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A little patch of paradise just off busy Grapes Hill in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 07:09 28 July 2017

The Parent and Children Social Hour group enjoying Grapes Hill Community Garden. Zack Lincoln, left, and Sebastian Renwick, both three, with the wild flower garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Parent and Children Social Hour group enjoying Grapes Hill Community Garden. Zack Lincoln, left, and Sebastian Renwick, both three, with the wild flower garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

The Grapes Hill Community Garden is a playground for toddlers, an open-air classroom for new gardeners and a haven for all-comers

The Parent and Children Social Hour group enjoying Grapes Hill Community Garden. Outreach officer, Ellen Mary, picks gooseberries with three-year-olds, from left, Sonny Hale, Sebastian Renwick, and Zack Lincoln. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY The Parent and Children Social Hour group enjoying Grapes Hill Community Garden. Outreach officer, Ellen Mary, picks gooseberries with three-year-olds, from left, Sonny Hale, Sebastian Renwick, and Zack Lincoln. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

From toddlers to pensioners, and from gardening gurus to beginners who barely know a tap root from topiary, everyone is welcome.

A community garden has been conjured from a patch of disused tarmac and today is a lush paradise of flowers and fruit trees, a circular lawn fringed by vibrant beds and borders,

paved sections shaded by climbers, a striking wooden water feature, carved tree trunk benches, berry-laden bushes and help-yourself herbs.

Just metres from Norwich’s busy inner road, backing on to the back yards of a row of houses, and with hundreds of flats just uphill and the city centre close by, visitors to Grapes Hill Community Garden are breathing in the scent of blossom rather than fumes and hearing birdsong over the background hum of traffic.

There is a mini orchard with apple, pear, quince, fig and cherry trees. There are woodland wildflowers in spring, a riot of meadow flowers in summer, and a harvest of berries and fruit.

There is even a banana tree and fittingly, for Grapes Hill, a vine clambers across a pergola.

This summer a series of new events and groups has been launched to encourage more people to discover the delights of this remarkable place.

Visitors can pick a few herbs, or a piece of ripe fruit, as long as they take just a small amount and leave plenty for other people, and do not take anything from the nine raised beds which are rented out to people living nearby.

They can also visit simply to soak up the atmosphere, picnic or read the paper.

A weekly parent and toddler meet-up morning has been so successful that more sessions are being planned for the autumn and a beginners’ gardening course is running at the moment. Workshops on upcycling and encouraging wildlife will take place in the garden in August, a celebration day with stalls and music is planned for September and a Halloween event will include pumpkin carving, apple bobbing and storytelling.

There are also regular volunteering sessions for visitors who are inspired to help out. All are welcome to meet neighbours, make friends and learn or share gardening skills with the next Garden Tasks session on Sunday, August 27, 2-4pm. Tea, tools and cake provided.

The garden is run by the Grapes Hill Community Garden Group and looked after by volunteer gardeners, plus a part time gardener and outreach worker, funded by lottery money.

In the six years since the garden was planted it has bloomed into a hidden wonderland – and those in the know want to share the joy.

The Grapes Hill Community Garden is open daily, for free, from 9am. It closes at 8pm through the summer.

To find out more about visiting, volunteering, events and courses, including an upcycling workshop on August 5, and introduction to gardening for wildlife, on August 12, visit www.grapeshillcommunitygarden.org

Other community gardens in Norfolk include:

The Fifth Quarter, Parmentergate Court, Norwich – an edible gardening plot and a community composting project focusing on promoting social cohesion and community involvement in the city centre.

Thetford’s Forgotten Garden – an old walled garden in the grounds of Ford Place Nursing Home is managed by volunteers as an organic wildlife garden with a small heritage orchard, pond and beehives.

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