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Bloom team bid to restore greenhouse
Friday, 15 March 2013
DARTMOUTH in Bloom has big plans to rescue one of the town’s greatest assets, the community greenhouse, and restore it to its former Edwardian glory.
The move comes at a time when the future of the community greenhouse is at risk, with controversial proposals from South Hams Council, which owns the building, to flatten it to extend the Mayor Avenue car park.
But the bloom team has worked on a management and restoration plan, setting out their aims and objectives for working with the council to ensure full community use.
One aim is to grow plants for the hanging baskets and other floral displays around the town in the greenhouse, something which has not been done for many years.
The team would like to work with South Hams to ensure access for wheelchair users to enjoy gardening at a height useful to them.
Secretary Melanie Trent said: ‘Studies have shown that gardening can have huge benefits to Alzheimer's sufferers, as the therapeutic activity can trigger the good memories that Alzheimer’s pushes out of focus.
‘If the greenhouse can be made properly accessible, we would like it to be used by the elderly, the infirm, those suffering from physical or mental impairment, who would enjoy some fun gardening but have nowhere to do it at the moment.’
The bloom team are hoping to secure the blessing of the owners, as they would like to implement initiatives with the younger residents too, and have plans for an ‘education area’ where courses can be held to help children and adults learn more about horticulture. Also included would be a ‘heritage area’, with information about the history of the greenhouse .
Mrs Trent added: ‘The management and restoration plan for the Dartmouth community greenhouse would enable it to become a jewel in the crown of South Hams’ assets, as it would be one of a very small number of community greenhouses in England. For Dartmouth, the benefits would be both visual and cultural, the building would become a tourist attraction in its own right.
‘As all Dartmouth businesses know, the more we have to attract visitors the more likely they are to enjoy spending their hard earned money in our town.
‘The plan depends, of course, on the rescue of the greenhouse. The base seems solid, though it will need to be checked. It is hoped that the upper frame, though rotten in places, can be rescued for long enough for this year’s planting work to go forward while funding is being raised.’
Recognising the huge historical importance of the greenhouse and its part in the heritage of the town, the bloom team has researched its history of the greenhouse and also is finding specialists in the restoration of historic greenhouses as part of their plan.
The team want to hear from anyone who remembers the greenhouse in its earlier days who can add to their knowledg and, in particular, want to track down some early photographs.
The greenhouse, built in 1905, was an original feature of the New Ground, which became Royal Avenue Gardens, and remains the oldest surviving feature of the gardens, six years older than the bandstand.
‘We very much hope that South Hams will be happy to allow us to work with them on this project’, added Mrs Trent. ‘Just look at what Dartmouth would have at the end of it; a beautifully restored, practical greenhouse for the use of the whole community, as well as a unique new tourist attraction.’
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