MHA Aigburth garden visit

Years of hard work from the local community has helped reinvigorate the garden.

MHA residential care home, Aigburth in Leicester was recently paid a special visit by an assessor from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), after its garden project was put forward for the charity’s ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ scheme.

The assessment is a real team effort thanks to local volunteers, the wider community and the care home’s residents and relatives, who have transformed the garden over the last three years.

The care home has been working with Oadby and Wigston’s ‘Pride of the Borough’ Britain in Bloom group. Volunteers kick-started the transformation in spring 2018, with a day of action from students and staff at the nearby University of Leicester halls of residence to plant two new flower beds.

Volunteers from the local community now manage the garden’s extensive grounds on a regular basis, with two- to three-hour sessions on most days of the week. They have ensured a wide variety of plants for wildlife, including shrubs, roses, fruit trees and wildflowers.

The volunteers are also helped by residents, relatives and friends of the care home. The residents attend a weekly Gardening Club, while relatives and volunteers regularly work on the garden, donate plants and raise money for new garden essentials.

Several local businesses have supported the project too – Waitrose staff created two flower beds and Asda staff helped weed the terracing. Additionally, a local artist painted butterfly murals, and a knitting group yarn bombed, to disguise blank fences.

Marilyn Bowles, who heads up the MHA Aigburth Gardening Club, said: “The garden had suffered from years of neglect as no one was available to work on it regularly. We decided to remedy that situation – and since then the changes have been remarkable.

“The variety of plants we now have growing and flowering makes walks around the gardens and views from the residents’ rooms much more interesting. There’s something for everyone to enjoy – including sensory plants to give pleasure to those residents living with visual impairment or dementia.’’

Salome Mapfeka, Home Manager at MHA Aigburth, said: “This assessment from the RHS is an acknowledgement of the hard work in making the garden successful. We’ve encouraged anyone who shows an interest to get involved in maintaining and enjoying the garden.

“We can’t thank everyone enough for making our gardens look so fantastic all year round.”

The RHS’s ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ is a unique scheme for volunteer-led community gardening projects or groups that are focused on improving the local environment through community gardening.

There are three main areas on which the project at MHA Aigburth will be assessed as part of the RHS’s criteria – community participation, environmental responsibility and gardening achievement. 

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