Late in 2018, we began working with a group of residents on Gilesmead Estate in Camberwell, to come up with ideas to improve the garden on the estate, to make it a more welcoming community space. We began a programme of works that included large amounts of new planting, redesign of some existing beds, planting a new pear tree and creation of a new herb bed. We raised the canopy of the larger trees to allow more light into the garden, and we treated all wooden surfaces and benches to help to preserve them.
In order to carry out all of this planting, we held monthly garden workshops for residents and their friends to get involved. As well as the planting, each workshop had a theme, with additional craft activities planned for children.
We turned one corner of the community garden space into a new ‘Butterfly Garden’, with a nod to the famous Camberwell Beauty butterfly! We filled the space with nectar-rich flowering perennials, and we built butterfly boxes that the children decorated and that were hung on the wall in the garden. We also sourced baby caterpillars from an education supplier, and gave these to each of the children on the estate to take home to look after until they reached maturity and emerged from their chrysalis as butterflies – the children then brought them and released them in their new butterfly garden!
As well as the Butterfly Garden, we’ve held pumpkin carving (and pumpkin seed saving) workshops for Halloween, and wreath-making workshops for Christmas, using foliaged foraged from the community garden. When we came together to plant the new pear tree in January 2019, we also made bird feeders to hang around the garden.
In addition to our work in the community garden, we’ve also been carrying out improvements to other smaller plan ting spaces around the estate, including ground-level beds at the entrance to the estate, and some of the raised concrete planters along the walkways.