Friendship stories

Jenny Hearth and her dad receiving a Lowestoft in Bloom award

Jenny’s friendship story

Residents from Walmer Road in Lowestoft came together during the tough days of the pandemic and found a shared love of gardening. Jenny Hearth tells us about the neighbours who’ve become friends.

As lockdown began and Covid swept through the country, I became temporarily unemployed. Before the pandemic, I was working as a cook, and I was lost without work and friends.

I started baking on a Thursday morning and distributing cakes and biscuits to my neighbours on Walmer Road, Lowestoft. It became something that everyone looked forward to. It helped not only my mental health but that of others too, and as lockdown eased and friendships were formed, we began to also discover a love of gardening.

“We started to share plants and gardening tips, meeting in small groups outside in the road to chat and socialise.”

I am on the committee of Lowestoft in Bloom, and we decided we needed to bring communities together after these hard times. Lowestoft in Bloom runs a local competition to do just that. Schools, care homes, pubs and clubs, allotment holders and local groups all take part and Walmer Road residents also got together to take part in a floral challenge. Letters were distributed to all residents in the road and so began what has now become an annual event.

“Neighbours help and support each other, some doing work in each other’s gardens if they are unable to manage themselves due to age, disabilities or lack of gardening knowledge.”

Verges are mown, edges are chiselled and shaped, and many hands make light work. Tea, coffee, wine and beer are drunk, and chat is free flowing. All with the intention of making our street, not only a great place to live, but to show that we are as one, with nature and community spirit, a group of neighbours proud of their accomplishments and confident that they are living in a safe and friendly road that they call home.

It all comes together in mid-July when whatever theme has been chosen culminates in pots, baskets, wheelbarrows, step ladders and all sorts of homeware being adorned with floral splendour and being moved onto our well-maintained verges. Then a street display begins. It is always a pleasure to see everyone’s efforts. We all wander up and down, admiring the work that has gone on, and through social media we also draw in visitors, coming to view and enjoy our displays. At the end of judging day, we have a street gathering and enjoy beverages and food as a group.

Floral splendour in Walmer Road, Lowestoft

“Despite the challenges Covid threw at us all, we have come through as a great team in Walmer Road.”

Walmer Road is an It’s Your Neighbourhood group. Perhaps you feel inspired to revamp the street you live on, or an existing community garden or a disused area? Almost any outdoor space being looked after by the local community can qualify for It’s Your Neighbourhood. Visit the It’s Your Neighbourhood webpage to find out more about the benefits of signing up.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.