Wildflowers Unite A Community (Part Two)

The second installment of our tale of a community that has come together to transform their communal space. And won a Green Flag Community Award to boot!

The Katherine Buchan Meadow in Ealing, London had received enough funding to ensure that the key elements of their rejuvenation project were able to be completed. So where next for the project team?

With funding from Ealing Council’s “Transform Your Space” programme now confirmed, further community consultation was undertaken by the project team of Amanda and Sim, and landscaping preparation was able to be finalised.

Work begins – Picture supplied by Amanda Rutkowski

Central to the green was a large mound. Delving into the annals of local history revealed that the mound itself dated from the 1970’s, but the resulting rubble contained within was dated much earlier. In 1876, four Alms Houses for single women of the parish were built by one Katherine Buchan, in honour of her father, also a local charitable figure.

When these Alms Houses were demolished in 1976, the resulting rubble was disposed of nearby, with the surrounding area turned into a green space. (Fittingly, the new meadow is named after, and celebrates, the life and community spirit of Katherine Buchan.)

The final plan for the rejuvenated space included; re-routing and relaying the main path around the mound, create a stag beetle habitat, the installation of a tree seat, removal of tired shrubs, the creation of a substantial and welcoming curved seating area and, central to the project, the laying of a wildflower meadow.

Curved seating area supplied by Streetlife

As well as providing much needed funding, Ealing Council were also instrumental in assisting the steering group with support and advice, with the Council working in partnership to see the project realised.

And every step of the way the local community was invited to become involved with leaflets distributed, social media utilised and local consultation meetings held regularly.

After a busy 12 months of planning and community consultation, the 12th of February 2017 heralded in “Breaking Ground Day”.  With the help of over 30 members of the local community (and children and four-legged friends) much of the area was stripped of unwanted and neglected material.

Following on from this initial day of clearing, further working parties made up of local community members were organised for volunteer days during February and March of 2017.

As well as the incredible progress made during the community working party days, Sim and his team of two completed the hard and soft landscaping of the site, which included the installation of a 14-metre feature bench (supplied by Streetlife (https://www.streetlife.nl/en) in Holland) and a wildflower meadow supplied by Wildflower Turf Ltd.

Wildflower Turf ready to be laid.

Working with the project’s collaborative partner, Ealing Council, Wildflower Turf Ltd provided 289m² of Border Turf and 200m² of Wildflower Earth Flora Britannica, with installation occurring in March 2017. The Wildflower Turf Ltd Team also provided technical support to the project and landscaping teams to ensure that installation of the Wildflower Turf and Wildflower Earth was swift and straightforward.

Wildflower Earth bags.

With a very dry end to the 2017 winter, locals committed to a roster for watering-in the newly laid Wildflower Turf and Wildflower Earth and within a short space of time the wildflower meadow was blooming.

Meadow in bloom – picture supplied by Amanda Rutkowski

The dedication shown by local members of the community and Sim and his landscaping team made it possible for the site to be quickly completed and the Katherine Buchan Meadow was officially declared open on the 9th April 2017.

Local businesses donated food and drink, the local ukulele group provided musical accompaniment, and the community came out in force to support and embrace the uplifting changes that had been made to their shared space.

Official opening of Katherine Buchan Meadow

Today, the Katherine Buchan Meadow is maintained by a local band of volunteers, with working parties attending to the maintenance of the area every 8-12 weeks. With the space now opened-up vandalism has been non-existent, and the green is now a calm and communal space with locals taking time to sit awhile and enjoy the beautiful landscaping. Thanks to Amanda and Sim’s vision and dedication, the project has transformed a once-neglected space into a glorious wildflower meadow which takes pride of place in the heart of this local community.

Wildflowers in bloom – pictures supplied by Paul James

Further testament to the impact of the Katherine Buchan Meadow is the recent achievement of a Green Flag Community Award (http://www.greenflagaward.org.uk/which was bestowed in July 2018, and saw the project painstakingly assessed against a set of 24 different criteria. Likewise, the team are also awaiting news as to their entry into the RHS Gardening ‘Britain in Bloom’ competition.

Huge congratulations must go to Amanda, Sim and the dedicated community who have worked so tirelessly to bring about such a fundamental change. It’s been an honour to be involved in this project and we look forward to sharing further updates as the Katherine Buchan Meadow continues to mature and evolve.

 

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