Scouting around the garden

Being an account of the progress so far and future plans for developing the garden areas within the church grounds.

It is funny how ideas grow, isn’t it? The seeds of this idea germinated following a meeting of the premises committee back in 2011. The church’s insurers had asked that the perimeter of the church grounds be made more secure to reduce theft and vandalism and our local Crime Prevention Officer suggested that a hedge be planted along the inside of the western perimeter wall (Liverpool Road side).

At the same time, I received an email from a project called ‘Trees for All’. They were offering to send, free of charge, a selection of hedging plants to our Scout Group in an attempt to get one million trees planted across the UK during 2011. Coincidence or Divine intervention, I wonder? A phone call soon secured us 120 hedge plants comprising Hawthorn, Buckthorn, Hazel, Holly, Privet and Dog Rose. More than enough for our needs so, on a crisp but overcast autumnal Saturday, the new hedge was planted.

During the course of that day, several people (including, significantly, Ruth and Fr. Neil) stopped to chat and, inevitably, other areas of the church grounds that needed attention were discussed, notably the derelict area between the church and the hall. Before I knew what I was doing, I’d volunteered to get the Scouts onto clearing the site!  ‘You don’t get ‘owt for nowt’ as the saying goes, and whilst there may be a lot of work involved, the benefits of having a secure out-door space to practice our Scouting skills was very appealing. And, of course, the space would also be for the benefit of other church and hall users too.

I approached the PCC to seek approval for clearing the site and, when cleared, to landscape it once all those who are interested in its form have had some input. This
was approved and, in the spring of 2012, we set to work. During the course of four Scout working parties, we cut back weeds, bushes and trees, dismantled the remnants of some old brick walls and started clearing back the soil to reveal the remains of an old, hidden tarmac path. As well as working hard, sausages were cooked over open fires and ideas for using the cleared space were discussed. I’m not sure how feasible it is to fit a zip-wire or climbing wall into the space, as the Scouts suggested, we may have to rethink those ideas.

The derelict area between the church and the Hall - before and after

You may recall the very successful Spring Fair that St Faith’s held in 2012? Well, as part of that operation, the Cub Scouts used the cleared area to set up a ‘smash the crockery’ stall.  We also had a stall selling flower seedlings and plants that I had propagated on my allotment. I had a massive surplus of plants that year, (due to over-enthusiastic sowing of seed in March and an excellent germination rate) so those plants that were left over after the Spring Fair were planted by the Cubs in the soil along the western perimeter wall, next to the new hedging. The result was a lovely display of annuals during the following summer months.

Planting up the borders with annuals provided an ideal opportunity for the Cubs to do some Community Badgework, but there were problems. The border was a wide space with an undefined edge (quite a lot to fill with plants) and cars were often driven over the soil when being parked. The solution was to re-establish the front edge of the border by pushing it back 2ft and erecting a low, picket-style fence fronted by some cable edging that we found buried under the soil.

Most of the fence was in place by May of this year and over the spring term Cub Scouts and Young Leaders planted up the border with a variety of home-grown annuals and bedding – over 200 plants were put in! The resultant display has lasted all summer, exceeding all expectations and has been warmly received by all who have seen it.

And so that brings us up to date. Good progress so far, with still a lot to do. A working party is planned for late October to continue the clearing of the space behind church. Once cleared, we can get on with landscaping it to create a garden and seating area for the use of all church and hall users. Plans are also in place to continue developing the borders by gradually replacing annuals with a variety of perennials which are currently being grown from seed on my allotment.

My thanks goes out to all who have supported our Scouts in their work so far, in particular thanks to Ruth, Maureen, Mike Broom and the PCC. Also, thank you to those who have shown their appreciation for the flower displays this year, we have received such lovely praise for our efforts and it’s much appreciated.

Mike Carr
On behalf of St Faith’s Scout Group.

 Mmm... sausages!