Saturday, 5 June 2010

Peace Garden day in the park

Yesterday (Friday) saw the Nottingham Peace Garden take another step towards its official opening. If I understand correctly this has been set for next Saturday (12 June) as part of the Dunkirk and Lenton Community Festival. However, as the specially made fencing from patterned steel will not now be fitted until the week after, it would make sense if the opening was delayed. I will keep you posted.

The Nottingham Peace Garden was first mentioned at a Lenton Recreation Ground Park Users' Consultative Group meeting was first mentioned about five years ago, when the group behind the idea were looking for a park to be home to the Peace Garden. After a series of hiccups and a lot of tenacity, things finally began to move last year when a plan was agreed and in February this year, its location in the park was finally agreed (see the pics on the Parkviews webside park page). So, what happened yesterday?
But first a step back to 10 February 2010, when I took this pic of Peace Group members standing on the line of the decorative metal fence which will mark the Nottingham Pleace Garden's boundary. It is in the south-east corner of the park and is overlooked by the long terrace of late-Victorian houses on Devonshire Promenade and the end of Church Grove, a late-Victorian cul-de-sac only accessible by a footpath from Church Street. It is a lovely spot by any measure.
Marina and her daughter, Giselle, are the driving force behind Nottingham Peace Garden asked me if I would take some pictures of the day. In my last blog on 21 May 2010 I included some pics of the garden being marked out by Ian and on Wednesday just gone, turf was removed to reveal the outline of the 'dove' shape, which is at the heart of the garden. I took this pic at 8.30am, with Marina and Anne, the landscape gardener responsible for the disign and selection of plants, already on site.
 Marina and Anne make ready for the day before anyone else arrives, double-checking the layout and worrying whether it would be big enough. As we all know, such things go with the territory. When you have devoted so much time to something, you want it be perfect on the day.
Soon, others begin to arrive and the preliminary work which needs to be done before the volunteers arrive gets underway, with Ian, Anne and Feliss looking closely at the layout plan.
 Soon after, Harry (Lenton Rec's apprentice groundsperson) Steve (a Park Ranger) and a visiting apprentice listen to instructions being given off camera by Ian. It seems that the dove's tail needs changing.
Harry is soon diverted to removing plants from the old flower bed in this corner of the park before it is turfed over. The bed has had a short life, having only been laid out by Dave a couple of years ago.
 By mid-morning, the first of the volunteers have arrived to help with the planting…
…including some children — which was nice to see.
In amongst the volunteers are some like Lynne on the right, who know a thing or two about plants and so are able to help other volunteers to put the correct plants in the right places.

And before you know it, it's lunchtime and all the volunteers stop for lunch.
The park pavilion had been opened so that the volunteers and others could make drinks and eat if they wanted to, but the day was so lovely that everyone decided to stay by the garden and eat where they were.
It was a chance to speak with a view of the volunteers who had turned up to help. Joanna on the left works for 'Sprout Nottingham', a local charity devoted to helping people get involved in gardening, and Hayley, one of its volunteers. They had been contacted by the Nottingham Peace Garden Group.
Superman aka Daniel from Madrid (but currently staying in Beeston) and Paul from nearby Strelley also came along to help. I think Paul is doing a Superman impression. They found out via the Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership Forum.
A little later after lunch and I had gone to play bowls, I saw Erika and Sarah, who had come around to the bowling greens from the peace garden to plant out some of the plants Harry was removing. They told me that they first met when they worked together as park rangers for Derby City Council and came along after seeing the call for volunteers on the Facebook site belonging to Nottingham City Council's Parks Department.

The day went well and, as my pics show, attracted volunteers from a variety of sources. A good few were local residensts and students, including Giselle, who I mentioned at the beginning. A great day, as I hope these pics show.
By the time I left the park after playing bowls, there was nothing that would tell a casual observer that this had been the scene of intense activity earlier in the day and that it was the heart of the new Nottingham Peace Garden, as yet unannounced to the wider world. By the end of the month, it will be a defined space within Lenton Recreation Ground. I hope there will be room for a bench, so that visitors may sit and reflect upon the intent and vision which had led to its creation.

As a footsoldier and a supporter of the peace garden, I thank Marina and Giselle and their colleagues for bringing the dreams to my park and making them a reality.

Israel faced a fresh wave of international condemnation today when its troops boarded a boat attempting to break the blockade of Gaza and forcibly diverted it to the port of Ashdod just five days after its botched assault on a six-boat flotilla ended in the deaths of nine activists and international isolation for Israel. An unknown number of naval commandos stormed the MV Rachel Corrie in international waters, about 20 miles from the coast of Gaza.

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