Situated next to a large deprived inner city housing estate – namely Saint Ann’s – these allotments form a valuable commodity for local people, including myself. I first encountered these allotments in 2003. A hostel in neighbouring Sneinton that i was residing in took on a plot to help provide us residents with some purpose. Although not named so, this was essentially Social and Therapeutic Horticulture. I feel that my past experiences allow me to be compassionate towards other people who access Social and Therapeutic Horticulture. My calm demeanor makes me approachable and able to get along with people from many walks of life.
Of the nearly 700 allotment plots on The Saint Ann’s Allotments, around 10% are run as wildlife/community plots. The Urban Nature Garden is one that I have spent around 150 hours volunteering on.
The Urban Nature Garden has a focus on providing a space for people to visit, interact with nature and learn about wildlife, in a safe and friendly setting.
As I’ve learnt a number of times, conservation can often be quite destructive!
To create this natural haven has involved the clearing of plenty of overgrowth including lots of brambles and nettles. Shears, loppers and secateurs are the usual tools. We remove all the overgrowth once it has been cut so the nutrients cannot make their way back into the soil. This is because we want to attract wild flowers and these thrive in poor soil conditions. The work is sometimes hard going and we must be prepared for numerous stings and scratches! But there are rewards. Six Southern Orchids were found growing in the plot photo’d in the bottom right corner. (they are not visible in the photo) And after we cleared out the adjacent plot, we found a grape vine growing wild.
I enjoy the hard work and enjoy learning about conservation and how to preserve wildlife. I find being outdoors with wildlife very beneficial.
We have also constructed a large bug hotel, consisting of wooden crates filled with ‘homes’ for small creatures. It is built in the shade so it is more likely to remain cool and damp – how insects like it. We have poked hollow sticks in, old plant pots, roof tile slates, tree branches and other bits of recycled material. Altogether, it makes a great home for all sorts of Arthropods – from ants and bees to woodlice and spiders.
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