Connect people and community in the streets

In 2016, I began planting out the verge in front of my house.

At the time my motivation was simple. I enjoy gardening but dislike mowing – especially that wasteland outside the front fence.

Spending time on the verge doing slow gardening tasks like weeding or dead-heading means you have more time to notice things around you than when you are mowing, and much more time than when driving. The space becomes a place for being in, not just for walking through, or driving by.

It also becomes a place for meeting. Neighbours and passersby would be curious about this odd person digging up the grass and planting things other than grass. Sometimes they’d stop and ask questions and chat. I met more people in my neighbourhood than I had in the many years since we moved to this neighbourhood.

A year on, I found a hand-made card in the letterbox.

This added another aspect: the effect on people you may not even see as they go about their daily lives.

This wasn’t a garden that would win any awards but it had become enough to make a difference to someone’s day.

This is when I realised how significant these neglected pieces of land were. It was time to get serious. The Shady Lanes Project was born.