Blooming marvellous at Oakfield Gardens

Residents at Oakfield Gardens in Southampton have created a lovely oasis in their communal space for all to enjoy – and we are now proud winners of the Southampton In Bloom Award. This is a great local accolade and testament to the garden’s positive effect on the recipients wellbeing.

When Paul Anders moved into his home in 2017, he noticed that the communal garden was looking a little tired. As an Ability Housing tenant within one of our developments, Paul saw an opportunity to rejuvenate the garden and, along with his carer, spoke to neighbours to see if others were keen too. Happily, a group came forward and they set about making plans to regenerate the space. This included creating better access to the garden for wheelchair users – which they were successful in applying for a Life Improvement Grant for.

Together, the group built a herb garden, improved the planters and created extra seating. This year their hard work really paid off – the group have grown tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, green beans and carrots, as well as flowers and plenty of herbs. As well as a wonderful selections of fresh produce, there have been other benefits – resident have been inspired to grow their own fruits and vegetables on their balconies and the project has also encouraged them to use the space for socialising and looking out for one another.

There have been lots of benefits for Paul, too. He was diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder a few years ago, so having a project to focus on helps to keep him well:

“The garden relaxes me – it’s a secluded gem. I enjoy the interaction with others, as well as the peace and quiet. And it’s so cheerful to look at.”

At the Southampton In Bloom Awards on Wednesday 25 September the group were thrilled to take home the Silver award in the Communal Gardens category. The judges were impressed with the garden and encouraged them to enter again in 2020 – when they will be going for gold!