The Willow Incredible Garden
The Willow Garden is an exciting new project which will see an under-utilised area of grass, transform in to a community garden in the grounds of Forton Road Medical Centre, Gosport.
This is a really fantastic project which aims to reach groups that will benefit most from spending time outdoors and in the garden. Motiv8 and targeted patient groups will be the first to use the garden and help to develop it. We are looking for regular volunteers to help create and maintain the garden. Please see below for details of the WWW group. We also need materials and anyone able to help with heavy gardening duties. To express your interest in helping please contact us and we will be in touch soon.
In June 2022, the garden was officially launched, and the draft plan, drawn up by local surveyor and designer Brian Hindle, of BJH Property Services was available to view. After some feedback and suggestions, minor amendments were made to the plans. There are two elements to the garden. Click on the links below to view the plans:
The early development of the garden.
In October 2022, once the ground had softened, and with help from Brian to mark out the area, members of the steering group including Dr Robin Harlow, Janie, Emma and Steph, and kind volunteers Dean, Sean and Mark spent their Sunday digging out the path and growing area in the formal garden. The trees and shrubs by the bike sheds were also given a tidy up, and the brambles behind the pharmacy were reduced. All soil has been kept on site to line the bottom of the raised beds. We would like to thank Beaver Tool Hire for the free hire of their mini digger and rotavator.
At the end of October 2022, Emma, Steph and Janie visited the Healthy Haven Garden in Hythe. The garden is set in the grounds of Waterside Medical Centre in Hythe and so it shares some similarities to our Willow Incredible Garden. It was great to meet Chris who is the self-declared Head Gardener, and some of their fantastic volunteers.
The visit was to find out more about their project, which has similarities to ours, and to find out how they operate and involve the GP surgery, local support groups, the wider community and volunteers. It was a very inspiring visit and we picked up lots of ideas and enjoyed their warm welcome.
The Willow Welly and Wellbeing (WWW) group
In November 2022 we officially launched our Willow Welly and Wellbeing volunteer group (WWW). The group is open to anyone with a keen interest in gardening and who would like to help us to develop the garden, and then go on to help us to maintain it. If you would like to help, you can just turn up to a future session. Please wear clothing suitable for gardening and either wellies or stout shoes. We have a selection of hand tools and gloves available to use and there will always be a cuppa and biscuit. As we approach Spring, and thanks to funding from Abri Community Fund, our sessions are now weekly on a Thursday morning and monthly on the second Sunday of the month (except April which will be on the 16th). Please view the poster to the left for full details. We would love you to join us! If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to email Emma: firstname.lastname@example.org or click on the Contact Us link at the top of the page.
The garden in pictures
Since the first digger day in October 2022, changes are occurring frequently in the garden. In November, the volunteers began digging out the wildflower bed. We decided not to use chemicals and instead we took the turf off and piled it up grass side-down, and this would be used later to line our raised bed.
December saw four raised beds take shape, with thanks to Dean. The volunteers were able to complete almost two thirds of the wildflower area and so just before Christmas we seeded the area, hoping for a frost to give them a kick start.
January 2023 saw excitement when the first wildflowers appeared. It was also a busy month- Dean began the fencing to enclose the formal growing area, we planted fruit trees that had been donated to the project, the waterbutts were installed, and the raised beds were half-filled with the grassy compost and some bought organic fruit and veg compost. We were also lucky enough to have Neil visit from Thrive (social and therapeutic horticulture (STH) charity) to run some training for both clinical staff (social prescribers and health and wellbeing coaches) and community groups and volunteers about how STH can be used in gardens to improve health and wellbeing.
In February we completed the wildflower area- a labour of love for the dedicated volunteers. We also planted some daisies and daffodils around the edge of the wildflowers, which were kindly donated by Abbeycroft Nursery, Titchfield. We began the creation of the mulch path around the wildflower area too. A huge thanks to Skyfell Tree Specialists for the wood chips and also to Wickes in Fareham, which through the Community programme allowed us to receive a much needed tool store, fork and watering can. We were also joined by Motiv8 children for a half term session where we potted up herbs and planted seeds in pots, ready to go in to the raised beds in the coming month.
March has brought more bulb and flower planting (thanks to Abbeycroft Nursery and St Margarets Nursery, Titchfield). We also had some more sleepers delivered to create an additional 6 raised beds thanks to funding from Brighterway. A huge thank you to Sean from Parcar for his help building the raised beds and to Covers for a reduced price for the sleepers and giving us some offcuts for use in the garden. The bulbs are already coming up and the wildflowers are growing well. It’s going to look stunning in the next month or so.
Love Outdoors CIC involvement in the project was kindly funded by the Moneybarn fund through Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Fund (until February 2023) and is currently funded by Abri Community Fund (March 2023 onwards). We would also like to thank the following organisations for donating items for the garden: Wickes, Skyfell Tree Specialists.