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.
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.
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.
If you fancy lending a hand, pop along to the pond at 11.30am on Saturdays.
Ricky and Rod’s Gardening Project
The Holly Lodge Residents Association and Camden’s Integrated Youth Support Services have partnered up on a new project, to help maintain the communal gardens at Holly Lodge estate. Working with Ricky (from Wood that Works) and Rod,a Camden Council employee, young people can complete useful tasks in the communal garden areas of the estate – from working on plant boxes, to vegetable beds, to varnishing benches and so on.
On weekends, these young people are already supporting Holly Lodge Community Centre for a few hours every week. Working on their greenhouse, plant boxes and other things they have helped keep the space well maintained, while learning valuable practical skills about gardening. This has been a great opportunity for them to pick up a new skill or new hobby while supporting the community.
We are now able to extend this support to more areas of the estate if residents would find this useful. Provided there is agreement from everyone who uses these spaces, Ricky and Rod can have the young people take part in specific tasks around the communal gardens as required.
If there are any questions about this or you would like to know more, please contact Arthur (Arthur.Waters@camden.gov.uk), who can provide more information.