Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Friday, 18 December 2009

OOTS: St Laurence School

Regular readers of this blog know that one of the reasons I've got such a bee in my bonnet about public planting is because the roundabouts in Chippenham are very uninspiring. All too often they're a motley collection of the same dreary shrubs with the odd tree, plus grassed areas mown to within an inch of their lives. I've seen some really good examples in Taunton and Poole, but have yet to have been there on days conducive to taking pictures so I can show them off to you.

So I was taken by surprise last Saturday when I visited St. Laurence School in nearby Bradford on Avon for the first time. We had an extra choir rehearsal arranged there for the morning as our choirmaster felt we needed it ready for Tuesday's Christmas Cabaret*. The road leading up to the school entrance has a large roundabout with the pictured planting. There were a couple of off-centre columnar conifers to give some height to the arrangement, surrounded by lavender and rosemary to give flowers, scent and attract wildlife, especially bees. All this was edged with a wavy grass to add some movement. Euphorbia were beginning to poke their noses through the soil and a (self-sown?) Verbascum was getting ready to bloom next year.

It might not be the absolute best example of a roundabout planting I've seen, but I felt this one's much better than usual owing to a more exciting combination of plants, some of which aren't used that much around these parts. I was so pleased to see something which not only had year-round interest needing minimal maintenance, but also changed with the seasons. It cheered me up on a gloomy Saturday morning and I expect it'll look even better in the summer, just like Patient Gardener has shown us with the planting by her local library.

* = Saturday mornings aren't that conducive to a good rehearsal as we were a bit tired and grumpy, plus the acoustics in the school hall were dreadful. Thankfully, the actual concert in Trowbridge on Tuesday evening went much better :)

I'm still collecting my photos together of Chippenham's festive tree and lights to show you later, where I suspect I'll give Carrie a run for her money. If you have your neighbourhood's festive sparkle or your town's tree to show off, or even some public planting at this time of year for us to look at, then do post about it over at yours and then add your Out on the Streets contribution to the growing list here.

7 comments:

  1. You're v lucky to have plants on your roundabouts, most of those around me are simply circles of tarmac. Not very inspiring at all.

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  2. Oh I take that as a challenge! Up loading a few as I write, prepare to be very uninspired by Carrickfergus's Christmas trees and slightly impressed by Belfast. That roundabout is lovely, we just have plain grass or just tarmac - not terribly adventurous...or maybe I need to look harder! :)

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  3. That is a very imaginative planting, VP! Worthy of being seen here. Is the grass Nasella? That is such a good one, we use it in quantity here, for it self sows and divides with ease. Glad your chorus went well for the real deal. :-)
    Frances

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  4. Well that was a surprise for you and hopefully will be permanent and be around for some time.

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  5. That is a nice planting...I love the movement that grasses add and with passing cars~~perfect. gail

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  6. It is no different across the pond. Although, the group I work with, the Charleston Parks Conservancy has made some inroads into this bleak expression of filling our public spaces with little creativity. It is luck to find one like you came across.

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  7. Martyn - perhaps this is another opportunity Boris needs to grasp for greening up London?

    Carrie - it's a pity that so many places have just tarmac. I can feel another campaign coming on!

    Frances - I'm a complete dunce when it comes to grasses because I'm only just beginning to appreciate them. I'll try and find out...

    Joanne - it looks like it's there to stay. I must ask the school if they did it themselves.

    Gail - that's exactly what struck me about it too :)

    Compost in my shoe - I've just found out there's some heavy lobbying going on about 'greening our grey'. I'll be writing about it in the New Year. I think the US generally is much further ahread than we are with community groups being involved with public planting (Britain in Bloom is a major exception), I wonder if the Master Gardener program is one of the major factors in the difference between our 2 countries...

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