The idea for The Wonky Garden came about through friends, meeting at a wellbeing event during cancer treatment, who dreamed of creating beautiful outdoor spaces to nurture nature, educate and have fun. The charity was invited to take on an overgrown site at a community centre in December 2017 and the project has quickly built up, through lots of hard work, to offer a very valuable resource to a range of school and community groups, with activities on offer 6 days a week.
The garden has several spaces and surrounds a community centre in a densely populated area. As it has been newly established, there are currently three key areas – a flower garden with central sensory area which creates a calming space, a brightly coloured, toddler-safe creche garden and a former allotment area which is planted up with perennials. Raised beds and planters with wheelchair-friendly paths between create an environment that’s accessible for everyone. There are plans for ongoing regeneration of other areas, to grow fruit, vegetables and cut flowers as well as a show garden area.
The Creche Garden and our Colour Your Life entry
The creche garden was overgrown, had no council funding or tools to maintain and the children were unable to play in it due to health and safety issues. So the main volunteers asked what the community would they like to see and do in the garden. They put a plan together with the creche team, core volunteers and centre managers to put to completely regenerate the space over the course of a year but with the key focus in the first six months (to Aug 2018) being to make the garden safe and provide a 'WOW' factor Wonky structure to delight the children and incorporate a colourful floral displays to enable them to engage with nature.
They community garden is located close to the Mersey River, so they decided to base their design around this theme. Including plants as part of the structure came with a challenge in that they wanted to ensure the planting comprised of really colourful, long lasting but sturdy plants that children could enjoy and would survive curious little fingers- this is where the Calliope Geraniums came into play.
You can see the transformation process below. (Left to right).
Impact on the community
The Wonky Garden is very much a community resource. Children of all ages, from pre-school to college students, use the garden in activities that have been carefully planned to enrich the curriculum. There is an ever-increasing number of regular volunteers and frequent referrals from wellbeing and mental health groups. The local horticultural society holds inter-generational gardening groups and there are other beneficial schemes, such as Duke of Edinburgh placements and Youth Justice who use the site.
"We have captured the hearts and mind of so many"
Angela Hayler one of the volunteers that runs the Wonky Garden had this to say - “We have created a community movement which has captured the hearts and minds of so many people across the community - our capabilities and sense of fun and engagement has led to many groups coming to us to ask if they could join in and they are enjoining themselves so much they want to continue.
We have got some exciting plans coming up to. We would love to develop our Wonky Florist / Floristry activities, introduce Horticulture for Therapy, Forest School and closely support the local special school with their Horticulture Course which they are introducing for the first time in September.”
SIGN UP NOW
Community gardens across the UK are not only growing rapidly in numbers but are also doing incredible work, transforming lives as well as the land itself. We would love you to join us now.