Consultation: Garden features

This page forms part of the public consultation which runs until December 14, 2018. We want your ideas so that we can together create a wonderful garden for the Clay Farm community.

Currently (October 2018) the garden is mostly a 'blank canvas'. Its area is outlined in red below. The garden is split by Hobson Avenue running north-south. It will also be split by a cycleway (to be constructed) running east-west following the line of the gas main (solid purple).

In the area between the dashed purple lines ('the easement') planting is limited according to this guidance document.


Here are some features that we could have in the garden:

  • trees, fruit, vegetables, herbs, flowers, flowering shrubs & climbers – ideally using native plants and providing specific fodder species
  • variety of growing spaces – raised beds, borders, under glass, tubs/pots, espaliers/fans, hedgerow
  • habitats for wildlife – plants, trees, hedges, bird, bat, bug and hedgehog boxes, hibernaculars, bee hives
  • pond – safe – pond dipping and wildlife habitat
  • boundaries – walls for espalier/fan trained fruits – hedges (can be laid)
  • polytunnel/ indoor growing space
  • seating areas – sun and shade – turf “benches”
  • compost areas – for recycling garden waste on-site
  • bays for leaves/woodchip/soil conditioner – for receiving deliveries of useful (and often free) biomass
  • arches at each entrance – these are already funded through the Public Arts money associated with the development and will be designed by Nils Norman, who created the hides on the Country Park and the bridge across the brook nearby (yet to be installed). Watch this space for drawings and proposals coming soon.

Of the features above, which would be your favourites? What would you add? Where would you put them (refer to the ‘blank canvas’ above), and why?

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Here is a link to all the consultation pages.

11 thoughts on “Consultation: Garden features”

  1. No pond (any water) please, otherwise it will become an unsafe area for kids. There are other nearby places with ponds – I don’t see a need for another one.
    Yes for seating areas please, either benches or just space for blankets. May be close to areas where kids could play/learn about gardening and wildlife.

    • Why not a raised pond eg a pond in a raised bed with no climbable access.
      Children, supervised, love ponds and pond dipping.
      I would not envisage unsupervised children having access to it so providing reasonable precautions are in place why not have a pond with frogs, tadpoles, pondskaters, etc.
      There is very little accessible water for pond dipping etc in the area so a safe one would be a good resource.

  2. I still hesitated about ponds unless access protects against small children straying into the area and falling face down into even shallow water.
    Otherwise including all the above suggested features is important. Seating of some kind in both areas – ie on each side of the road.
    Definitely important to grow and share produce. The garden could work with groups such as existing healthy/low cost cookery courses.

  3. I understand the concern about the dangers of water – maybe we need to look at ways to manage this safely as the opportunity for education on the garden about pond life, bugs and why water is essential to bio-diversity will be lost. And kids just love pond dipping so it is a way to engage them. I think we need to find a creative way to make this work.

    I would like to see quirky features made of natural materials, with some curves and tucked away areas to make the garden an intriguing place to wander around. Grassed over seating is a great idea.

    To bring people into the garden who might not see themselves as gardeners, perhaps an area for quiet contemplation, yoga, tai-chi practice etc could be tucked in a corner.

    Practical areas for composting, recycling, bins etc need to be provided in as aesthetically pleasant a way as possible.

    I mentioned in the “building” section the need for indoor growing space – so a greenhouse on the side of the building or a polytunnel (attractiveness issue?) is a must. Maybe some of this indoor space could be available for people with very small gardens who want to grow their own seedlings and plants for their own patch – maybe rent shelf space to help raise money to maintain the garden?

  4. I would prefer the emphasis to be on things that are attractive to children and young people. In my experience this general means attracting wildlife, growing things they can eat (especially fruit) and having a corner where they can play. What about some hens? Or even other animals?

    • I think maintenance of animals is one issue, needs dedicated people on a daily basis. Also, immediate neighbours may have views about animals on their doorstep? And would need to look at additional insurance issues. Could maybe consider this further down the line once the garden is a really thriving going concern, but perhaps not at this stage.

