Preparations for the January blues have begun at Northfield End with the planting of crocuses and snowdrops. The Northfield End green, by the Marlow Rd and Fairmile roundabout, is the focus of a community planting project to spruce up the previously neglected area. The snowdrops and crocuses were provided by David Eggleton, with the help of Toad Hall, and will make for a beautiful entrance into the town come the new year.
The Northfield End planting project began earlier this year after a group of local residents approached the Town Council about improving the area. Bell St resident Helen Gaynor explained, “It was a very scruffy little green space with a scruffy bench, neglected, grass not cut enough. So a little group of our residents got together and said, we must be able to make this better — shall we speak to the council and see what we can do? Everybody has bought into this green and are now committed to improving the look of it, because it is in a very prominent position if you’re driving from Marlow, or driving from Oxford. It should look better than it has done.”
The first real milestone for the green was reached in November with the planting of the commemorative 100th Armistice tree. Though originally planned in order to block the back of a large road sign, the Photinia Red Robin’s distinctive red new growth inspired the group to plant the tree as a symbol of memorial. Planted on Remembrance Sunday, the significant tree will stand alongside a permanent memorial plaque and the story of troops who gathered there in 1913.
In spring, the green will be transformed with the addition of an evergreen shrub bed, funded by the Henley Town Council. However, conscious of the currently bare space, residents were keen to plant some bulbs to blossom throughout the winter months. This idea was heavily supported by David Eggleton, Town Councillor and Chair of Henley in Bloom. Though most of the Northfield End renovations have been sponsored by the council, the bulbs were provided by David himself, with the help of a discount from Toad Hall. “I just thought it would be nice,” he said. “I’ve worked with Parks Services to see what would be well suited, and I think it just uplifts the roundabout, having a few different seasonal plants. With plants, it doesn’t matter what type of plant it is, plants and flowers are always uplifting. When you see snowdrops and crocuses, to me it means the start of a new year, and flowers are just uplifting.”
The bulbs were planted by some of the residents, about 20 of whom have volunteered to help with the green renovation project. Commenting on their community spirit, David Eggleton stated, “What I’d say is, anybody can get involved in their own little projects and their own little bit of green space. Just make sure work with the appropriate authorities before you just go out and do stuff, but it’s very rewarding and uplifting being part of the community.”
The flowers will hopefully appear through the grass in early January. As Helen said, “At least when it’s all grey and dismal in the early part of the new year, perhaps something pretty will come up, and it will cheer us all up.”