The Waterfront Garden - for People and Wildlife
The Waterfront Garden in Kennet Place came about quite unexpectedly in 2013, after the installation of a flood wall. We gained some land reclaimed from the river, as a much widened if rather oddly shaped grass verge, which is under the control of Wiltshire Council.
After the oak clad wall was completed, we embarked on an informal community project in a very small way at first. A couple of tubs were planted in an attempt to disguise the rather ugly manhole covers, then a wheel barrow was added and gradually possibilities emerged for a community garden….. and much more.
By January 2014, we had formed a constituted group, applied for a grant and have raised funds endlessly ever since. Having been given permission to work on both sides of the wall, we liaised with Action for the River Kennet, who foraged for the prettier marginal plants that could be enjoyed by our neighbours over the river in Town Mill. We also purchased wild flower turf. Our efforts were soon rewarded as the newly created habitat attracted wildlife, including water vole and kingfishers along with the ducks, heron, little egret, moorhens and swans. There was an abundance of pollinating insects and of course, fish. In 2016 we shared first prize for Southwest in Bloom’s most “Outstanding Environmental Project”.
In the cultivated garden, we are increasing sustainability, with beds of perennials, sowing seeds, taking cuttings and growing our own herbs. Our two little “tables for anyone” are used by locals and visitors for picnics, or to simply relax by the water. Our community trestle table allows Kennet Place residents to get together and is now stable on a newly installed gravel base. The café customers also love to sit in the garden whenever the weather allows.
We have undertaken many and varied maintenance projects, from weeding and sweeping the road, to rubble and litter removal from the riverbed - thus exposing the natural gravel. It seems builders and people have been discarding bricks (and much more!) in the river for hundreds of years. We have also renovated a gifted set of rusty table and chairs this year and given a fresh lick of paint to the pallet planter.
It is heart-warming to greet many return visitors from far and wide, who follow our progress on facebook or in reality, as well as local people who divert their shopping route in order to walk through the road. Other visitors enjoy stopping to eat their takeaway, or look at the flowers, but many peer into the river, hoping to spot wildlife.
Ours is a friendly, welcoming garden, where people stop and chat, or just enjoy a ‘stand and stare’ moment by this rare and beautiful chalk stream, with the sound of tumbling water ever present. We love where we live – and hope you to meet you here soon!
We are grateful for the massive support we receive from the community, our volunteers, our mentors, councils, local businesses and Action for the River Kennet.
Val Compton - Kennet Place Waterfront Garden Association