VOLUNTEER gardeners have vowed to continue their award-winning work to improve Bognor Regis town centre.
The Bognor Community Gardeners struck gold with the Royal Horticultural Society’s south east in bloom contest for their efforts in the Sunken Garden, as reported.
The garden is set to be replaced by landowner Arun District Council with its linear park scheme, which includes flats and a shop and a potential new health centre. But the gardeners’ founder, Kim Davis, said the group would carry on with its frequent tasks to ensure the garden stayed looking good.
“It’s business as usual for us here because the regeneration is all up in the air about what is going to happen to this place. It definitely needs a makeover because it has got a bit tired looking but there is no need to spend £4m.
“I’m pleased that Arun are going to set up some focus groups about this site and we are hoping to be invited on to one of them. Having done this work since 2011, we know these gardens quite well and I believe we have got some valuable ideas we could give.”
She said the group believed the gardens, between the Hothamton car park and West Street, could have a bright future as a community hub.
“It would be good to have some log cabins installed for community groups to occupy. That would change the dynamics of the people who come here.
“It’s unfortunate but this park does have a certain reputation. The behaviour has actually improved but the reputation hasn’t,” she said.
“But some log cabins for activities like furniture restoration and a café would attract people back here,” she said. “I don’t think a sterile linear park will do that.”
The efforts of some 30 community gardeners, who help out in the Sunken Garden for a varying number of hours a week, helped to win the gold award.
They also gained an outstanding rating in the RHS’s category for community work and secured an RHS certificate of distinction.
“It’s good to get the recognition,” said Kim. “We knew we had done well but we were delighted to get gold and the distinction.”
The work which saw them rated so highly includes planting, weeding and watering. Among the species planted are geraniums, apple trees and fruit bushes.
A herb border with varieties like garlic, chives, sage and oregano has also been created.
One of the group’s members, Bob Jackson, helps out for a day a week on average with any bricklaying and carpentry needed.
He said: “This site is fantastic when you think about it. It’s great. Kids can play in here safely. There is no danger to them.
“I can’t understand why the council wants to get rid of it – but a water supply is essential.”
The gardeners have also been helped by Doug Parrish, of Dizzy Lizzy’s garden equipment repair company.
He spent some £400 on a mobility scooter and adaptions needed to create a trailer which can transport up to 60 litres of water. Before, it had to be carried in batches of 10-15 litres.
The gardeners have branched out to look after other sites. They include the Regis Centre and the planters outside Morrisons and the nearby footpath.