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Norwich’s Grapes Hill Community Garden officially opens

PUBLISHED: 21:01 07 August 2011 | UPDATED: 21:42 07 August 2011

The official opening of Grapes Hill Community Garden where local gardening expert Will Giles cut the ribbon at the gates of the garden oasis on the doorstep of Norwich city centre.Photo :Steve Adams

The official opening of Grapes Hill Community Garden where local gardening expert Will Giles cut the ribbon at the gates of the garden oasis on the doorstep of Norwich city centre.Photo :Steve Adams

Archant 2010

A Norwich community celebrated in style as a garden aimed at encouraging residents to get their fingers green was officially opened.

Volunteers have worked tirelessly to transform the Grapes Hill Community Garden form a derelict area of tarmac into somewhere people could enjoy.

Work on the actual site started less than a year ago and volunteers from the Grapes Hill Community Garden Group but not the garden has been transformed into an urban oasis filled with 200 species of flora and fauna from fruit trees, to vegetables, perennials, flowers and herbs.

Garden expert Will Giles, who created the well-known exotic garden on Thorpe Road, cut the ribbon to mark the official opening ceremony today (Sunday), while there was also music from the Hellesdon and Sprowston Brass Band; food and a bar supplied by The Green Grocers store in Earlham Road; and ice-creams from city-based vendor Ronaldo’s.

Youngsters could also enjoy face-painting and a garden competition.

Also making an appearance was former Blur drummer Dave Rowntree, a frequent visitor to the city, who is also an avid gardener.

Fran Ellington, secretary of the Grapes Hill Community Garden Group, said the opening ceremony was the realisation of a long-held dream to create something special for the community.

“It’s got its own magic,” she said. “We want to attract people who have no access to a garden. We really wanted to draw our neighbours in and say this is for you. It’s a beautiful space and we want people to come and see it. It’s not an exclusive club, it’s really for people to come and use.”

Residents will be able to sign up to take on a raised bed garden for a small yearly charge, where they can grow their own fruit and vegetables.

Jane Sayers, 59, who lives in nearby Paragon Place, has already signed up to take on one of the raised beds.

“It’s absolutely wonderful,” she said. “We have got cabbages, peppers as well as oregano, coriander and basil. There is also some parsnips in there. I come here most evenings. I just like to sit here as it’s so peaceful.”

Mr Giles said he was impressed by the way the garden had been transformed.

“It’s fantastic to see these amazing plants and vegetables right here in the middle of Norwich,” he said. “It’s going to be a wonderful community base for all of you and I hope you enjoy it for years to come.”

Mr Rowntree said: “It has real resonance for me. It’s a garden for people without a garden and it’s brilliant to see people coming together on community projects such as this.”

Around £50,000 of funding have been made available through a Big Lottery Community Spaces/Groundwork grant, while the Greater Norwich Development Partnership also contributed around £20,000.

Marya Parker, from the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Everybody who visits this now can see what a fantastic community facility this is. What is really impressive in this community is way people behind this project worked so hard and showed such imagination to achieve this.”

The garden, which is owned by Norwich City Council but leased by the group, can be found just off Grapes Hill, tucked between Dereham Road, Valentine Street and Golding Place. It is open every day but locked at night,

It will continue to be looked after by the Grapes Hill Community Garden Group and there will be gardening tasks every fortnight during the summer on Thursday evenings from 6pm to 8pm. All are welcome regardless of gardening experience.

For more information about the garden, go to www.grapeshillcommunitygarden.org

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