This year Kirkstall in Bloom are celebrating five years of being a community garden, writes JAMES CORAH.
In those five years there’s been a lot of change at our sites. Each season, every month, brings a new development.
New stems and buds forming, the seeds germinated before spring became part of the Drink and Be Grateful Fountain Garden this Summer.
Summers for KiB are book-ended by Yorkshire in Bloom. Entering their competition in a non-competitive category (details below) adds a structure to our planning for the whole year, separate to the routine of seasons and funding grants.
First things first, if you’re in a community gardening group, definitely sign up to Yorkshire in Bloom.
If you’ve got a question contact them on twitter or facebook, or Richard Gill at Leeds City Council. The benefits of doing so are immense, and Yorkshire in Bloom and the larger Britain in Bloom are so supportive for every level of groups.
The run-up to Summer at the Drink and Be Grateful Fountain Garden started in February, with myself and Sam Meadley clearing the remainder of the ivy from the Library end of the Garden. Seagulls Mosaics also started their preparations for the two blocked windows there.
The Library Garden is a good example of how our volunteers come together. Each of us had a hand in planning and implementing for the Summer. We had soil delivered, new plants, moved rocks to form a rock garden, and installed a community compost bin and water butt.
During this time we also took over a brand new bed outside Kirkstall Leisure Centre, and began discussions with Kirkstall Bridge Shopping Centre about a future project. I also ended up taking part on BBC Radio Leeds Sunday Gardening with Tim Crowther and Graham Porter discussing what KiB had been up to, alongside Sue Wood from Yorkshire in Bloom.
Yorkshire in Bloom judging takes place in July, and with a little bit of a push we were ready for it. The two judges we had were so helpful (I now know how to take lavender cuttings). Also in July the Kirkstall Festival and Kirkstall Art Trail, which our volunteers were heavily involved with.
For the Festival KiB ran a finders keepers competition, with cards left through out the day for visitors to win flowers and seeds. At the Art Trail we ran a session for visitors to paint rocks that will feature in our gardens (once we’ve finally managed to cover them in varnish).
This was a lot of fun for us, and proof yet again of the massive rewards that come from community activism.
So, what happens next…
On Tuesday 13 September Hannah the chair and I attended the Yorkshire in Bloom Awards Ceremony. We sat with the incredibly inspiring and amazing volunteers from Kippax in Bloom (29 years growing in strength and tackling adversities), and heard about groups and gardens from across Yorkshire (hey, Horsforth in Bloom, well done, Holbeck in Bloom, 20 years, really, you’re looking blooming great).
Kirkstall in Bloom’s category is RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood. As mentioned before, it is non-competitive and groups are placed in one of five levels. Last year KiB was Level 3 – Advancing, this year we achieved Level 4 – Thriving.
This fantastic development is down to the hard work of our volunteers who give their time freely to improve Kirkstall and make it blooming marvellous for the community. It is down to the support KiB receives from members of the public, our Ward councillors, and the help of LCC staff such as Richard Gill.
The judges noted the that Kirkstall in Bloom not only had “they maintained and improved the areas but also looked into the history and heritage of the sites which they explained well.”
The judges’ comments concluded that KiB should “continue to develop as a group, don’t take on too much work that other areas deteriorate but what has been achieved so far is excellent.”
We’ll be showing off our Level 4 certificate during our September session, and will finish that day with cake and celebration for our fifth year.
Continuing the celebrations, in October we will hold our normal session as well as a bulb planting session a week later. Spring 2018 will be a sight to behold.
For the final time though, Kirkstall in Bloom thanks its volunteers. You all make it all worthwhile.
Note: I assume everyone knows the normal Yorkshire/Britain in Bloom awards of Gold, Silver, et cetera, however the It’s Your Neighbourhood category is slightly different.
Firstly, the entrants in the category were judged on their own, their only competitor being themselves (so no ‘best in category’). Secondly, there are five Levels, Level 1 being ‘Establishing’, 2 ‘Improving’, 3 ‘Advancing’, 4 ‘Thriving’, and 5 ‘Outstanding’.
All entrants for all awards receive details and helpful feedback on their strengths and areas for improvement.