Wildflowers Unite A Community (Part One)

Receiving news last week that the Katherine Buchan Meadow in London has been awarded a Green Flag Community Award, we thought it was high time we featured the story of how this delightful meadow came about.

The Katherine Buchan Meadow in Ealing, London, is testament to what can be achieved when a local community comes together with a shared desire to enhance their local environment.

Once a bustling and busy, yet very neglected space within the Old Hanwell conservation area, the green has been transformed into a beautiful wildflower meadow which has become a local hub for those who live and work nearby.

A place for all – Picture supplied by Paul James

With a location close to Ealing’s St Mark’s primary school and boasting a historical Victorian church building as a backdrop, the meadow has sympathetically transformed the space into which it has been installed.

Previously the area was treated solely as a thoroughfare; dog walkers, locals on their way to or from work, children and the families rushing to and from school, and local residents on their way to the nearby canal or local allotment all rushed through the green. Sadly, there was little on offer to encourage anyone to dwell.  

The green before – Picture supplied by Paul James

Exhibiting a forgotten air the green was also often the home of anti-social behaviour, with discarded rubbish and vandalism commonplace.

Discarded rubbish – picture supplied by Paul James

However, all of that changed in 2014 when a project to regenerate the green was launched and championed by long-term local resident, Amanda Rutkowski.

Amanda saw the potential to open-up and transform the green into a beautiful, light, airy space that would enhance the experience of all who passed through whilst also introducing and encouraging a diversity of wildlife to the area.

Bee on Ragged Robin – Picture supplied by Paul James

Additionally, Amanda saw an opportunity to create a truly communal space connecting the local community and St Marks Primary school through research, development and stewardship of the green.

Amanda’s garden design and horticultural background played a large part in shaping her vision for the green and she took her initial thoughts to a local neighbour for his input. Little did he know it at the time, but award-winning designer and landscaper Sim Flemons was soon to join Amanda as co-founder of the project.

Amanda and Sim pooled their ideas and expertise and developed a brief for the project which they circulated amongst the local community. Feedback for the rejuvenation plans was extremely positive, however a lack of funding was the key constraint for moving the project from conceptual stage to reality.

Encouraging community involvement – picture supplied by Paul James

In 2015, the opportunity for funding assistance arose via Ealing Council’s “Transform Your Space” programme, an initiative championed by cabinet member Bassam Mahfouz. As part of the criteria for funding consideration the project team was invited to mount a campaign and obtain public support for the project via SpaceHive https://www.spacehive.com/creating-katherine-buchan-meadow-tys2

The next step in the process was for Amanda and Sim to transform their vison into a workable design, and a formalised framework was drawn-up which allowed the project to be costed-out and material options considered. A social media campaign was also launched to assist with garnering public interest and support and to encourage donations to the crowdfunding appeal.

In early 2016, Amanda and Sim were invited to formally present the project to Ealing Council. After meeting the Council’s challenge to raise £1000.00 in crowdfunding, the project was awarded £46,300, and in March 2016 the Katherine Buchan Meadow Trust was officially formed.

So, what now for our intrepid team? What do Alms Houses have to do with wildflowers? All will be revealed in Part Two of our blog, stay tuned!

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