Louise Mackey from Bangor has transformed a neglected site where she lives into a colourful and insect friendly community garden. This was made possible by her success in receiving grants from Live Here Love Here’s Small Grant Scheme for 2 years running. Live Here Love Here is a campaign under the charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.
In Louise’s local area there were 2 extremely large flowerbeds which were not maintained, dangerous and an eyesore. Louise applied a grant to improve the area, carrying out the work herself with the help of the local community.
In the summer of 2018 she received her first grant and set about transforming the beds. With the help of her neighbours and a digger they removed all the old shrubs but left the existing trees. They fixed the collapsing walls, built bird & bat boxes and a large bug hotel, which the local children helped to fill.
Louise went on to plant over 600 bulbs and over 350 insect friendly plants. In March 2019, Louise held a community event to officially open the garden. Local residents and Councillors came along to support and enjoy refreshments. They also watched a wooden sculpture of a badger family being carved by a chainsaw artist.
Badgers were chosen as the subject for the sculpture as they have lived in the area for many years. This sculpture is now a major feature of garden.
'The community has come together...'
Last year saw the project’s 2nd grant being obtained and with it the plans for putting in stepping stones, wooden mushroom seats for children, more plants and a watering system.
Louise, who completed a 2 year Royal Horticultural Society course in the “Principals of Horticulture” just before starting this project says,
“I will always be grateful to Live Here Love Here for this opportunity to change an abandoned site into something beautiful.
The community has come together and are now able to enjoy the special place we are lucky enough to have in our area. The insects are enjoying it too! The project has been and continues to be hard work but definitely worth it.”
Louise's 10 tips to gardening in Spring
Spring is a good time to sow wildflower seeds. Wildflowers are a great source of food for our pollinators.
Keep on top of weeding. Weeds can deprive our flowers of much needed water and nutrients.
You can feed and treat you lawn for moss during springtime. This will help to prepare the lawn for the growing season.
If you are cutting the grass for the first time, keep the blade quite high. Then make everything look neat by cutting your lawn edges too.
It’s important to water plants in pots every couple of days. With the lack of rain recently even the flower beds could do with a drink. Leave a shallow bowl of water in your garden. Birds, bees and even hedgehogs will be very grateful.
If you are cutting back trees and shrubs please check for birds’ nests and chicks at this time of year.
Roses will benefit from a feed at this time of year when they are starting to grow.
As the soil warms up this is a good time to plant or move evergreen trees or shrubs.
Snails and slugs are abundant at the moment. Hedgehogs, frogs and thrushes prey on them so encourage them into your garden.
If you haven’t already, give lavender plants a cut back. Cut back to new growth but never into the hard wood, as this will prevent new growth. Prune and shape into domes. They will also benefit from a feed.
Got green fingers?
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in horticulture, there’s a wealth of information on courses available from the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).