Welsh House Farm Green Grafters | Community Gardens

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Since we got involved with Cultivation Street, our eyes have been opened to a wealth of gardening projects going on in our local communities. Our Gardening Blogger Annie caught up with The Welsh House Farm Green Grafters to find out all about the AMAZING work they undertake, to make their community a brighter place to live! They are bunch of volunteers who dedicate their free time to creating beautiful spaces in their local community. We have been totally blown away by their dedication and the enthusiasm for the work that they do ... and hope that when you read about their projects you will be as inspired as we are!

 

How were you formed?

The group started as the Environment Action Group in April 2016 with the shared vision of improving the overall look of green spaces in the Welsh House Farm Estate in Birmingham. Starting with cleaning activities such as pruning, leaf collecting, and litter picking, the group then expanded to more ambitious projects. The WHF Green Grafters developed out of this as more gardening focused projects got underway, and is currently a sub-group of the Welsh House Farm Big Local Partnership.

 

What are your day jobs?

The group is quite mixed in this respect, there are those who are now retired, and those in part time or full time work. We are lucky to have a good link in that Michael, the local Community Development worker, is one of our volunteers, and Cath who is the secretary of the group is also undertaking horticultural training and is starting up as a self-employed gardener/garden designer.

 

How often do you meet?

We try to have a weekly session for a couple of hours at least at our communal allotment plot, and will then arrange other meet ups at our other planting spaces or will drop down in an ad-hoc manner for a bit of weeding and watering. Usually during school holidays we will also make sure we have additional sessions or activities too.

 

 

Where do you meet?

We have a good relationship with the Haven Community Centre so are able to also use their space to meet to plan and discuss our ideas, and sometimes will use their garden for activities too.

 

 

What are your groups greatest achievements?

We were very proud to win the Best Community Garden in the Edgbaston District in the 2017 Birmingham in Bloom competition. Other than that, just looking at the difference to date in the areas we have worked on, and hearing the good feedback from the local residents is wonderful!

 

 

What are the aims of your group?

To build our membership and encourage more regular involvement from the local community, in order to continue to maintain and develop the spaces we are currently working on, and to also allow us the option to look at new opportunities.

 

 

Who do you reach out to?

It is a mixture really - quite often it is family groups during our summer activities, but at other times the age ranges are quite varied

 

 

How do you buy plants?

We are lucky to be linked to the Welsh House Farm Big Local Partnership and so can get some funding through that for plants and tools etc, but we also are donated plants on occasion or will grow on things ourselves from seed or cuttings. We also look at cheaper options such as buying bulbs in bulk to plant, use wildflower mixes, or buy plug plants to grow on ourselves.

 

Cath - Green Grafter Member

The Grafters is a collection of great characters with amazing stories and brilliant ideas we loved meeting them all and finding out how each one of them works to make a difference. We were so excited to discover that one of their members created a stunning garden for this years Gardeners World Live. Cath is one of the driving forces behind The Grafters and a real horticultural enthusiast! We found out a little more about Cath, her garden and her path to Gardeners World Live.

Do you grow at home? If so, what do you grow?

Yes! Although I only have a small garden I am doing my best to develop into a jungle! I actually grow a real mixture of plants, I enjoy experimenting and it’s the best way to learn. So I have a small area of patio fruit bushes in large pots, and am trying kiwi and a grapevine against one fence. I do various veg in containers and planters, such as courgettes, squash, broad beans, peas, and potatoes, and have a plastic greenhouse which allows me to do well with tomatoes, and okay with aubergines and peppers. I also have my ‘pretty corner’ at the back which sits in the shadiest part and is more decorative with ferns, Heucheras and some other flowering plants to just look nice! There is a similar theme with my front garden which is mostly driveway and so again there are lots of pots and planters which I use for various small shrubs, herbaceous perennials and annuals. I am planning to extend my rockery area a bit soon and change a narrow border that is currently wildflowers to a succulent/alpine area.

 

When did your passion for gardening start?

I have always enjoyed doing a bit of gardening thanks to growing up with it in the family, but it really took off around 3 years ago when we got our first garden that was completely ours to choose what to do with! I also had a period of ill health and was off work a lot and gardening was one thing I could continue to do in small doses and it really kept me going. I think this was what really lit the flame and I signed up to undertake RHS level 2 courses and got involved with volunteering with the Green Grafters around the same time 18 months ago.

What is your favourite plant?

Just one!? I am a sucker for interesting foliage colours and so Heuchera’s are definitely up there; Bougainvillea is another one I am really drawn to, and I now have two small ones in the conservatory; a plant I am particularly pleased to have kept going is my Digitalis canariensis (Canary Island foxglove) and on a less exotic note this is the first year I have planted some of the regular Digitalis purpurea in the garden which I am loving because it reminds me of my mum’s wonderful garden! But one favourite is impossible!

Do you have any formal training?

Yes, I am working towards my RHS Level 2 qualifications, and am just about to finish the practical course at Winterbourne here in Birmingham, where I also hope to go on to the Level 3 next year.

I have also done some introductory courses with Thrive around Social & Therapeutic Horticulture.

What is your favourite planting tip?

A basic one, but you realise how helpful it is when you forget or get a plant where it hasn’t been done, and that is to leave a space between the compost and the top of the pot for watering.

 

What is the biggest benefit that gardening brings to your life?

It resulted in me being able to make a negative situation and turn it into a positive opportunity to explore something new – and the enjoyment it continues to bring me is in large part because it is a constant exploration!

 

 

How did you get to appear at Gardener's World Live?

I saw that they were taking applications for the ‘Beautiful Borders’ part of the show and, as I had been working on some basic garden designs for other purposes, I thought I would have a play around and see what I could come up with. I was persuaded to send it in and was really excited to get an email to say I had been accepted to present it at the show in June!

 

What was your concept for your display?

My border was called ‘Our Space in Space’ and it was a representation of the classic image of Earth taken by Voyager 1 on 14th February 1990 from more than 4 billion miles away. Known as the Pale Blue Dot, the photograph was used in Carl Sagan’s book of the same name to beautifully and humbly give perspective to all human life and our planet’s place within the universe. To me this is the ultimate illustration that our own cherished small spaces are connected to the wider universe, and the perspective that brings; with everything on Earth, and all natural and human history, encompassed in that one tiny dot.

 

Were you happy with how it went?

Absolutely, I couldn’t have been happier with the end result, it looked even better than I visualised when I was initially drawing it out!

 

What would you change if you did it again? (if anything)

I wouldn’t change anything about the overall concept or design, but if I was able to give myself more time and space for the planning and organising beforehand I would – and borrow a car earlier in the process for all the trips to nurseries etc!

 

What were you awarded?

Silver-merit

 

What was the best thing about appearing at Gardeners World?

It was a real confidence boost for my abilities, and I have learnt so much from being part of it, meeting other designers and exhibitors, and seeing the show gardens being put together. I also enjoyed it immensely!

 

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