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.
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.”
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).