Part of the community garden site has been allocated to what we call “small garden spaces”.
The idea is that these areas of the community garden should provide ideas and inspiration for visitors, and hopefully encourage them to try new things in their own garden, allotment or balcony.
At the time of writing, we have established five of these small space gardens.
the orchard garden
Because we have to deal with flooding each year, our volunteers moved several tons of topsoil into the orchard garden prior to the trees being planted, in the hope that the new trees would be better able to survive future floods. So far, they have done so.
Planting the cordons at an angle slows their rate of growth and also increases the length of the stem, and hence the number of fruits produced.
For our small trees, we use MM106 rootstock. For even smaller trees use M26 rootstock. Amongst the apple varieties growing in our orchard garden are
Tydeman’s Early Worcester, Spartan, Sturmer Pippin, Court Pendu Plat, Greensleeves, Pixie and Orleans Reinette. There are also plum and damson trees in the orchard, along with some soft fruit.
the edible flower garden
The garden provides a glorious splash of colour throughout the summer, and of course the bonus is that everything is edible!
Amongst the varieties grown in this space are nasturtiums, marigolds, pansies and flowering herbs such as rosemary, marjoram and thyme.
the medicinal plant garden
Attractively arranged in seven connected raised beds at different heights, the medicinal plant garden contains plants that are known to help with particular ailments. Each of the seven beds is devoted to plants that are helpful with a specific condition or problem.
For example, there are beds devoted to plants for the immune system (including echinacea, nettle and Euphrasia), sleep and mood (lavender, valerian and St John’s wort) and pain relief (feverfew, poppy, meadowsweet) and the digestive system (chamomile, fennel, peppermint).
the pollinator garden
One of the biggest challenges we face on the community garden is flooding. In 2021, a particularly bad year, the floodwaters reached a height of one and a half metres (4 feet 11 inches) in the concrete area of the garden (and even deeper in the orchard garden).
In order to protect our beehives, we have invested in a small floating pontoon thanks to grant funding from Worcester city council. When our site floods, the pontoon helps ensures our beehives rise slowly and majestically above the surrounding mayhem. The hives are located in an area of the garden which is being turned into a native wildflower area. The idea is to provide a haven for all pollinators, not simply our honey bees (which in fact compete for food with our wild bees and other insects). To that end, the garden includes a wonderful insect hotel donated by our friends at Worcester Environmental Group as well as smaller insect hotels, bird and bat boxes.
the vertical garden and balcony
Many city dwellers have small gardens, patios, decks or balconies. We often think that this limits what we can do from a vegetable and edible plant point of view, but at the community garden we are developing an example vertical and balcony garden that shows what can be done in such small spaces. The vertical garden will:
– use edible climbing and upright variants, under planting where possible,
– include containers that we have built ourselves from reused or donated materials, that are as sustainable as possible
– show how to capture and use rainfall for irrigation, powered by solar energy or hand watering
– include compost making facilities
– have bee and bug friendly boxes and hotels
We have an extra challenge in that we are on a flood plain (it can flood up to 1.5m high, and the ground is concrete being an old stable yard, so we will be building on a raised platform consisting of gabion blocks and a wooden sleeper-based frame.