Tag Archive: recreation


Local residents in Walsall hold a 'popup' event at Chuckery Village Green- one of the winning projects

Local residents in Walsall hold a ‘popup’ event at Chuckery Village Green- one of the winning projects

More than 80 unloved and neglected urban spaces across the country will be transformed into green oases for everyone to use, thanks to a share of a £1.5million dedicated fund, Communities Secretary Gregg Clark has announced.

Increasing the availability of green space draws more people outside, giving residents, particularly in urban areas without gardens of their own, more space to relax, get together with their neighbours, grow food and provide safe space for children to play.

87 Community Groups, from Newcastle in the north to Penryn in the south-west, will have the money to create their own ‘dream’ pocket parks, developing small parcels of land, sometimes as small as the size of a tennis court. Clark said:

“These winning bids all have a strong community focus at the core of their plans and their designers have thought up highly creative ideas to turn unloved urban spaces into the green lungs of their communities that will be enjoyed for years to come”

Permarin Community Group, in the south-west, plan to turn an unused area of tarmac into a native Cornish Garden with space for children to play. A Disability Group in Wolverhampton plan to turn a 30 year old tipping zone in to a natural wildlife area, working with local residents and people with poor mental health or physical disabilities to create a pocket park. And at Chuckery Village Green, in Walsall, a group plan to make the most of some cherry trees on a derelict plot by planting an edible herb and vegetable garden, using the produce to make and sell pies and jams.

Peri pocket park today- due for a major makeover

Permarin pocket park in Cornwall, today- due for a major makeover

Each community group has been allocated grants of up to £15,000 to create a pocket park, which has been defined for this programme as a piece of land of up to 0.4 hectares, although many are around 0.02 hectares.

Chuckery village Green's Cherry trees- part of the plan for food growing

Chuckery village Green’s Cherry trees- part of the plan for food growing

Graham Duxbury, Groundwork Chief Executive, said:

“We’re delighted the government is supporting communities and councils to do more. For many local groups, improving the park at the end of their street is the first step in getting much more involved in how their neighbourhood is run.”

Further information: Government Website with locations of all the winning projects

Old School Gardener

(from an original in ‘Landscape and Amenity’ Magazine, March 2016)

IMG_0851Our recent visit to Portugal included a longer trip 1 hour north from Lisbon to a fascinating park (it is too big to be called a garden)- in fact it is billed as the biggest oriental park in Europe, stretching to around 35 hectares.

Developed within the Quinta dos Loridos vineyard, the Buddha Eden Peace Park was inspired as recently as 2001, when wealthy Portuguese investor and art patron José Berardo was shocked by the Taliban government’s destruction of the Giant Buddhas in Afghanistan.  In response to the demolition of these masterpieces of the late Gandhara period, Berardo initiated the Buddha Eden in an homage to these cultural and spiritual monuments.

Buddhas, pagodas, terracotta statues and carefully placed sculptures (modern and western) can be found throughout the park. It is estimated that some six thousand tons of marble and granite were used to create this monumental work of art.

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It is certainly an impressive achievement and one which has been laid out to a monumental scale. There are beautifully framed views and a wide range of interesting features to capture your attention as you wander round the clearly defined pathways. The planting, as you might expect at this scale, is simple and must look dramatic earlier in the season when masses of Agapanthus are in flower.

The central staircase is the focal point of the park, where the reclining golden Buddha, despite its size, creates a sense of calm.

At the central lake, Koi (Japanese carp) fish can be seen, and sculpted dragons rise out of the water.

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There are seven hundred hand-painted terracotta soldiers, each of them unique copies of those which were buried some 2,200 years ago in China. These looked to be in need of repainting (and in one or two cases more significant repair), but being able to walk among them (they were all well over 6 feet tall) was a strangely unnerving (but enjoyable) experience.

The park is certainly a fantastic visitor experience, though by the end of our visit I was feeling a little ‘over buddhad’ and almost overwhelmed by the monumentality of everything. Perhaps some thought needs to be given to creating some smaller, more human scale spaces which can complement the rest of the Park – and in doing so, perhaps making the experience of this even more intense.

The park seems to be unsure of what it is trying to be, perhaps at a stage of transition from one man’s passionate and bold move to preserve a cultural legacy to something akin to a modern-day theme park- nicely captured by the electric train that ferries visitors unwilling or unable to walk around the site!

Old School Gardener

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