Social flowering in Chelsea – transforming urban green spaces
There’s a garden with a difference at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, which started on Monday 21 May. A community garden created by the Clapton Park Estate, Hackney will show how to transform our urban landscapes whilst attracting a wealth of wildlife and encouraging the social and physical wellbeing of the residents.
The garden, a typical cross-section of one of the estate’s transformed green spaces, is being sponsored by Clapton Park Estate’s Tenant Management Organisation, Natural England, Green Estates, Pictorial Meadows (seed providers) and Neighbourhoods Green.
By sowing annual flower seed, the muddy edges of the estate have been transformed into wildflower meadows. These formerly neglected grass corners require no watering or herbicide, which has resulted in improved biodiversity and less vandalism - all for less cost.
The Clapton Park Estate’s venture started five years ago when the Tenant Management Organisation decided they wanted to add excitement and colour to the estate’s 120 green spaces. They approached The Grass Roof Company to help them achieve this.
John Little of The Grass Roof Company said: ”Put poppies in front of a dull fence and suddenly the space makes you smile…all for 50p worth of seed.”
The results of this project have made a huge impact to the residents of the 1,200 properties on the estate, whose view of the green spaces around them has changed as a result of the project. Pride in the results has encouraged them to come to Chelsea and demonstrate to others what can be achieved in a city housing estate.
Natural England, the Government’s wildlife agency, has been working in partnership with Neighbourhoods Green in their quest to improve the open spaces owned and managed by social landlords, by analysing problems and identifying possible solutions. The Clapton Park Estate is seen as a prime example of what can be achieved by communities working together on housing estates.
Alison Barnes, Regional Director for Natural England’s London Region said: “We are extremely excited by the work that has been done by the community at the Clapton Park Estate and the example it sets for the many similar estates across London and beyond.
“Not only are these enhancements better for wildlife but they have major health and social benefits. Daily contact with nature brings the obvious physical benefits of encouraging people to be outdoors more often; and spaces enlivened by colourful plants, birdsong and the buzzing of bees lift the spirit and are good for the soul.”
As Derek, Clapton Park resident said: “I love it. It makes me feel good, it makes me feel free, in touch with nature, in touch with my childhood.”