A small band of dedicated volunteer gardeners have been rewarded for their green-fingered efforts with a prestigious award from Britain in Bloom.
The Cricklepit Garden Group has been working for four years with the Devon Wildlife Trust. During this time eight regular volunteers have transformed the grounds of Cricklepit Mill, the conservation charity's Exeter headquarters which sits close to the city's busy historic Quayside.
Now the beauty and inventiveness of the volunteers has been recognised. Their garden has scooped the highest level of accreditation - 'Outstanding' - in Britain in Bloom's 'It's Your Neighbourhood' awards 2016.
Judges enjoyed the garden's mix of sensory beds, small ponds, a winter heath garden, bee and butterfly borders and a culinary herb bed.
The volunteer gardeners were praised by Britain in Bloom assessors for a number of key areas:
- The garden's innovative use of "bird boxes, bat boxes, bird feeders and planting for pollinators throughout the year".
- Also highlighted was the volunteers' innovative use of "recycled materials and rainwater harvesting", along with the use of composted material from Devon Wildlife Trust's offices.
- Judges also praised the volunteers' willingness to share the garden with visitors through the staging of regular open days and tours.
George Barbour is the Cricklepit Garden Group's Head Gardener and one of its founding members. George said:
"I'm delighted for all the team that our efforts have been recognised. To win in the 'It's Your Neighbourhood' category is especially pleasing because when we began our work four years ago we wanted it to be a place for local people to come and enjoy wildlife in a peaceful garden setting."
Speaking for Devon Wildlife Trust, Steve Hussey said:
"We're delighted that our volunteer gardeners have been rewarded for their hours of labour. Staff and visitors to Cricklepit Mill have benefited from their work. The garden is now a beautiful place to be, it's full of wildflowers and wildlife. It's a garden which reflects the ethos of our charity and the history of this wonderful working watermill."
Cricklepit Mill and its garden can be found at Commercial Road, Exeter, EX2 4RB, close to the Bishop Blaize pub and the city's Quay. Both are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Entry is free.
Special milling days are held every month where visitors can see Exeter's only working watermill grinding wheat into flour. The next milling day will be held on Friday 11 November between 10am and 12noon.
The Cricklepit Garden Group can be found working in the garden every Wednesday afternoon. Its volunteers are just one example of the 300 people who regularly volunteer for the charity across Devon. More details about volunteering for Devon Wildlife Trust can be found at www.devonwildlifetrust.org