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May 17

Diary of a Bloomer May 08 – Birmingham Post Article

Moseley is seething with activity today. Groups of volunteers are beavering away turning our action plans into reality.We went to check out our hanging baskets at Birmingham Parks and Nurseries this week. There among thousands of tender young plants raised from seed by Nursery Manager, Chris Jones and his team was the precious consignment for Moseley in Bloom. We had chosen the plants before Christmas with the help of the city’s Floral Enhancement officer, Gary McManus and had opted for a “hot and zingy” selection instead of our previous pastel shades. The stock looked fantastic and will stay safely under cover until early June when the danger of frosts has passed.There’s no doubt that the hanging baskets and window boxes will provide the floral drama in Moseley Village this summer but it is the tip of the iceberg. The four pillars of the RHS Britain in Bloom campaign are horticulture, environment, sustainability and community. This is our framework and ensures that permanent landscaping is a high priority.

Our most dramatic achievement was in 2006 when we expropriated a weed infested tarmac traffic island at a prime location just above the County Cricket Ground. We wanted unusual and innovative planting that would reflect the quirky personality and alternative image of Moseley. Darren Share, head of the Parks and Nurseries Department was enthusiastic and contacted Akamba Nurseries where Chris Canaan came up with a thrilling display of exotics. Long term sponsorship was swiftly offered by local resident Alan Holland of Fishers Property Lettings and the roundabout was transformed it into a tropical paradise that instantly made the local news. The Judges loved it.

This year we are determined to deal with the desolate and debris ridden approach to the main entrance of Moseley Park and Pool. It is a challenge. You could describe it as a dry and sunny location with potential, or less optimistically as the rear parking area behind some High Street premises and a favourite watering hole for street drinkers. Working closely with Head Ranger Christine Williams we obtained the consent and a financial contribution from the landowner. MIB Chair, Natalie Higgins persuaded local garden designer, Glenn Fraser to get involved with a brief suggesting a woodland feel evoking the memory of a forgotten garden. Glenn soon took ‘emotional possession’ of the space and created a concept using summer jasmine, climbing roses and clematis Montana to clothe the walls, and a rather thorny shrubbery to deter intruders. The shrubs are strong on autumn colour and variegated evergreens and include two barrier forming rosa rubrifolia. These thorny thickets have soft under plantings of foxgloves, asters, euphorbias, geraniums, Japanese anemones and nicotiana. The site was cleared on 1st May thanks to the good work of our first team of corporate volunteers. Recruited by committee member Chrissie Small they are her colleagues from Lloyds TSB Autolease who donated their “Time To Care” day to Moseley in Bloom. During long muscle-aching hours of team bonding they demolished a tumbledown outhouse, uncovered old stonework, painted trellis and barrowed tons of brick and rubble into waiting skips. Glenn, Chrissie and more volunteers are working today, digging in compost, hanging the trellis and finally the excitement of planting.

Woodbridge Road Police Station is another project where collaboration is the key to a successful community outcome. The once attractive forecourt had become overgrown and in need of some tender loving care. In 2006 the Heart of England in Bloom Judges recommended “better co-ordination of the maintenance of the Police Station grounds” It was time for a makeover. Last summer, thanks to the high velocity Laburnum Grove Residents Action Group, LAGRAG, led by the indefatigable Val and Brendan Patchell and to volunteers WPC Rachel Lamerton and WPC Sharon Johnson all the beds were cleared of rubbish and weeded. The long side border was planted with phormiums, grasses, and an acer and a seasonal succession of white bergenias, spiraea and cosmos which help lighten the area against the dark brick wall which should eventually be covered by the two existing Parthenocissus henryana.

After a tentative start there is now the prospect of a really good partnership cemented by financial contributions from the three parties: West Midlands Police, MIB and LAGRAG. The scheme donated by benevolent benefactor John Cutts of Landscape by Design, aims for year round low-maintenance planting and necessitates clearing out the tired old planting and planting anew. Natalie Higgins has appealed for” six burly officers who want to work up a sweat to have the area cleared in an hour” ready for the LAGRAG team who have earmarked this weekend to plant three red stemmed acers, surrounded by grasses and prepare the triangular bed for summer bedding and bulbs.

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Sue Brown and Julia Watkins from Lupin Design, Build and Plant have also been press ganged to join our sensitive and caring version of the Groundforce team and were involved in the redesign of the rather boring old triangular rose bed at the junction of Reddings Road and Moorcroft Road. Julia and Sue came up with a simple sculptural scheme of small green hebes balls infilled with Lavender Hidcote. that was in sympathy with the Arts and Crafts influences of the surrounding architecture. The residents AGM voted for additional excitement in the form of an ornamental tree with interesting bark, fundraising is underway and the residents are planning a communal planting day on June 21st.

Lupin are also involved in our latest project which started this very week at Shaftesbury House following an approach by Jula Brady of St Basils, the housing charity that works with young people. Lupin have come up with an “Edible Border” growing plants herbs that they can use in their cooking and berries, seeds and hips of interest to hungry wildlife. Jula hopes that the garden can be showcased in the MIB Open Gardens Weekend, 14th and15th June. We might recruit some of the girls as MIB Volunteers.