  5. There are chickens near the Foster Road guided bus stop so this need is already satisfied.
    Livestock, whilst attractive, have maintenance costs and need nominated carers.
    Perhaps more discussion on this when the area is more established and commitments of people are better known.
    Lots of ideas but are they matched by volunteers and commitment for the medium/long term?
    Slow steady positive progress to keep the community garden viable is, I feel, preferable to attempting too much too quickly.

  6. The summer garden parties demonstrated the need for a large area for socialising. Perhaps the area should be planted with grass, trees and flowers to start with and then later as groups come forward who want to participate an area could be allocated to them for their activities. e.g. particularly the schools. This would require a long term commitment from them to maintain their section. We need a composting area and, as the poly tunnel is temporary, proper greenhouse, either attached to or nearby the building.

  7. There should be a large open area for events, with some provision on site for wet weather.

    Areas for growing food including accessible beds of various heights. The raised bed at the new allotments nearby look OK to me (although one is far too large) but I feel they should be tested out with a range of users before we build more of the same.
    Also areas for perennial food plants – these require the most careful planning since it’s generally hard to move established plants.
    Also conventional plots for annual fruit & veg crops (perhaps these can move around over the years). To those who say that the allotments meet this need, I say that this community garden land is part of the overall 2ha. allotment provision for the Clay Farm development, and the planning documents clearly state that the community garden will be used for growing food, amongst other things. What might work really well is the provision of small veg plots in the community garden (c.f. the council’s allotment ‘starter plots’) from which people who become keen/hungry can upscale to a larger plot on the allotments if they want to. Thus there’s no need for large veg plots in the community garden.

    I want to see ponds here (for the wildlife value and natural garden pest control) but safety is totally critical. How about a beautifully artistic wrought iron domed grid, bolted in position over the pond, allowing most wildlife through but not even the smallest child? I say bolted rather than permanently fixed because you’d probably need to remove the grid to access the pond for maintenance once a year or so.
    Maybe our friends at the Wildlife Trust know about proven ways to make ponds safe?

    And lots of other wildlife features and design it to be wildlife-friendly overall. Totally organic please. Our experience of showing schoolchildren around the allotments is that mini-beasts are more interesting than plants.

    Composting – I think there should be a large 2 or 3 bin system in each quarter of the garden, to avoid moving garden waste large distances and across road or cycleway. Think of each quarter being a closed loop in terms of bulky fertility as far as possible. Where you grow fruit & veg, also grow comfrey. Where there are many trees, have a bin for leaf mould (distinct from the main compost bins).

    Additionally, design a system for contributions of suitable kitchen waste (not cooked food/meat) from nearby homes where the council kerbside collection doesn’t work so well. Those compostables can be mixed into the large compost bins. It’s likely that a lot of high-nitrogen material will come, in which case also ask for contributions of high-carbon stuff like cardboard, to balance the nitrogen in the compost. It’s important to ensure that contributions are clean e.g. no plastic labels/tape on cardboard and no meat/plastic/foil etc in the food waste. I wish I knew how to ensure that!

    Biomass inputs – woodchip, leaves and soil conditioner (from the kerbside green waste collections) are really useful for most types of gardening and are free/cheap _if_ you have a conveniently accessible drop-off point. I suggest two drop-off points with space for a tree surgeon’s trailer to reverse & dump a load should be designed along Pinnington Close or Hobson Avenue, for the east and west halves of the garden.

    Bear in mind that the perimeter hedge will produce lots of prunings every year. Disposal of hedge prunings is an issue at Foster Road allotments. From direct experience, I believe the best solution would be to shred prunings on site and use for mulching or covering informal paths or added incrementally into the main compost bins. Maybe a suitable powerful shredder could be shared between the allotments (old and new) and the garden?

    To those who have said “all lawn & flower beds”, or that the garden should not be used for one thing or the other, I say that this is a community garden and therefore inevitably will include a wide variety of features.

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