'Hidden gem' Anne's Community Garden celebrates 25 years in Heeley, with new noticeboard
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“It’s a riot of buddleia, brambles, nettles, and ivy, all attractive to bees and butterflies, and overseen by a huge apple tree - a likely result of someone chucking an apple core from a passing train.
"It’s a beautiful nature spot, and so many people tell us they make a point of taking a detour to walk down it on their visits to the shops.”
The lane, tucked away on a strip of land behind the retail park in Heeley, is a hidden gem in the area; the home of Anne’s Community Garden.
It’s been 25 years since a local woman, known only as Anne, turned the overgrown patch of land at the back of - what was – Gresham’s Timber Yard into a garden, using plants from her own backyard.
Her efforts won her a Lord Mayor’s Sheffield in Bloom award in 2007.
In 2009, when Gresham’s closed, the garden had to be destroyed to make way for the ground source heating system for the new B&M store that went up in its place.
But a small group of volunteers refused to let the garden be lost, coming together to bring it back, using many of the original plants that were dug up and stored in pots while the development work went on.
"We’ve been gradually making it bigger ever since,” explains Judy, one of the volunteers who has been involved for the past decade.
“We’ve expanded beyond the original garden to take in the left hand side of the pathway along the Victorian railway wall, towards Heeley Retail Park, and the bottom end of the pathway backing onto the current railway embankment wall.
"People tell us they look forward to seeing it when they’re out and about, and if we’re here working, people always stop to chat and hear our various stories.
"Anne, who is now in her 80s, is no longer involved, but she’s our patron, and loves what we do; she’s so glad people have taken on the job she started.”
And this week, to celebrate the garden’s 25th anniversary, volunteers gathered on the pathway to unveil its new noticeboard, to help tell their story to local residents.
“One of our members, Pete Weston, managed to get a bit of funding for a noticeboard, to let know people know about our history, and how to contact us, or get involved,” says Judy.
"There are so many elements to this wonderful garden – artwork, and contributions from local schools, as well as fantastic donations of plants and time from local volunteers – and this magnificent noticeboard will enable us to share it all.”
Pete Weston added: “To me, this garden is a place to make friends with great community-minded people you perhaps wouldn’t normally get the chance to meet, and space to reflect on how we can nurture nature to create green urban spaces for the benefit of everybody.”