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This was our first install after lockdown, so it brought with it all the challenges of safe working practices under C-19 conditions.

To our usual order list of timber, soil and plants were added face masks, visors and alcohol gel. The whole process added an unpleasant extra level to proceedings, and we were very nervous about involving the community in the planting; but at the same time we knew what a tonic it could be to bring people together in their shared spaces to collaborate. We certainly loved getting back to some sort of business as usual, ordering in tons of compost to enrich the soil and hundreds of British-grown plants.

Another impact from C-19 we noticed was that all our suppliers’ lead times were much longer, and there were some things we could not get at all. The site itself had its own challenges, since part of it is turf laid down over an underground carpark, meaning the soil was rock solid and very thin. We deliberately chose plants that could handle the shallow rooting and dry conditions such as Phormiums.

We collaborated with our long term partner at Action Now, to build the hammocks, bench and play structures. As we were doing the installation, lots of residents came out to investigate, and many of them got involved with the planting. Since then, we helped to establish a residents’ watering rota, to ensure the plants settle in well in their first year. The building caretaker has helped to spearhead this collaborative effort.

mursell planting volunteer lambeth urban growth garden

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