The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth,
One’s nearer God’s heart in a garden, than anywhere else on Earth.
This little poem came to mind as we were shown around the wonderful wildlife abundant garden which has been lovingly created by volunteer gardener Susan Weeks. Pauline Brown has been helping Susan with this labour of love in recent years and was kind enough to show us some of the features which make it so appealing to wildlife and humans alike!
Chyngton Methodist Church is situated at the sometimes busy junction of Millberg Road and Walmer Road. But despite the hustle and bustle of being on the school run and bus route, it’s a little oasis of calm and tranquillity – a fantastic inspiration for neighbours living in the “On the Verge” pilot Nature Streets of Millberg and Saltwood Road.
The idea of Nature Streets is to leave something for wildlife by letting verges grow, leaving gaps in fences and hedges and maybe installing mini ponds and log-piles as vital habitats. In this way we can create wildlife corridors across Seaford for nature to connect up and thrive.
As soon as you glance over the wall of the Chyngton Methodist Garden you can see it is a true nature garden and that a lot of love and care has gone into creating it. There really is something for everyone from beautiful scented yellow roses and stunning peonies, to their less cultivated, but just as charming cousins; vibrant poppies, delicate aquilegia and love-in-the-mist and the cheerful toadflax, to name but a few.
Pauline explained that the plants, such as the perennial sweet peas and antirrhinums so loved by bees, have been carefully chosen to promote biodiversity and provide beauty and colour through the seasons.
Notable among the many wildlife friendly features is the long grass in the sheltered front garden, full of different varieties of softly waving grasses and sprinkled with tiny yellow blossoms.n the corner of the car park, there is a 2 metre square haven for wildlife, brimming with all sort of plants and flowers which attract butterflies, bees and other insects – such as this delicate hebe and sweet williams. This space includes logs and some old fencing, cleverly reused as trellis for a clematis, which provide a great place for creatures to hide. If you look very carefully you can even spot a secret pond – a plant pot in a previous life!
Susan and Pauline are committed organic gardeners and are attribute their results in part to a generous application of well-rotted horse manure and homemade compost. The diverse selection of plants attracts predator insects such as ladybirds, wasps and hoverfly which keep aphids under control and negate the need to use chemicals. Water butts provide a good supply of rainwater which plants love, reducing the need to call on the mains supply.
Some areas of the lawn, around the pretty sliver birch, magnolia and flowering privet are mown – but this sympathetic and not too short – making it more resilient to a dry spell. The trees and shrubs provide a resting place and habit for birds and insects connecting with the trees which, thanks to Trees for Seaford, now line Millberg Road.
This is truly a sensory garden; bird song, and the chatter of passing families provide the soundtrack, whilst the sights and scent of the flowers are evident for all, but to this you can add taste and touch. The area by the carpark is home to the biggest sage plant we have ever encountered, and nestling close by is a fragrant rosemary bush – whose flowers are also great for bees.
This wonderful space is indeed good for nature and good for the soul. Its beauty can be enjoyed by passers-by as well as the parishioners who take coffee in the garden. Susan and Pauline both love working in the garden, and come as often as they can as the place provides its own reward.
I would certainly recommend a stroll past the garden to see how many different plants, insects and birds you can spot. You might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a frog in the pond!
Thank you Susan and Pauline for creating and maintaining this wonderful space, and thanks too Revd. Barbara Evans-Routley for your positive response to the Nature Streets initiative.
Becky Francomb and Jo Rigby