March 2014: Paint The Town Green!

I’ve noticed over the past 18 months that a quiet evolution has been taking place around Cirencester. It’s been on the streets, it’s been on unloved waste ground, it’s been at the Farmers Market, it’s been on roundabouts and traffic islands, and it’s been on allotments and in people’s gardens too. Oh, and there’s the Abbey Grounds, St Michael’s Park, Four Acres Field and Thistle Park too.
Slowly but surely the endeavours of Cirencester’s green fingered community are beginning to get results. The most obvious development is the small army of plant containers slowly multiplying and radiating from the town centre, all done by volunteers. The containers are appearing so stealthily that you may not have noticed them growing, in just the same way a tree or shrub grows so slowly that our perception never really acknowledges its development. There’s more plant containers on the way, look out for them around town.

Or have you been to Querns Wood lately? Go if you haven’t been. Volunteers have helped to create a new pathway, planted a semi-mature tree and sections of hedging. The work carried out by the volunteers has completed the circular walk through the woods; it could really add extra value to your next visit to the Amphitheatre.
Then there’s the Whereat Trail which will mark the route from Cirencester’s Corinium Museum to the Amphitheatre as well as increased interpretation at the Amphitheatre itself. Promotion of the trail starts in Spring this year. Gloucestershire County Highways, English Heritage and the Corinium Museum are supporting the Town Council to deliver this project.
Or what about Cirencester’s first ever plant swap that took place in the Farmers Market last year? All organised by volunteers including staff from Cirencester College who gave their time free of charge. There will again be a plant swap in Cirencester, probably at the last Farmers Market in May. It was a big success last year with lots of plants brought for swap or donation. The range of plants was vast from lots of vegetable plants (which were amazingly popular) to two very large viburnums, which have since been planted in St Michaels Park. The plant swap encourages you to save any surplus plants or indeed to grow extra plants and bring them to the stall at the Farmers Market. The principle is to barter wherever possible so it is a free way of increasing your stock of plants, but where swaps are of an unequal value then people are invited to make a donation. Any monies raised this year will go towards increasing the planting in the Town centre.

Some of the Towns roundabouts and traffic islands are benefiting from some tlc too. There’s been no fanfare or heavily promoted reveal, just a steady improvement that imperceptibly enriches the everyday lives of those who pass by. It’s often the case that we only notice something when it looks bad or wrong.

If you saw any of the private gardens that opened for last years’ Cirencester Open Gardens event you’ll be glad to know it will be back again in the summer. It’s premise is very simple but very effective. You can open your garden to the public; it would be for three hours one Sunday afternoon over the summer, so not an arduous task and one which might encourage you to carry out all those ideas and jobs you continually promise yourself you will definitely get around to one day. Or why not just be a visitor this year and as well as getting lots of great garden ideas why not talk to the owners about the Open Gardens scheme? It’s all organised by volunteers, there is a very modest entry fee which goes to a local charity and you can often get a cream tea too. Barton Lane allotments opened up for last year’s event and visitors bought fresh produce direct from the allotment plots, all proceeds went to charity. They will be doing it again this year, contact Meg Blumsom at or on 01285 657696 for more detailed information about the Open Garden scheme.
In 2013 the people of Cirencester showed how much we love our parks during the annual Love Parks Week. Over 1,000 people celebrated at events held during the Love Parks Week that took place across our public green spaces. Events and activities happened in the Abbey Grounds, St Michael’s Park, Four Acres Field and Thistle Park. The most popular activities included pond dipping and a mosaic workshop in the Abbey Grounds, a community BBQ at Four Acres Fields organised by the Friends of Amphitheatre/Bullring (FAB), storytelling in St Michael’s Park and the Chesterton Community Fete. Keep an eye out on the Cirencester Town Council website or drop into the information centre in Bingham House, 1 Dyer Street, for details of the 2014 Love Parks Week.