After setting up a bench outside the Ham Library, HUG members agreed that, in the absence of a community centre or village hall, the library clearly functions as the centre of the local community. However, its garden was barren and forlorn. We proposed creating a Bird and Butterfly Garden that would not only benefit wildlife but would also be a haven for local residents. In 2007, we raised a grant from Awards for All - Big Lottery Fund to cover the costs, and with the help of local volunteers, both young and old, Richmond Housing Partnership, Mears, and Scion the area was transformed into the award winning garden you now see.
Between winter 2007 and late spring 2008 HUG and a number of local young people created two new flowerbeds from the existing three already in the garden. A list of suitable plants was devised, including as many native species as possible. We planted the smaller, round bed with herbs and the larger, kidney-shaped bed with a selection of plants which attract butterflies and bees. Activities were held in the Library to raise awareness amongst the local community. In July 2008, the garden received an Award of Merit in the Neighbourhood Awards category of ‘London in Bloom.' In 2009, the Library site was identified as having once formed part of the original Ham Farm Orchard. With this in mind, HUG decided to plant a mini orchard within the Library Garden with a variety of apple trees, three of which are native to Surrey.
In autumn 2008, bird boxes were hung in the garden. Keen to recycle rainwater for watering the plants, HUG also installed a water butt with a child safety lid.
A stag beetle loggery has been installed to provide a suitable habitat for female stag beetles to lay eggs which hatch after three weeks into tiny worm-like larvae. These can stay deep underground, feeding on dead wood, for up to seven years before they change into adult beetles.
The garden is constantly developing and always interesting. It is host to a wide range of plants, including wild meadow flowers, and insects. It is also widely enjoyed by the community. Members of the Ham and Petersham Association kindly donated a round tree seat, providing additional seating to meet with friends or read a book in the shade.
In 2014, the garden had matured so well, was so well used and loved, that it drew attention to the very dreary part along the Ham Street frontage. We held a competition to design a garden for that area. It was was in deep shade, with alkaline clay so it presented a real challenge. Geoff Hyde judged the entries and our local MP presented the prize for the winning design to Zoe Varnava. We spent a year raising funds from Community First and from Richmond Council’s Civic Pride Fund as well as contributions from Ham Amenities Group and the Palm Centre.
The garden was installed on 3 workdays by more than 30 volunteers.
Join Jean for a video tour of the garden!