Well, this has been a windy and rainy month. I have kept myself busy doing small jobs for people but the main project that has occupied me this month has been a possible joint venture with some Wythenshawe residents. The idea is to make use of a fallow piece of land and create a food-growing project in Wythenshawe. As the proposal grew, it became clear that the vision the group has could be utilised for any under-used piece of land. This type of food growing project coupled with making use of land that is not being used for anything else is very popular at the moment. There is a food-growing project behind the McDonalds on Altrincham Road that I have been involved in. This project has been a great success, with local residents learning how to grow their own food and enjoying harvesting their crops. The group have installed a poly-tunnel and are building a pond on the site to encourage further flora and fauna to move in. Other projects in Manchester include the Future Foods and Growing Manchester projects, all supported by Manchester City Council and other organisations such as Sow the City, a social enterprise who are committed to encouraging education and experience in growing fresh healthy food. It seems in these times of austerity and concerns over the mass produced food industry that people are turning to growing their own carrots and potatoes and finding out how easy it is to produce and eat their own crops. Of course, carrots and potatoes are only a small example of the produce you can grow yourself. On my own allotment I have grown onions, garlic, courgettes, runner beans, squash and pumpkin, beets, chard, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, cabbages, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, various salad and lettuces as well as a strawberry bed and fruit trees and bushes. I even had a good crop of blueberries this year! It is a commitment working an allotment and it does take a couple of days a week or a few evenings in the summer, but the rewards are immense. There is nothing like eating veg you took out the ground that day for your dinner. Being outdoors and getting exercise working the plot also gives further health benefits. I believe very strongly in this lifestyle and would encourage all city-dwellers to have a go at growing their own veg or fruit in their garden, or pots if they have a back yard. One Green World will continue to work with and support as many food growing projects across the North West as it can, from proposal and design through to helping build up a site and deliver infrastructure. I don’t know what the future is for the proposal I have been working on this month. It may be that this particular site is not used, but the ideas will grow and in the future, a beautiful project will come from the seeds we have sown.
As we have all enjoyed a fantastically hot July, I have been working in the glasshouses at the Horticultural Centre in Wythenshawe Park, for as much time as I could stand in the heat. I mentioned in February this year, when I installed the rustic entrance-ways, that a planting scheme would be approved and funded by the society. I began this work in June, having a fun day out with some of the lovely people from the society, choosing and buying some of the plants. It took an awful lot of preparatory work, clearing roots and weeds before I could plant any of the new stock. I was fortunate enough to have some willing volunteers, Sarah and Chris’s team, helping with weeding, cutting back and clearing, in order to complete the planting project. I planted ground cover plants like Calathea and beautiful flowering plants like Arum lilies, as well as some of the bigger, slower growing plants such as Dicksonia Antartica and Cycas Revoluta. I had fantastic help from Mack and Chris, who helped with the planting and clearing for four days. It was challenging planting the Bromeliads, which I set in vertical columns of cork, woodchip and compost. I chose Jasmine and grapevines for the new entrances I fitted earlier in the year, to allow them to grow around them and compliment the rustic feel. It has been a great contract, and although it has been difficult at times I have enjoyed it. I am looking forward to seeing the plants grow and the impact they will have on the centre. Finally I would just like to say a great big thanks to Mary for all the cups of tea – top one girl you’re a star! Another contract I have been working on this month was for a lovely lady called Beryl, who asked me to turn her high maintenance front garden into a low maintenance front garden (see gallery for before and after photo’s). I was kind of sad to do this job as her front garden was lovely but I could understand the need for a much simpler garden. I found a good home for many of the plants that were removed and was careful to recycle the stone and blocks. A big thanks to Beryl for the steady flow of drinks as it was a bit hot for all that digging. The job was going lovely, too good even, so what do you know, the van broke down, and it took the best part of three days to get it working again, but I still managed to finish the job in a week. I also gave a very large hedge a hair cut for the Lord of the Verges and ensured his hedge was not infringing on the public footpath for us lesser mortals. Rather good, what!
I have been running around working on all the projects I told you about in May, delivering some of them to completion. I have completely failed in my efforts to sit around on my bum in my workshop, and sun myself, whilst being a woodcarver. This makes me even more determined to do it this month. It is so exciting running my own business and I am committed to One Green World continuing. I have planted new plants into the Horticultural Centre in Wythenshawe Park and that is as satisfying task as any, and this particular contract will soon be completed. Wythenshawe Park is one of my favourite parks in the city and some of the people who work there are wholly undervalued for their dedication, vision, and determination. Bring on July, the height of the summer, a nice deckchair, some chisels and a lovely piece of wood. I am off to see the Lord of the Hedges this month. Now there is a fabulous character. It looks as if I am about to become the head groundsman for this particular crazy version of the landed gentry! See you next month. Ian
