Former Blue Peter gardener helps Flagship transform disused land into green oasis

Former Blue Peter gardener helps Flagship transform disused land into green oasis

A former Blue Peter gardener joined Flagship during the transformation of a disused patch of land into a thriving garden in Wickham Market.

Christopher Collins – resident green finger on the long-running children’s television show from 2004 to 2014 – joined a Flagship Services team for the project on land off King Edward Avenue, near houses managed by Flagship’s housing association Newtide Homes.

Dan Salliss, biodiversity and land manager, said members of Flagship’s neighbourhood and ground maintenance teams mucked in to lay a new pathway with bark chippings, installed bug hotels, created a ‘bog garden’ and planted wildflower seeds.

The teams also planted a coppice of 36 young trees including crab apple, hazel, rowan, wild cherry, willow and a beurre hardy pear.

Dan said: “Chris gave us some ideas of what to do there, and he joined our team to put them all into place.

“The land is on a popular route for people walking into the village centre. We plan to put in a bench as well at some point so people will be able to stop and sit and enjoy the nature.

“The project shows our commitment to biodiversity and improving the green spaces around our homes.”

Christopher Collins, former Blue Peter gardener, and a Flagship Services team

Chris is head of horticulture at Garden Organic and is also a former head gardener at Westminster Abbey.

He said: “I really enjoyed working on this project with Flagship, it was one of those jobs where everyone enjoyed themselves.

“We’ve created an area which will encourage a lot more wildlife, and hopefully the community will benefit from it as well.

“This is the type of project that the Flagship team could also implement in other areas.”

A bog garden was a small area that is deliberately waterlogged, which helps alleviate flooding and encourages a great diversity of plants and animals.

The project was one of several Garden Organic is undertaking with Flagship.

Last month Chris ran a training day with members of the ground maintenance team. He is also contributing to a welcome pack for new tenants with tips on organic gardening and a seed pack.

Vicki Tishler, Flagship’s head of neighbourhood services, said: “The work we have carried out with Garden Organic has been so inspiring and given us a real insight into how we can better manage our land for both our tenants and wildlife to enjoy.

“We are also working on some initiatives to support and advise our tenants on what and how to plant their own gardens.“

Read next: Clarion Futures awards £145,800 to environmental projects in communities nationwide

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