Henley in Bloom is paying tribute to the Forestry Commission’s centenary with this year’s celebration beds design. The Mill Meadows flowerbeds, located on the green between the river and the playgrounds, were planted last week by the Parks Department’s Kyle Dowling, Henley in Bloom’s Gardening Buddies, and Henley in Bloom Chairman, David Eggleton. Featuring a bright yellow ‘100’ and the Forestry Commission logo, the two beds are a floral homage to the commission’s valuable work in protecting our woodlands.
The 2019 celebration beds, which champion a new subject each year, were devised by Kyle Dowling after Janet Sutton, a member of the Gardening Buddies, suggested the Forestry Commission focus. The left-hand bed depicts a large ‘100’ in yellow flowers (a reference to the Commission’s own use of yellow in their promotions), with the word ‘established’ above and ‘1919’ below both in red flowers. The right bed shows the Forestry Commission logo featuring conifer trees and blue ageratum flowers to resemble bluebells, as they are so frequently associated with British woodlands. Both bed designs are surrounded by a base of bark mulch to represent a forest floor and to make the flowers stand out.
The Forestry Commission was formed in 1919, intended to re-establish the nation’s woodlands that had been decimated by the First World War. A century later, their mission may be more important than ever in our delicate and changing climate, with trees providing habitats for many species of plants and animals as well as improving air quality. It was for this reason that Henley in Bloom chose to recognise the Commission’s valuable work so far. Kyle Dowling said, “It’s all about sustainability, and it’s one of the reasons why we went with this idea; it really represents what Henley’s about and what we’re trying to move towards with conservation and sustainability.” In the spirit of sustainability, some of the plants in the celebration beds will be reclaimed for other projects; although many of the bedding plants will only last a year, the conifers will be removed and reused.
The 2019 celebration beds were funded by Henley in Bloom, and the plants sourced from Toad Hall Garden Centre. The beautiful floral display, which can be enjoyed throughout the summer, is thanks to the number of people involved in its creation, particularly to the Gardening Buddies who volunteered to help with planting. The Gardening Buddies, founded by Liz Hodgkin, are a small group of locals who give up their time to make Henley look its very best. They are always looking to welcome new members to their team; Jan Sutton explains, “You don’t need any gardening knowledge. We’re all mates and we have a laugh. It’s a social thing.”
If you would like to help in making the town look pretty, want to spend some time outside in nature, or just enjoy good company, the Gardening Buddies would love to hear from you. Contact Becky Walker at Henley Town Council via B.firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.