Dundee school pupils revamp local eyesore

A wildflower meadow is created by the students as an environmental project

Once overgrown and full of litter, Queen Street Community Garden is now a wildflower garden supporting more than 50 different species of wildflowers and pollinator plants. “It’s a blaze of colour and wildlife in the summer, and really brightens up the urban landscape and the car park,” says group leader Mary Holligan.

The garden started as a student-led guerrilla gardening activity nine years ago; 6th year-pupils cleared the site of litter and hard-core during the day and came back at night to deposit Dundee City Council’s homemade discovery compost and scatter the first lot of wildflower seed.

Mary, a teacher at Grove Academy, said the group’s first It’s Your Neighbourhood Award in 2011 was an encouragement for new gardeners to keep going, and a way of tapping into the experience and ideas of experienced gardeners. 

'We've already achieved such a lot and we have plans to make even more of the space. We want to create some information signs for visitors and school pupils to learn more about this gem on their doorsteps and the nature that lives there.' 

“While the garden continues to be challenged by litter, including cigarette butts discarded by passing drivers, we won’t be deterred,” said Mary. 

In 2012, the group worked with the Criminal Justice Service to create a path and a raised bed, adding structure to the garden and providing additional growing space for herbs. Over the years the site has been continued to grow, thanks in part to two-years of funding from Volunteering Matters Action Earth, allowing a new wildlife pond and a gabion seating area decorated with sensory plants.

The Nature Nutters, a local youth environment group has helped with some of the more labour-intensive activities, including building a bug hotel, building gabions planters for the community’s artwork and creating a woodchip path to encourage visitors to walk through the middle of the garden and fully experience its beauty.

The site has also been a chance to encourage gardening related creativity. Thanks to funding from Grow Wild Scotland, the garden also boasts a ‘Mythical Meadow’, with Grove school pupils designing mythical creatures based on the garden, and the group hosted their first garden scarecrow trail in 2016.

The group has sown autumn poppy seeds as part of the Ribbon of Poppies campaign, marking the WW1 centenary, and plans to bring the WW1 theme and the 100 years of the suffragette movement into the garden and wider community as part of a Broughty in Bloom collaboration. 

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