Gardening Group

What is the Gardening Group? – a personal reflection by resident John Price

On Saturdays over the past few months you may have noticed people toiling away in the gardens between the Mansion blocks on Makepeace and Oakeshott avenues.

Who are they and why are they there? Well, they all answered an appeal for volunteers to work under the supervision of Kat Wojnar, who does a marvellous job as our full-time gardener on the estate. The idea is for residents to take on projects to help care and maintain the communal gardens and develop them as amenities for all.

The first project was the pond in the central garden. Feeling the water seep through your boots as you wrestle with great, sodden tussocks is a good way to build esprit de corps and to get to know your neighbours. We’ve had the pleasure of watching frogspawn grow into tadpoles and can now see frogs among the plants which are flourishing in the clearer water.

in pond pond


We have weeded beds in the garden and on the terraced slope up to the rose garden, taken up some of the weeds and moss on the crazy paving and the steps, put out bags of bark as we have gone along and weeded the rose bed – a prickly business.

One of the pleasures of the group has been exploring Holly Lodge’s secret places. We have removed brambles from a neglected patio beside the nursery and there is talk of chickens being kept there for the children. Work has been done in the polytunnel between Holly Lodge Mansions and the West Cemetery and, further along, a couple of beds of potatoes have been created and are thriving. In late May, volunteers weeded and tidied for a couple of hours on the Community Centre patio. The flat, lawned areas behind – once tennis courts – provide further opportunities.


We are determined not to use chemicals and to encourage wildlife in quieter areas. Help could also come from Ricky and Rod’s Youth Support Service team run by Camden (see below). They have been working around the Community Centre and could branch out to make bug hotels, bird and bat boxes around the estate. They could varnish and repair benches and clear overgrown areas. Whatever we do has to be done in a way residents are comfortable with. So we talk to other users and various interested parties, such as Camden Council and the Holly Lodge Estate Committee, to make sure we are not treading on anyone’s toes.

bed weeds

None of these things by themselves are major projects but all of them help to make sure Holly Lodge remains an attractive, friendly place to live – that almost secret world within a world that residents find so special.


For more information or to get involved, email the HLRA at our usual email –