James Street Community Garden
To create a community wildlife garden with natural play space for young children and plenty of seating areas. The community group want the park to become a beautiful, tranquil place for relaxation, whilst being low maintenance.
A 50 m x 30 m former playpark bounded on three sides with sandstone walls and a wrought-iron fence on the fourth.
JSCG has a 5-year build plan, which started in 2016 and is being implemented by the community group.
The design solution
Attractive and enticing entrance
Along the entrance boundary of the garden, trees, shrubs and a native mixed hedge, which extends along the south facing side of the garden, provide an attractive entrance, some enclosure, whilst still providing visibility into the garden.
A garden planted for wildlife
From the entrance, the main path leads through a herbaceous perennial and grass bed, which will be a riot of colour, texture and form, where plants can be viewed up close. These plants will extend the season for pollinators and complement the native wildflower and grass meadows in other areas of the garden.
Seating areas with a sense of enclosure
Off the main path are several seating areas, which are enclosed by planting, providing a peaceful and attractive place to sit either in sun or shade. Two of the seating areas are partially bounded by a drystone wall, which will provide wildlife habitats as well as an attractive addition to the garden. Other areas to sit are provided in the natural play areas too.
A garden for imaginative play
For natural play, I have proposed a grass maze, a willow dome and tunnels, set within a long grass meadow, where trees, a bug hotel, and material for other wildlife habitats. A stepping stone pathway made from rounds of wood leads beneath the canopy of a large existing tree to a natural play area that encourages imaginative play. In this area, large logs are for sitting on, climbing, balancing along, and stumps are arranged to be used as elevated stepping stones or even as a seating area.
A creative solution to a wet area
The wet area has been creatively turned into a positive for the garden rather than a negative. Rainwater coming from adjoining houses to the south of the garden would flow over a rockery-come-water cascade that will channel the water away from the wall down a planted swale, which the water can start to infiltrate the soil and into a rain garden, which is planted with a variety of trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials that do not might periodic saturation. The swale, which can be crossed by a small bridge, will provide an interesting and safe place for children to explore (i.e., no standing water as there is currently) as well as create wetland habitat for wildlife not otherwise provided.
A garden with a sense of place
The design itself is geometric encouraging an inward focus to where the views are and one that complements the geometry of the surrounding town. At the same time, the circular design gives a more natural feel, one that is in keeping with a garden for wildlife.
Overall, the garden is full of plants, but for the most, they will require limited care (certainly less than weekly mowing of large expenses of lawn), so fulfilling the attractive, inspiring and low maintenance brief.