With this year’s International Day of Peace falling on September 21, we were thrilled to attend the opening of a very special local garden in the Basingstoke War Memorial Park.
The overriding aim of the Peace Garden Project is to create a lasting celebration of peace and reconciliation which will provide a relaxing space in memory of all who suffered in past conflicts and which reflects hopes for lasting peace in the future.
The garden features a circular paved space with a central metal sphere, and pebble seating and benches surrounded by trees and wildflowers. Ten peace plaques designed by local schoolchildren have also been set into the ground.
The garden project was conceived in 2014 during the time of the commemoration of the centenary of the start of WW1, with project volunteers working closely with Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council to design the space.
Funding was raised via the Council’s Local Infrastructure Fund, as well as a number of donations received from local organisations and businesses. Likewise, time, skills and materials were also donated to help the project to fruition.
The spring months of April and May 2018 saw the planting of a grove of birch trees, numerous shrubs at the rear of the garden, bulbs and, of course, wildflowers supplied by Wildflower Turf Ltd!
The project team originally purchased 50m² of Wildflower Turf Landscape Turf and 450m² Wildflower Earth Landscape, with the initial installation proving so successful that they subsequently ordered an additional 80m² of Wildflower Earth Landscape Turf to enhance the project further.
Despite a long and dry summer, the wildflowers were still looking very colourful at the opening thanks to watering attention provided by the Council’s Operations Team.
Of particular interest to many attending the opening was a commemorative memorial to pioneering surgeon, Sir Harold Gillies. A New Zealander, Sir Harold Gillies was present in Basingstoke during and after the Second World War and was instrumental in developing plastic surgery techniques for those wounded in battle, improving both physical and psychological rehabilitation.
The sculpted bust of Sir Harold Gillies was commissioned by the Rooksdown Club and produced by talented artist and sculptor, Julia Beer. In attendance to see the unveiling of the sculpture was Tom Gillies, a great-grandson of Sir Harold, as well as other members of the Gillies family who travelled from New Zealand to attend the garden opening.
For more details on this tranquil space visit: https://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/peacegarden