Linslade Memorial Gardens are enclosed behind a hedge on the south-west corner of Mentmore Road playing fields (also called Mentmore Park, although this has been know to cause confusion with the neighbouring village of Mentmore!). The gardens were started in the late 1940s when Linslade war memorial had to be moved from its original site (more details here). Originally the gardens consisted mainly of lawns, with paved paths lined with narrow flower borders filled with bedding plants – very beautiful, but very labour-intensive. During the 1980s the flower beds were turfed over.
In November 2013 Leighton Linslade Town Council gave a local resident, Dawn Love, permission to create a permaculture garden that also reflected the theme of remembrance in the northern ‘arm’ of the gardens. The turf was dug out by members of South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth with the help of other local residents, allotment-holders from the Wyngates allotments, and volunteers from Spencer Rail, who were building the lifts at the station at the time. The work started in December 2013 and was complete by April 2014.
Cutting the first beds.
Volunteers from Spencer Rail and South Beds Friends of the Earth.
Getting there – March 2014!
Other people who helped considerably were the neighbouring preschool, Mentmore Road Under Fives, who still plant vegetables and flowers and particularly like digging the earth on their own bed. We also had very welcome support from local retailers such as Natures Harvest and Dillamores Furnishers, and the Friends of Tiddenfoot have been very supportive of the project.
At first, the various beds were planted with cornfield annuals, herbs, vegetables for the community, and some garden flowers, particularly roses and other shrubs.
The then environment minister, Lord De Mauley, and local MP Andrew Selous visited the garden in July 2014 at the invitation of Leighton Linslade Town Council.
Children from Heathwood Lower School, who had helped to plant our Adams Bottom site, had been learning about the waggle dance that bees perform to show other bees in the nest where a good food supply is, and they came along to demonstrate it.
Over the years the aims have changed as we have gained experience; it became difficult to maintain the gardens to the standard needed for a garden of remembrance while encouraging bee-magnet flowers such as clover and self-heal, which can be very invasive. In 2015 a team of local residents started looking after the garden, and planted many garden flowers that are very attractive to bees, in the hope of encouraging other people to plant them, and so help bees over a wider area. We have had many requests for information about particular plants! We keep a list of the plants that bees are most attracted to here.
We try to ensure that there are some flowers available to bees all year round, even in January (red deadnettle and perennial wallflowers). We don’t use pesticides and we have been using a heat-based weed wand to clear weeds from the adjacent paths, which keeps them tidier, too.
There’s a blog on the Linslade Memorial Gardens website which is updated roughly every month; we use it to answer questions we’ve been asked while working there, and to document our progress. We’ve also had at least one new volunteer who enjoyed the blog and decided to come along and help us!