Civic style community garden

Discussion in 'Gardening Discussions' started by Huw Wyn Jones, Sep 22, 2021.

  1. Huw Wyn Jones

    Huw Wyn Jones Apprentice Gardener

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    Hello everyone,

    I'm a councillor in North Wales hoping to 'revive' a local garden/park. I've got together a bunch of volunteers who'll do the planting and maintenance, and we're confident we can finance the project via donations. This was a 'formal' garden and ideally we'd like it to look like an old 'civic' garden back in the day!

    Our first project will be the four flower beds in the middle of a large grassed area, and I came here to ask for your collective advice on what to plant there?

    Soil is fertile and reasonably well drained. Garden is 100m from the sea so frost not a huge problem. We get A LOT of rain, and it can be windy.

    Ideal plant(s) would be:
    • perennial
    • low maintenance (prune once or twice a year)
    • long flowering (or otherwise colourful)
    • not too big

    Thank you in advance for anyone who takes the time to respond. Diolch yn fawr. Huw
     
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    • JWK

      JWK Gardener Staff Member

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      Welcome to the forum Huw. I am not sure what a civic garden was, all I can think of are the borders in council parks that are/were planted with very colourful bedding.
       
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      • CarolineL

        CarolineL Total Gardener

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        Hi Huw and welcome! As JWK says, the old civic gardens tended to have very labour intensive bedding schemes, that were bare in the winter. If you want a more year round scheme, then a mixture of bulbs, a few evergreens (with different coloured foliage) and some summer herbaceous plants would give you a better basis. I would NOT recommend bedding as you either need to buy in plants at a reasonable size every year, or have somewhere where the volunteers can bring them on from smaller (cheaper) plug plants. And it depends on the enthusiasm and expertise available... I am a volunteer with a group intent on improving an amenity woodland. We are concentrating on easy natives (cowslips, foxgloves, bluebells etc) to reduce the work.

        How big are the beds? And do they face in all directions? Is there shade or fully open. Is the soil acid or alkali?
         
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        • Sheal

          Sheal Total Gardener

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          Welcome to GC Huw. :) It would help us a great deal if you could provide pictures of the area you are working on.
           
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          • Huw Wyn Jones

            Huw Wyn Jones Apprentice Gardener

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            PXL_20210923_113939548.jpgPXL_20210923_113947298.jpgPXL_20210923_113926054.jpg Sorry about the delay in replying to you all - photos are clearly an excellent idea.

            As you can see it needs a lot of work to reinstate the beds - but we have a good number of volunteers so I think it's very do-able. It would be a terrible shame not to try at the very least.

            My initial idea was to plant in layers. English lavender as the outside 'layer', something else inside of them, and maybe some medium size hydrangeas in the middle of each bed as a 'feature'. Ideally everything will just need a good hard prune at the end of the season and come back the following year.

            My concern now is that lavender can look quite untidy after a couple of years, and it's generally better for me to ask for advice rather than plough on in the wrong direction :-)
             
          • CarolineL

            CarolineL Total Gardener

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            Hi @Huw Wyn Jones -ah, so definitely perennials then - sensible considering it's quite an area! Lavenders can last for quite a few years if you're very strict with them and trim them every year. That way, you don't let them make that scrawny dead wood where they look so ugly. They still don't live for a very long time, but if volunteers were willing to grow on cuttings, they'd be sustainable.
            Hydrangeas are obviously pretty easy, though I think it is recommended to prune them in spring.
            As for a layer in between, then maybe something shrubby - dwarfish berberis? (Bright yellow flowers in spring.)
             
          • Huw Wyn Jones

            Huw Wyn Jones Apprentice Gardener

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            Thank you Caroline - really appreciate your input.

            It's the 'strict' part of lavender care which puts me off. Are the French varieties better in that respect?

            Love the idea of Berberis but I'm slightly put off by the sharp spikes (in a public park).

            The Hydrangeas box is now firmly ticked :-)
             
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            • CarolineL

              CarolineL Total Gardener

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              Well any shrubby perennial will need some pruning to keep it in check. Lavender is pretty easy - go over it with shears (or even electric hedge trimmer!) to just below where the flower stem starts. French lavender is the same.
              I feel hydrangeas take a lot of space and flower a bit late in the year - but that's just my opinion. I would find out what your volunteers want to see there - if some of them are gardeners, they will have their own opinions - and you will need their agreement/acquiescence if you want them to keep helping!
               
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              • JWK

                JWK Gardener Staff Member

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                Good idea. Also approach your gardens and parks department they will know what grows well with minimal maintenance and what to avoid.
                 
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                • JWK

                  JWK Gardener Staff Member

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                  They should also be able to help source plants at trade prices and maybe have stock themselves.
                   
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                  • Logan

                    Logan Total Gardener

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                    Hello Huw and welcome to GC forums. Lavender likes a lot of drainage to survive for years. So if your soil is heavy work in a lot of grit. If you plant them in the middle and put smaller plants around them you can get away with them getting woody. I've got some that must be 20 years old. What about rhododendrons?
                     
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                    • Huw Wyn Jones

                      Huw Wyn Jones Apprentice Gardener

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                      The volunteers asked me to collect opinions :-) I'm also slightly concerned that Hydrangeas could be a bit big, but I understand there are smaller varieties.

                      @JWK - Parks Dept. long gone, cutbacks :-( However you have given me an idea who to contact :-)

                      @Logan - Rhododendrons are now on the 'further investigation' list.
                       
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                      • Logan

                        Logan Total Gardener

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                        That's good, azaleas are classed as a rhododendron but smaller sometimes.
                         
                      • jowwy

                        jowwy Gardener

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                        Are you thinking of adding some raised beds into the area, some of your volunteers may appreciate the extra height, as less bending…would make them easier to weed and maintain.
                         
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                          Last edited: Sep 29, 2021
                        • Sheal

                          Sheal Total Gardener

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                          Thank you for the pictures, they do help. :)

                          Hydrangeas as has already been suggested are a good idea and Lupins would work if you are prepared to dead head them. Sedum Spectabile (Ice Plant). The smaller Hebe's. Potentilla 'Fruticosa'. Hardy perennial Fuschia's - possibly the smaller ones. And of course there are many flowering bulbs available for all year round.

                          This link may be helpful.....

                          Plants for coastal areas / RHS Gardening
                           
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