The four shared back gardens at Fireside Housing Co-operative needed to fit the needs of the adults and children that lived there, so a safe yet exciting space for children to play, space for adults to entertain and also to grow some fruit and vegetables. The garden had to be wildlife friendly and sustainable to fit with the ethos of the Co-op. Using reclaimed materials was highly desirable.
The design incorporated a lawn big enough to hold tables and chairs for outside shared meals or a large marquee for events. This was laid flush with a stone edging for ease of mowing. The wildflower meadow area was included for biodiversity and visual appeal, whilst only needing occasional weeding and an annual cut back. Paths meander around the garden, leading to hidden ‘rooms’ such as the soft fruit area or the wildlife ponds. The dense planting aims for maximum ground cover to minimise weeding. The apple fence provides a fruitful boundary with the neighbouring garden, whilst not taking up much space. The bricks from the demolished garden walls that divided the gardens were used to build the paths and reclaimed paving slabs, old kitchen floor tiles and leftover block pavers were used for a patchwork patio that extends across the backs of the houses.
Meeting the differing and sometimes conflicting needs and desires of all the tenants was a challenge. They had a limited budget and limited time to maintain the garden.
The garden is always exclaimed about by visitors and is home to lots of wildlife. It is an excellent space for games of hide and seek, and also for adults to find a solitary spot. The bike wheel dome was added as an arbour that just fits a bench inside.
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