"Devastation at 'mass destruction' of beloved community garden in Coventry"

"Devastation at 'mass destruction' of beloved community garden in Coventry"

Postby dutchman » Thu Aug 05, 2021 5:53 pm

The garden has been described by those who use it as a 'little oasis'

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Residents of a community in Coventry have said they have suffered "sleepless nights" over what they describe as the "mass destruction" of their shared garden.

For the past ten years, a group of neighbours living in the Canley area of the city have tended to their community garden.

Described as a "place of beauty", the garden provides a piece of calm off Coventry's busy Charter Avenue.

It sits at the bottom of their block of flats, which is operated by Citizen Housing.

But green-fingered residents of the flats have always proudly taken responsibility for the garden.

Last month, a contractor employed by Coventry City Council cut down all of the white blossom Russian Vine hedge that borders the garden.

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The vine, which is more than ten years old, provided a habitat for bees in that part of Coventry, and formed a major part of the eco-system there.

"It just shocked me, gave me sleepless nights as well, really affected me," Sue Henderson told CoventryLive.

Ms Henderson, a resident of the block of flats, is the main gardener and works around the clock to maintain it as a peaceful space for the community.

"Basically I do everything all the way around - weeding, cutting the grass, mucking about with the flowers, just generally trying to make it look nice, and they just ruined my life really," she said.

Describing the impact of the garden, she said: "It's just peaceful, quiet, and a place of beauty. It's like a little oasis."

The incident happened last month, and Coventry City Council have said they plan to work with residents to rectify the damage.

Ms Henderson explained what cutting down the hedge, which borders the whole garden, has done: "Well the bees don't like it. The bees were stressed straight away.

"Late at night at 11pm, they're all hanging on the flowers when they should be in the Russian Vine. They just don't like it at all.

"Half of them have disappeared, I've had about 15 die. There's a few bees about today but not as many."

Neighbours also came out to tell CoventryLive about the impact of what happened.

Stuart Deakin, who has lived in the block of flats for more than ten years, said: "For me, I suffered with anxiety and depression and when I actually first moved in here, the garden was the first thing that I saw.

"I thought wow, it's not like any other block in the whole of Coventry to be fair.

"It just makes me feel at peace. I live on the top floor, I've got bad knees, so I struggle with stairs at times, but when I look out my balcony, it's a beautiful sight to see."

Graham Day lives in a house opposite the garden, but enjoys the views from his window.

Mr Day said: "You've only got to look around to see what a lot of joy and pleasantness it brings to the community.

"You quite often see people walking past, they'll stop, they'll poke their head over the railings and have a look, and I quite often see Sue, wind, rain, shine. Even in the dark, I've seen her pottering around with a torch.

"The amount of hours that she actually spends in this garden.... I love my back garden, and I know that you put a lot of love and passion into it, but my garden pales in significance to this!"

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The residents told CoventryLive that when they challenged the worker cutting down the hedge, they were given a curt response and no explanation as to why he was carrying out the work.

The white flowering Russian vine that was cut down housed a growing bee population, and residents say the damage will take years to resolve, as they will have to re-plant the hedge.

A spokesperson for Coventry City Council said: "The worker’s company was contracted by the council to do ‘tidy up’ work in the area, including cutting back plants on overgrown pathways, but were not specifically asked to cut along this fence line.

"We have been in touch with the resident and we apologise for the way she feels she has been dealt with. We have also spoken to our contractor and a meeting has been set up to help resolve the issues."

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Re: "Devastation at 'mass destruction' of beloved community garden in Coventry"

Postby dutchman » Thu Sep 02, 2021 4:50 pm

Coventry residents' relief at resolution over destroyed community garden

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A positive outcome has been reached after a row over the destruction of a hedge bordering a community garden in Coventry.

For the past ten years, residents in Canley have tended to a shared community garden.

But last month, a contractor employed by Coventry City Council cut down all of the white blossom Russian Vine hedge that borders the garden.

After the incident, crestfallen head gardener Sue Henderson t old CoventryLive: "Basically I do everything all the way around - weeding, cutting the grass, mucking about with the flowers, just generally trying to make it look nice, and they just ruined my life really."

But there is some good news for the community, who have now been compensated for their loss, and given the tools to start growing a new hedge.

After we reported on the incident Coventry City Council issued an apology and said they would be in touch to organise a meeting with Sue and the contractor.

The contractor responsible has since gone to to see the garden and meet with Sue, and provided the local community with a £200 voucher for a local garden centre.

Sue told CoventryLive : "He came round about 4pm, knocked on the door, he did a fist pump, he was really nice, he was, he said have fun and enjoy yourself with it."

The white flowering Russian vine that was cut down housed a growing bee population, and Sue has already planned how she will build back their habitat.

"I'm going to get a clematis, an evergreen clematis, for the front where they chopped it down, some sweet box so the bees will like that and will give them some cover, and normal box as well, and some cone flowers - they're herbaceous, the cone flowers - some more rudbeckia, and someone was telling me about a ginkgo tree: they're very pretty but very slow growing.

"I've got some really nice large clay pots around the back that have not been used, and then have a look to see what other things, probably some wild flower seeds for next year, some bulbs for bulb planting time, some aliums, crocuses and daffodils."

And Sue told CoventryLive she is happy to let bygones be bygones and will start adding new plants to the community space.

And what was the fate of the destroyed Russian Vine hedge? "It's still bald but its growing," Sue said.

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