Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Blooming marvellous!

I have spent a glorious spring and early summer as an "In Bloom" volunteer for a project aiming to improve the town and in particular with plants. Rather than sitting for seven hours a day on a computer I have been outside in the open air learning about the care of roses, edging techniques, planting up enormous town centre pots - the list is endless. I feel much healthier for it too.
planting out in central reservation
My other local environment volunteering is focused on litter picking and prevention and as I have blogged before although it has its moments it can be pretty disheartening and people, for all sorts of reasons, do not often engage with you. Here a morning in the park tending the roses means contact with all kinds of people from newcomers to the town who don't have many connections yet to parents and grandparents with children in tow. If I ever had any doubts about the value of this kind of initiative I will remember a remark from an older man who strolled past us as we tended some planters with the remark "It makes you feel glad to be alive". In fact most people, even in these times of strictures can see how uplifting plants can be. I say most people - one man used  a stage whisper to utter "More bloody flowers" the other day and I don't know how we managed to keep calm! Still he was a very small, miserable voice.
planter by canal

Of course it is not just the plants. Once you start looking in more detail at the spaces around you there are all kinds of small things that you can do from clearing all those pesky weeds to repainting posts and staining benches - all part of the In Bloom work. And then of course litter picking dovetails in here too [changes hat].

But I love the variety. One day you could be planting in the river - we have had some new berms put in recently, and the next you could be painting posts.
river planting
repainted posts

The In Bloom volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds. They include people working full time who take annual leave to get involved, to retired people with no knowledge of gardening [most people profess to having no knowledge of gardening!] or people who have not got enough garden of their own and more time now, to people with special needs who find a role they can cope with. Then there are the groups of children. This year six year olds planted all our sunflowers and made posters. School children planted fruit trees and tended vegetable gardens. It takes a lot of coordinating and I am glad not to be in that role but the team work is amazing! Not for me boring office meetings about some nonsensical topic, but tea breaks discussing pruning techniques and if we need waders in the river! Love it!


  1. How wonderful, even if people moan it still brightens their day. Well done to you and all the volunteers.

    1. Thanks Sally. Some of the volunteers have dedicated years of their lives to this too! I am just a newbie!