Mind the wildflowers: how volunteers are brightening up Hammersmith

Two volunteers have started a series of greening projects to plant wildflowers in Hammersmith to brighten the area after lockdown.

Qualified garden designers Donatella Goretti and Irene Rosazza wanted to get more involved in their community in the best way they knew how, by offering their time and skills to create spaces for wildflowers.

Although there are some existing green spaces, these bare gardens are like a desert for bees.

They introduced a variety of low maintenance wildflowers in the patch in front of the Hammersmith tube station.

The plants improve biodiversity, offer nectar for bees and a colourful distraction for people passing by the congested area.

Goretti said: “With Covid, everybody has been so much indoors, and we really thought, God this is so gloomy, everything feels so bad, let’s just create something that can lift up the spirit a little bit.”

Swati Deshpande, 38, a marketing manager that regularly visits the area, noticed the flowers on her first day commuting after a long time of working from home.

Despite running late and feeling overwhelmed, she stopped and took some pictures to capture the moment.

She said: “No matter how busy you are in life, or how occupied you are in your mind, when you see some beautiful flowers, you have to stop and admire them, even if they are in the middle of a busy roundabout.

“I would love to say thank you to the people that planted them because now every time I walk past there, I am looking to see what are the new flowers that have come out.”

As both Goretti and Rosazza work full time, they are looking for volunteers to help with new project ideas.

After running gardening workshops with school children, Goretti noticed the positive effects of working with their hands and planting flowers.

She said: “They start relaxing and laughing a lot more, it really improves mental wellbeing.

“Gardening is a brilliant activity for making friends, socialising, but also de-stressing, relaxing and getting in touch with nature.”

Plans to partner with local surgeries are in the future, particularly to involve patients suffering from depression.

GARDEN DESIGNER: Volunteer Donatella Goretti explains why flower variety is important

Goretti noticed something she wanted to change in the community and acted.

She said: “My advice is: if you want to do something, just do it. The council is very open, just go and contact them.”

The Hammersmith & Fulham Council supports residents to plant in their tree bases to promote urban greening within the borough.

Goretti also encourages interested volunteers to reach out to Friends of Brook Green, a community organisation of which she is a part of, as they have tools and can help with specific initiatives.

HAMMERSMITH TUBE STATION: Commuters often pause to enjoy the wildflowers

Similarly, Transport for London also backs environmental efforts that bring more nature onto stations.

Andrew Jones, customer service supervisor at Hammersmith tube station, said: “We know the wildflower planters on Hammersmith Broadway near the Tube and bus stations are appreciated by people travelling through the area.”

Among the community projects they support are annual staff gardening competitions and the Healthy Streets approach to increase greenery.

If you are interested in planting a tree base, contact the Hammersmith & Fulham Council on 020 8753 1100, or email at [email protected].

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