Pride in Redbridge: Wanstead’s guerilla gardeners give back with pop-up plots

Peta Jarmey planting in Wanstead

Peta Jarmey planting in Wanstead - Credit: Archant

A gardeners’ group hoping to inspire others in the borough has been transforming “sad” plots of public land.

Wanstead Community Gardeners was set up two years ago after its founder Marian Temple decided to do something about litter-filled pockets of unloved soil.

The project was inspired by a community clean-up of Age Concern’s “iconic” Cornerhouse front garden in High Street, Wanstead, in 2003.

Marian has been getting people together to de-weed and plant flowers in the area ever since.

“We had a lot of new patches around the station to do and we have taken over more and more of what I call sad pieces of public soil,” she said.

“Wanstead is a brilliant place to live so why not give something back? People just loved the idea and wanted to be involved rather than leave everything to the council.

“This is where you live, why not do something about it?”

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The gardeners’ only requirement is that the patches of land are in need of help and placed somewhere where at least 100 people walk past.

Donations from residents and florists’ “walking wounded” make up much of what the group plants.

The Recorder joined the group on Sunday while Marian prepared a flower bed at the front of the car park in Grove Park, which will be watered with rainwater by a family nearby.

“In a couple of months’ time it will look fantastic,” said Marian, who has lived in Wanstead all her life.

“It’s a really nice community thing, it’s not just about planting plants – it’s about giving people ownership of their high street.”

The gardener called on others in the borough to do the same in their areas.

“What’s really satisfying is when you take a sad piece of public soil and you turn it into something beautiful,” she added.

“There’s not many things you can do that really make a difference, but this is one of them.”

Marian is open to helping groups around the borough set up. Email to get in touch with her.

Find out more about the Recorder’s Pride in Redbridge campaign here.