FoEP: Improving the Park for the benefit of the whole community
The garden often referred to as the 'Eleonore House Insect-friendly Herbaceous Border' started out as a small garden for sunflowers in 2014. That year the Royal Horticultural Society gave many community groups, including the FoEP, sunflower seeds to plant as part of their 'Growing for Gold' campaign. After careful consideration, it was decided that the seeds could be planted in a garden created for the purpose along the west-facing fence separating Eastfield Park from Eleonore House. (The garden was located on the park side of the fence, the name 'Eleonore House' only being used to identify its location.)
In recent months, FoEP Chair, Vic Smith, has been carefully thinking about the future of gardens in Eastfield Park. The Park does not have any gardens maintained by the Borough Council; all current gardens are the responsibility of the FoEP.
Click pictures for larger view.
The original garden was not very successful. For various reasons we were unable to look after it during the growing season and most of the young sunflower plants were out-competed by a bumper crop of self-seeded oil seed rape! However, during the summer months we thoroughly weeded the garden, planted some donated Michaelmas daisies and tended the few remaining sunflowers. We also planned to extend the garden and plant it with herbaceous plants that would attract a range of insects. Since then we have doubled the length of the garden and slightly widened it. We have improved soil quality by adding sand and compost and kept the garden well-planted with herbaceous plants, most of which are recognised by the RHS as being 'perfect for pollinators'. This year, the garden was also regarded as a 'remembrance garden'; we added forget-me-nots and poppies to the plant mix and people were invited to add remembrance emblems to the garden.
We have already planted Allium species in this garden to bloom next summer and we aim to fill any gaps left by plants that do not survive the winter. We regard this border as a success and the current plan is simply to continue steadily improving it year by year.
In 2015, the FoEP created a wildflower border along the north facing fence between Eleonore House and the Park using commercially available 'wildflower mats'. This garden looked spectacular in 2015 but less so in 2016. In 2016, however, we started to create a large semi-circular wildflower meadow in front of the fence. This was sown in the spring of 2017 and produced variable results, partly because the sowing had been carried out under unsuitable weather conditions. The meadow was left to develop for another year but received a mixed reception from park users; mainly because part of it was dominated by tall chicory plants that obscured the views to and from Eleonore House. The meadow also completely obscurred the earlier wildflower border. Further consideration resulted in a suggestion that the wildflower meadow should be replaced by a wildflower garden, the difference being that, instead of letting a mix of grasses and wildflowers grow with very little control, a deliberate attempt would be made to cultivate selected flowers and discourage most grasses. Such a garden would require much more maintenance than the seeded meadow and the FoEP is currently looking for volunteers to help work on it. The garden would also be divided into sectors so that some sectors could be worked on intensively while others could be left to develop naturally, at least for the time being.
Original plan for a Sunflower Garden (2014)
Plan for Eleonore House Borders (2015).
The FoEP AGM will be held on Tuesday, 19th February following an illustrated public talk, 'Eastfield Park: Achievements, Plans and Setbacks', given by FoEP Chair, Dr Vic Smith.
The talk will be given in the new Broadmead Centre, the home of Broadmead Baptist Church, on the corner of Broadmead Avenue and Park Avenue North (NN3 2QY). The talk will begin at 7.30 pm, and last for about an hour including questions, but doors will be opened at 7.00 pm to give visitors a chance to look at a display of photographs and admire the new building (only part of which is yet open). The AGM will start at about 8.45 and visitors may stay for this or leave as they wish. Voting at the AGM is open only to FoEP members but you can join at the meeting and there is no admission charge. (You are expected to sign a statement that you agree with our aims and that we can keep your contact details in a secure computer file.)
On 9th December the FoEP received a 'joint first' community award from the Campaign to Protect Rural England Northamptonshire Branch. The award was presented at a supper following 'Carols by Candlelight' in St Andrew's Church, Cranford. The other joint winner was 'Geddington Brickyard Garden'. We are hoping to display the award in the Eden Close Community Hub.
The Wildflower Meadow in August, 2017.
Possible plan for a wildflower garden to replace meadow (December, 2018).
Part of the Wildflower Border in 2015.
Plan for E.H. Borders & Meadow (2016).
ANOTHER AWARD FOR THE FoEP