Cultivation Street

Sandown Castle Community Garden

Since its launch in 2013, the Cultivation Street campaign has expanded to support hundreds of school and community gardening projects across the UK. It is now a thriving hub for gardeners to share stories, top tips and advice as well as access a plethora of free resources to enhance their gardening projects. For this week’s Sunday Blog Share, we take a look at a competition entry from 2018 based in Deal, Kent.

Sandown Castle Community Garden, entered by Linda Ford

In 2015, a group of 15 volunteers began stripping back 18 years’ worth of overgrowth to turn the tiered gardens on their local seafront into a sight to behold. In 2018 Sandown Castle Community Garden were shortlisted for two Cultivation Street awards, in both the Communities and Calliope® Colour My Life Categories.

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About the garden

After a huge clean-up operation, the community began planting bulbs and bedding plants in amongst the natural growing sea thrift. The garden now contains a mixture of around 150 types of perennials, a wild flower bed shaped like a butterfly, a Tudor rose bed, a grassy area for community events, a bench for relaxing in the gardens, a bird bath, a bug hotel, bird nesting boxes, and a planted boat feature. In February 2017, after fundraising some £4000, they managed to install an on-site water supply after two years of watering from cold loft tanks with a pump and generator.

The team of volunteers recycle everything by re-homing plants and composting in their numerous compost bins. They run the Deal Plant Recycle Facebook Group where people can gift unwanted plants to one other, rather than throw them away. The team use manure to fertilise the garden and hand pick slugs and snails off plants to protect their environment. The area has become a haven for butterflies, bees, hummingbird hawkmoths and birds, including turnstones.

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Since Sandown Castle gardens are in the ruins of an old Tudor castle, the volunteers decided to incorporate their Calliope® geraniums into a Tudor rose display to reflect the history of the area. Taking a bare patch of grass, the volunteers began by digging out a circular bed to make space for their rose display. The outer red petals of the Tudor rose were then created using a ring of vibrant red Calliope® geraniums, which were planted around a ring of white plants, followed by a circle of yellow plants in the centre.

Impact on the community

The volunteers are part of a social media group where they exchange ideas and celebrate their progress with their followers, giving the project a sense of momentum. They network with other community gardening groups in town and team up with them for litter picking events. Their efforts have vastly improved the looks of the seafront in Deal and have an impact on the many hundreds of locals and tourists who pass by there, including elderly and ill people who come to enjoy the gardens.

The volunteers also supply plants and nesting boxes to their local school and have improved the area for local wildlife. Local community groups, the general public and local garden centres have all pulled together and made donations of funds and plants to improve the gardens for everyone.

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Thoughts from Sandown Castle Community Garden in 2018…

“This is the first time we’ve designed a formal plant display and we have been delighted with the results and the many comments that we’ve had on our Tudor rose. We especially liked including presentations about the history of our site and garden to inspire other community groups. Spread the word and see what you can achieve in the area you live in when you all work together!”

…and now

“Since Cultivation Street’s competition we have been very busy here in Deal Kent. We decided we wanted to extend our community garden and set about clearing and planting the final piece in September. We had to bring in a lot of soil and one of our gardeners supplied us with some of his composted vegetation from the church yard’s compost heap which we dug in and levelled before planting a mix of perennials which were either donated to us, or grown by ourselves along with a variety of spring bulbs.  Our garden, including the grassed area and additional smaller areas, covers around 1/2 - 3/4 of an acre, so it’s quite large. On the photographs you can see our Tudor Rose design flower bed which we entered into Cultivation Streets competition in 2018.

In October Sandown School children, who have an amazing Green Zone and outdoor classroom, came to help us plant 2,500 crocus bulbs in the grass around the garden. We regularly network with the school and donate our surplus plants to them.

In addition to this we also planted 1,000 Tete a Tete miniature daffodils in the grass along the edge of the sea wall. We’re all looking forward to seeing them bloom in the spring!”

Julie, Lancelot & Marlene levelling
Miss Collins With Sandown School children planting crocus bulbs
Linda (me), Miss Collins and Sandown School children
Janet, Nick, Betty & Julie planting daffodils

If this story has inspired you to become part of the Cultivation Street campaign, register for free now to take your community gardening project to the next level.

You’ll receive an array of free resources, from seed packs, Calliope® plug plants and planting calendars to seasonal newsletters jam-packed with gardening advice, ideas and success stories to whet your gardening appetite. You’ll also be given a chance to win big in the annual Cultivation Street competition, which has a staggering £20,000 to giveaway to school and community gardening projects that are changing the lives of people across the UK.

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