An update from Sara Messenger of the Bradley Stoke in Bloom group.
As 2018 draws to a close, we look back at what we’ve achieved this year and although we didn’t get done all I had hoped to, we have, for such a small group, achieved quite a bit! High points were winning the Bees Needs’ award (for The Common East), our giant carrots at Rabbit Roundabout, the Primrose Bridge steps (see photo, below) and judging the fabulous gardens that were entered for our ever-expanding Best Front Garden competition. But there have been many low points – vandalism and graffiti lowers the morale of the group, our inability to reconnect with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and their ‘In your Neighbourhood’ scheme and the lack of communication and support from South Gloucestershire Council (SGC), to name but a few.
The Bees Needs’ award has placed a spotlight on our work and the lack of any agreement with SGC. We have recently had a meeting with one of their officers and I am trying very hard to view our discussions in a positive light, in the hope of finally securing a positive working relationship with them, although I have yet to be convinced that this can be achieved. They seem terribly keen to ‘manage’ the group, which is great if you want compliance, but if you want engagement and creativity then self direction works better. We did in the beginning try very hard to agree a direction with SGC, but with every request being met with either a refusal or silence, we chose to do what I’m told every other ‘in Bloom’ group does, and just get on with it. ‘Better to seek forgiveness than permission’ has been suggested as a new strap line!
We are funded by Bradley Stoke Town Council, who seem to trust the knowledge and judgement of their volunteers. They understand that too many rules prevent innovation and originality and destroy the intrinsic motivation of people who volunteer because they enjoy it, find it interesting and want to be part of something that is important, both to themselves and to their community. But others seem reluctant to agree to anything, thinking they are insuring against disaster, but what they’re ensuring is mediocrity. Too many petty rules and we lose our spirit. Hopefully, they will listen to us this time as, ironically for an ‘in Bloom’ group, we do not have an infinite supply of olive branches!
And on that positive note, we really need more volunteers! I would like to see our website given an overhaul (not something I can do) and we really need more help on our workdays. You don’t need to have much experience or a great knowledge of gardening (green side up, brown side down covers most of it), but you will need working boots, a smile, an ability to eat vast amounts of biscuits and a desire to see our little town bloom! Make 2019 your year to grow, not just greenery for your town but for you to grow as a member of this community!
How to contact Bradley Stoke in Bloom:
Photo: Rainbow steps at Primrose Bridge (near Wheatfield School).
This article originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 27). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.