Community Grant boosts garden restoration projects

A brick circular arch with white painted walls and a path running through the centre, with pink flowered bush in the foreground.

The Friends of Brunswick Square and Dawber Garden Community Trust were the 2023 recipients of a Gardens Trust Community Grant, made possible by generous donations from Peter and Rosy Gent. The grants have been helping volunteers to restore their important and much-loved community spaces and here we share updates from their projects.

Friends of Brunswick Square & Terrace

We’re a gardening group hoping to restore Brunswick Square to its Regency glory and engender an increased sense of community spirit and engagement with residents. It is a peaceful public garden in this densely populated area, where most residents live in flats.  Completed around 1830, it is in a Grade I-listed conservation area designed by the architect Charles Busby with Amos Wilds. Originally the square was laid out with railings, stone pavements, flower beds and trees to provide a suitable setting for the elegant town houses around it. After WWII the square became run down and neglected, but since then the gardens have been re-landscaped and the pavements replaced using the same Caithness stone flags.

We have researched the designs and flowers, trees and shrubs that would have been here 200 years ago. We have had advice, tours and help from the Brighton Pavilion gardeners, whose knowledge has been invaluable, and have plans from elderly neighbours who successfully reinstated features in the square. We are also working with Southern Water and the council to restore the historic drinking fountain as a water source. At the moment, we are conducting a plant audit and comparing it to plans from 1992, so we can maintain the existing planting as well as planting new Regency varieties.

A large group of volunteers sitting and standing on grass, backed by regency residential houses.
An enthusiastic team of volunteers have been transforming Brunswick Square. Courtesy of the Friends of Brunswick Square & Terrace

The involvement of the whole community in the project over the last year has been amazing. It is bringing mental, physical and social benefits to the volunteers who come every Saturday, as well as to visitors. We have achieved so much and are proud of our efforts, which are helping to reduce problems with anti-social behaviour. This winter we already been able to prune and cut back the overgrown hedges and trees thanks to the new tools we were able to purchase with the Garden Trust Community Grant. Our newly-planted daffodils and crocuses are now coming up on the edges of the wild meadow area. We are very grateful to the Gardens Trust for helping us to achieve this, and look forward to sharing our progress.

Dawber Garden Community Trust

The Dawber Garden became a public garden in the late 1980’s, in an area that had been the walled vegetable garden of the Lawn Hospital and then used for council greenhouses. Over the last few years, the garden had become almost derelict due to council funding cuts, with little maintenance from contractors, apart from a ‘short back and sides’ to some shrubs.

Early in 2023 volunteers started restoration work and in just over a year, have transformed a neglected and overgrown ornamental walled garden in uphill Lincoln into a verdant paradise alive with birdsong.

A garden pond surrounded with greenery and tall purple alliums in the foreground.
A garden pond transformed. Courtesy of the Dawber Garden Community Trust.

Restoration highlights include completely renewing the pond with a new liner and stone edging, laying new paths, removing ivy from flower beds and structures, replacing the box  parterre with Lonicera nitada and re-shaping and pruning mature shrubs to provide form and encourage flowering. Hundreds of daffodil and tulip bulbs have been planted for a welcome burst of colour in Spring, followed by swathes of purple alliums around the pond for a dramatic display throughout May. The Chinese Garden, located through two moon arches, has undergone a major overhaul with old overgrown shrubs replaced with new planting for a more coherent look and feel.

Lynn Ritson, Chair of the Dawber Garden Community Trust, said: “The transformation of the garden in the space of a little over a year is remarkable but we could not have achieved it without our volunteers and supporters.

“We set out to rescue the garden so that the public could continue to enjoy it, both now and for generations to come.

“We have reached the stage where we are maintaining rather than restoring the garden, but the work continues. We are looking at creating a living willow tunnel leading to the mound where children like to hide in the trees.”

As the Garden is open every day to the public the work is much appreciated by our many visitors, who tell our volunteers they cannot believe the transformation, thanks to the Gardens Trust.

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Painswick Roccoco Gardens, the Red House, Photo © Joab Smith