A real sense of community spirit at RSPCA York's Landing Lane Gardens

PUBLISHED: 14:18 28 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:22 20 February 2013

A real sense of community spirit at RSPCA York's Landing Lane Gardens

A real sense of community spirit at RSPCA York's Landing Lane Gardens

Yorkshire Life blogger Victoria Thompson visits RSPCA York's Landing Lane Gardens

Across Yorkshire many people give up their free time and volunteer it to help amazing causes. Whether that is reading to children in schools, decorating the flowers in church, cleaning up the streets, knitting cloths for the needy or digging over your local community garden every little amount of time goes towards doing something amazing to help somebody else. It makes me proud to be a Yorkshire lass.

Having a passion for writing about community gardening has introduced me to some incredible people over the years with some really heart warming stories, one of which I came across recently, a hundred yards up the road from my work place in York of all places. RSPCA York is home to a community gardening project affectionately known as Landing Lane Gardens run by volunteer Head Gardener Julia Smith, her mum and a diverse team of volunteers.

Talking to Julia I couldnt fail to see her passion and enthusiasm for the garden project. Since March 2010 she has turned around what was once a negative space, an overgrown chore that no one had time for into a hugely positive and stimulating environment for not only the animals that live there but for the staff and visitors to enjoy too.

The main focus of the garden has to be its magical ability to make you smile and every element had its own heart warming story; this for me truly is everything a community garden should be and is one of the most inspiring community led places Ive visited.

Landing Lane Garden started off as an untamed jungle of overgrown monstrous plants which over the last year, with the help of some dedicated and determined volunteers has been transformed into a heaven for rescued animals and wildlife. It provides fresh organic vegetable treats for the small animals to help keep the centres running costs down, and they also grow plants to sell and craftily make catnip treats to raise much needed cash for the RSPCA.

Every penny thats raised goes directly back into helping save the lives of animals. The main feature of the garden that captured my imagination was the way it absorbed the attention the animals surrounding it, catching a glimpse of a small group of kittens as they gazed longingly out of their windows to look upon the sea of catmint before them, I couldnt help but smile.

Grace the fascinating, leaf-composting, 11ft tall bunny rabbit makes a striking focal point in the centre of the garden. Designed and built by engineering apprentices at York College not only is Grace a piece of art but she has a hugely valuable ability to make garden rubbish into gardening gold......beautifully designed and the envy of all gardeners (I want one)!

This garden is streaming with imagination; could you ever imagine coming up with the idea of donating your whole front garden to a worthwhile cause? Thats exactly what one supporter of the Landing Lane gardens did. Equipped with spades in hand, Julia and her team collected a whole front garden in York and transferred it across town to be replanted and left to settle into its new home outside the cat houses at RSPCA York.

Julia told me that last year the roses from the donated garden (a particular favourite of her mother) had attracted a vast array of butterflies and bees that didnt just increase the biodiversity of the garden but they became a wildlife TV to entertain the four legged residents. Another lovingly donated item that tickled me was the cat-shaped bird box donated in memory of Margo, the cat that loved birds.

So not only is this garden enriching the environment for the rescued animals, sustainable, full of biodiversity and providing essential habitats for our native flora and fauna, but it also brings people together from all walks of life, no matter what their background or ability and their input has a substantial value in developing the RSPCA Landing Lane Gardens.

This is all why Im absolutely pleased to announce that Landing Lane Gardens received a well deserved Silver award in their first attempt at the Yorkshire in Bloom competition, very well done to everyone involved and I have to say its an exceptional achievement for your first year of growing.

If you have something you would like to donate to Landing Lane Gardens; whether thats spare plants from your garden, bird boxes, garden tools, handmade crafts, or your husband for a couple of hours to get him out the house feel free to contact Julia: juliahsmith@me.com , phone her on 07887482326, or you can find her on twitter @LLGardensYork

Julia said that if you have a skill, no matter what it is, she can make use of it.

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