Among their many benefits, the aesthetics of wildflowers and the associated joy that they bring cannot be overstated. We were reminded of this recently during a conversation with Ewan Stutt, founder of the charity, Parkinsons.Me.
Joined by a group of committed volunteers, Ewan is the driving force behind the Parkinson’s.Me Community Garden.
Located in West Lockinge, Oxfordshire, this community garden project has been two years in the making and was officially opened on Saturday, 15th September 2018. Originally beginning life as a small area at the rear of an allotment, the garden now covers two-thirds of an acre and sits on land owned by the Lockinge Estate.
Ewan himself was just 41 when, in 2013, he was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s. Ewan subsequently founded Parkinsons.Me, a charity established to offering positive support and advice to families affected by Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s, which mainly affects people over 50, is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years. Among the three main symptoms are involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body, slow movement and stiff, inflexible muscles.
Ewan focusses on keeping on top of his condition with a clear focus on nutrition and exercise and, inspired by his own personal experience, conceived the notion of a dedicated space that could be enjoyed by others with the condition and their families, as well as the wider community.
Central to the conception of the garden space, and of key importance, was a focus on three central pillars: community and interaction, exercise, and healthy eating and nutrition.
The garden design and planning process covered a period of 18 months and, following council approval in December 2017, the real work began. With numerous paths and different garden areas running the length and breadth of the space, there was plenty to do!
Volunteers cleared over 10 tonnes of green waste from the site, filling several skips in the process. Planting began in earnest in April 2018, with a number of suppliers donating to the project in order to bring the garden to life.
Key to the design itself was the necessity to ensure that the designated area blended with its surrounds while ensuring that the garden also maintained its therapeutic value. The space is adjacent to a bridle path and community woodland, and so naturalistic options were sought. During his many hours of garden research, Ewan stumbled upon the Wildflower Turf Instagram account, and the rest is history!
Wildflower Turf donated 80m² of Wildflower Turf Landscape Earth to the project, with installation occurring in May 2018. Despite a long, hot summer the resulting array of wildflowers has been exceptional, a testament to the drought-tolerant nature of the medium used.
The wildflowers have provided much colour, interest and visual stimulation over the summer months and their dynamic nature has been much commented upon. We are delighted to have helped bring this important community garden project to fruition and look forward to sharing further updates as the garden develops and alters over the next few seasons.