Bratton Avenue Community Garden Design Proposal
Community Green Space
With the ongoing loss of pubs, churches, cinemas, banks, post offices and libraries there is a growing need to create and maintain our public spaces where people can come together. We can all start strengthening communities today by connecting with local groups and projects. This positive action can provide a sense of purpose and achievement, reduce feelings of loneliness, build confidence and self-esteem, improve health and wellbeing, and produce greater pride in our local areas.
The Bratton Avenue triangle of green sits within two rows of houses, and is part of a growing network of green spaces that are maintained by the Town Council as part of an urgent biodiversity plan. The green itself has been kept mown and a path runs all the way around the triangle, giving pedestrian access to the houses.
The Bratton Avenue green is an ideal neighbourhood social space (notwithstanding current covid restrictions). By adding to the biodiversity with trees and flowers there could be more opportunities to enjoy the green as well as increased wildlife-friendly habitats and food for bees and birds.
Molehills that have appeared on the green are a very positive indicator that the soil is healthy and has life in it. (The moles are likely to move on in due course and don’t pose any particular issues). Any planting on the green should be hardy and disease and drought resistant to avoid the need for chemical intervention.
As well as dog walking, picnics, observing wildlife, playing games... spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health problems including anxiety and depression. For example, research into ecotherapy (a type of formal treatment which involves doing activities outside in nature) has shown it can help with mild to moderate depression. This might be due to combining regular physical activity and social contact with being outside in nature.
Being outside in natural light can also be helpful if you experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that affects people during particular seasons or times of year. And people regularly report that getting into nature has helped them with many other types of mental health problems.
The UK’s biodiversity had been massively depleted by centuries of habitat loss, management changes, development and persecution, even before the State of Nature Report’s 1970 baseline. The statistics demonstrate that the abundance and distribution of the UK’s species has, on average, declined since 1970. Many measures suggest this decline has continued in the most recent decade. There has been no let-up in the net loss of nature in the UK. The UK Government’s own assessment indicates that, although progress has been made, the UK will not meet most of the global 2020 targets it committed to through the convention on Biological Diversity.
Silver birch trees, planted in a group, with their light and airy branches and small leaves would offer dappled shade in the summer, as well as autumn colour at the end of the season.
Two small trees (3) to mark the entrance of the green would provide blossom in the spring, autumn colour and a place for the birds throughout the year. Species such as Mountain Ash (rowan) are small in habit, beneficial to wildlife and provide colour from their leaves and berries in the autumn.
As well as the trees within the green there are opportunities to plant trees on nearby street corners (5) which will benefit the birds and help to join up wildlife corridors, as well as enhancing the environment for all and will also reduce mowing costs.
Community Orchard (4)
An orchard is a collection of fruit and, sometimes, nut trees often planted among grass full of wild flowers. Just as traditional orchards were often the centre of village life and a cornerstone of the rural economy, community orchards are excellent places for people to come together to plant and cultivate local and unusual varieties of fruit trees and to use as the focal point for community activities such as Apple Day, open air plays, picnics, story-telling events or festivals or as a green haven in which to relax and unwind.
Even a modest orchard, made up of a single row of fruit trees along the NE edge of the green would provide early blossom for the bees and a rich harvest of fruit for the neighbourhood. Small trees (M26 root stock) would ensure that the fruit is easy to reach as well as being more convenient for pruning.
Orchard management is minimal, but one of the most important activities in orchard care is regular watering by the community, during very dry spells. Young orchards need frequent watering when there isn’t adequate rainfall, especially during the summer.
Basic Orchard Care Calendar
Spring: monitoring, watering as necessary, weeding, fertilizing, mulching, pruning, harvesting
Summer: watering, weeding, mulching, thinning, harvesting
Autumn: monitoring, watering as necessary, weeding, mulching, harvesting