May has been a quiet month for One Green World. This has given me the opportunity to concentrate on my allotment and have a well deserved holiday in Wales. I have not been idle though and have continued to receive requests for quotes and fund raising support from friends and community groups. The Horticultural Friends Society are continuing with their commitment to The Horticultural Centre in Wythenshawe Park, and with their support I am drawing up new ideas for the entrance ways in the Jungle Walk and Gardens of the World. The construction will include large pieces of Scots Pine, sourced on site from wind blown timber, and will follow the theme of the wooden entrances I installed in the centre earlier in the year. These new entrance ways will be welcoming and enhance the centre's beautiful collection of plants. I have been helping the Friends of Highfield Country Park to apply for funds to establish forest school workshops in the park. The forest school sessions will run hand in hand with environmental conservation to improve the park. This project is in collaboration with Jane Doyle, a Level 3 qualified Forest School practitioner, who works in the Greater Manchester area. The Friends of Highfield Country Park have also asked me to design and quote for an ambitious project - to create a pond and dipping platform that would be fed from the brook that runs through the park. This work would include a bridge to span the brook and repair to the existing weir. I was very pleased to be asked to quote for this work and fully support renovating and improving the site, as I think Highfield Country Park is one of Manchester's hidden gems. The dipping platform would be utilised by local school children and community groups and raise awareness of the biodiversity in the park. I have also been asked to quote for hard landscaping at Fletcher Moss Gardens to improve access around the horticultural gardens and also to re-vamp the waterfall pond system. I have been working on a few private contracts involving re-developing and landscaping gardens. My main aim for June 2014 is to concentrate on my creative work and spend time at my workshop, designing and forming ideas using wood. I have a story tellers chair that still needs carvings adding and bolting together. I am looking forward to some lovely English sun and losing myself in creation. Ian McDougall
I was back in Wythenshawe Park Horticultural Centre to replace entrance doors at either end of the Safari Walk. The Horticultural Friends group wanted to ensure easy access to the centre so we opted for sliding doors and I had a vision for wooden fret work decorating the doors and reflecting the beauty of the flora in the glasshouses. This job proved to be frustrating when it came to getting hold of certain materials and the job start dates came and went. Finally we received our near mythical products and began assembling the sliding units in a fashion Bob and I were keen on becoming familiar with, only to discover that the special stuff was in fact the wrong size. Undeterred but several quids and a trip to a timber yard later we were busy boys building some rather good looking entrances. Loving this job we ended up doing much more than we were contracted for but were happy to give the extra time and effort as we both care about the centre's future development. It was great working back in the glasshouses. Seeing it improve nurtures further ideas and enthusiasm. With this in mind Bob and I were sat during one lunch break building a dream of a wooden long room leading into The Safari Walk through our new entrances, as well as a total remake of the Fernery, which is badly in need of some tender loving care (we thought we better leave that one for later). Indeed, the staff are full of ideas about fantastical new entrances into the Jungle Walk and Gardens of the World. I am looking forward to meeting the artist who is going to paint the walls around the new sliding doors and when the work is complete I shall post some pictures. To see photo's of the doors now go to my Media Gallery. Thanks to The Horticultural Friends for making these improvements possible and look forward to being further involved in this fantastic facility. Ian
My friend Gordon has completed a sponsored walk in aid of Crohn's and Colitis UK. He has successfully completed the coast to coast walk from St Bees to Robin's Hood Bay. Gordon works with young people in the Wythenshawe area for Nacro, a crime reduction charity and One Green World was more than happy to donate at Just Giving. Below, Gordon describes his epic adventure.
Well, that was quite a walk. A bit harder than I expected I have to admit! 190 plus miles (extra cos I made a few navigation errors in the mist). It started in St Bees on the west coast where I collected the obligatory pebble from the sea and 12 days later I had great pleasure slinging it into the sea on the east coast at Robin Hoods Bay. The weather was awful on days 2 to 4 after which it gradually improved until the last 3 days when I might have been in Spain with clear blues and no wind. By day 11 I could see the sea at Whitby 25 miles away. Blisters were the main problem. Having walked 9 or 10 hours a day in persistent rain, despite wearing gaiters and waterproofs, my feet became soaked and inevitably both feet blistered. My boots were just about dry by day 9 and the blisters were just becoming bearable by then. As the season for doing this walk hadn't really started I had no problem with accommodation. In fact, generally, I had the 3 National Parks to myself pretty much. However I was not lonely, as I was supported by friends who came up to walk some of the way with me at different stages. Quite honestly I'm not sure that I would have carried on if not for them. Would I do it again - oh yes! Had someone asked me in the first half it would have been a resounding - NO! Any way thanks to those who sponsored me.
We headed up the M55 thinking how lucky we were to be by the sea for three days in the sun building little green roofs for the kids to grow and eat their own food. We decided to base our construction on a strong internal framework to take the extra weight of the roof and felt confident that our build was strong enough for the job. As much as possible we bought all the materials from local businesses and stayed in Blackpool to cut down on travel during construction. We had a great day working with the guys from Red Rose Forest and volunteer parents filling and planting up the roofs with a variety of annual and perennial food producing plants. I loved our time in Blackpool. It was great working as I so often do, with Tim of 'Little Green Builders' and we had a fun time with the kids in the pre-school nursery, to whom my companion was Bob the Builder and I was his mate Sam. Properly dressed in their builders hard hats, the kids were our safety advisors, constantly reminding us to be careful. I am happy to say our safety record on this job was spotless. Thanks kids. These green roofs in Thames Primary School are part of a food growing project for the school in conjunction with the shrub bed clearance I completed earlier in the year. That shrub bed has been planted with fruit trees by Red Rose Forest and the school children at Thames Primary School.
The two new entrance ways to connect the two main public display houses in the Horticultural Centre in Wythenshawe Park are nearly complete. The timber was all sourced on site so the job has a low impact and sustainable footprint. It is nice to be playing an active part in improving the historical centre. It was a challenge putting up the big timbers around the entrance-way. It is going to be exciting and satisfying to see it all completed in the next few days. There is a new planting scheme planned for the area around the new entrance-ways once the weather warms up. Look out for photo's in the future.
Just completed my first job of 2014, building and installing 4 x metre cubed composting bays for the Friends of Marie Louise Gardens in South Manchester. These bays are constructed almost entirely from second hand recycled materials. The construction is solidly built so as to withstand park life and Manchester weather and the size ensures they will hold lots of lovely leaf mould for the friends group to use in the park. I have great satisfaction from completing this job and initial feedback suggests a very happy customer. To view the composting bays go to my gallery. If you want any advice on any installations for your green open space just contact me through the website.