On Monday 10th September a group of us, from The Stress Project, gathered to attend the annual Islington In Bloom awards ceremony. The Stress Project had a special reason for being there, as we were due to collect a silver prize from the Mayor, in the Best Community Centre Garden category!
Originally set up by the Islington Gardeners Association, the awards ceremony, now in its 15th year, took place at the Islington Assembly Hall. The hall had gotten a bit of a green fingered make-over, with all the tables decked out with potted plants and some rather tall foliage providing the backdrop for the photos. A few people had gotten into the spirit of things with flowery shirts including Bob Gilbert, former Director of Sustainability for Islington, who was presenting the ceremony.
We started with an important warm up for our hands, for all the clapping we would be doing, as there were so many entries this year. Councillor Claudia Webbe, the Executive Member for Environment and Transport for Islington, then came forward to speak to us. Reminding us that considering Islington is the borough with the smallest amount of open space in London, it is incredible what was has been accomplished by residents and those that look after the green spaces we have.
I loved watching the pictures of all the winning gardens and green spaces flash up on the screen and seeing how creative people had gotten. The categories didn’t just cover community gardens and local businesses. We saw lots of colourful and imaginative entries from the children’s poster competition – these were announced first so they weren’t kept up too late on a school night. There was even a new category for people who had gotten creative with tree pits. I noticed a few pretty ones myself wondering around Islington, so it was nice to see the people involved being recognised for their contribution.
When it came to The Stress Project collecting their award, there were some great comments from the judges. The fact that they grew lemon verbena and used it for tea got a special mention. I have yet to try and I love herbal tea. Anyone who has visited the garden will have seen first-hand all the hard work, love and care that has gone into achieving so much within a small space.
It was a great evening and difficult to leave without feeling inspired to do some gardening. A big congratulations to all the gardeners and volunteers at The Stress Project for a well-deserved win! If you would like to experience the award-winning garden for yourself, there are two drop-in therapeutic gardening sessions run on a Tuesday and Thursday between 11am-1pm, alongside other therapies. You are, of course, more than welcome to drop by and admire the garden – you may even get some freshly brewed herbal tea! Please contact us, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more details.