Gardening at Brownhills Community Centre
How it all began - Yoke van der Meer
The Club came into being from 2012 when a retired friend brought to my attention that there was a need for ‘greening up’ the Community Centre.
As you can see from the pictures taken it was rather grey then.
But fortunately we had 3 small raised beds put in to start of our Garden Club with an average of 5 enthusiastic amateurs and growing our first crops. There was the border below the old oak near the entrance newly planted up as well with small shrubs by ‘the Princes Trust’.
Now more than 4 years later a lot has changed outside the Centre.....
There was a new much larger raised bed built in the winter of 2013-2014 and we grew our first vegetables in a 4-year crop-rotation. This coming season we will grow the last cycle and in 2018 we will be starting from the first rotation again as in 2014. We try and aim for an attractive, all year round production and at present we still have mixed salad, beet, ‘rainbow’ chard and Russian Kale we can harvest! The first 3 vegetables are not at their best but the Kale is good to harvest and tasty mashed with potatoes (as we do in my native ‘Holland’) or as I have just found out with Sweet potatoes even nicer! The trick is to strip the leafy part of the midribs. The kale which you find in the supermarkets is cut into small parts including the hard midribs and so need boiling longer!
The planting below the oak has been altered and many more plants and bulbs being add to all the time to make it attractive all year round.
You will also have noted the ‘no brick garden’ situated against the wall near the back-entrance into the building. We basically lifted the old blue bricks here to make way of coal slag which is about 2’ deep and added a small layer of topsoil to grow plants. The plants we grow here since 2015 have done very well and also provide colour and interest for a long season.
In 2014 our caretakers built the first 4 pallet-pots. They looked superb in the first summer! The lining however was not ideal as was the soil used to fill them.
In 2015, with aid of a grant through the Hardy Plant Society (the Kenneth Black Bursary) we had enough money to re-build and re-paint + fill with better quality compost. These are all filled with plants for all year round interest as well as providing material for our Flower-Arranging club which is really by the same people in our colder months and the outdoor garden club activities are not as attractive! The 2 pallet-pots in the front-building have a more solid evergreen appearance and don’t change too much during the last 2 summers although they had an additional beautiful display of the annual climber ‘Morning Glory’.
To complement the 3 small raised beds, 1 large vegetable bed, ‘no brick garden’, old oak border and the 4 pallet-pots we also planted 4 fruit-trees in small, purpose-built plant-pockets against the large brick shed. These were planted in spring 2014 and are trained against the wall. Then we always manage to create some temporary displays such as the hanging baskets and mixed flower-pots which look best in mid-summer.
We managed to achieve the highest reward of the RHS last summer; ‘Outstanding’ for the garden at the Activity Centre and a Gold Medal for our contribution in the Highstreet for ‘Britain in Bloom’.