Sunday, June 30, 2013

Southsea Greenhouse

I recently visited Southsea Greenhouse for the first time and became a member straight away! Although the Southsea Greenhouse Co-Operative have been creating art and selling fruit and veg for a long time, it's only this year that they actually acquired their own permanent site. This is certainly a special gem of a place, which really contributes to Portsmouth's loveliness, hidden next to Cumberland House, the Natural History Museum. From the moment I saw the brightly painted welcoming banner at the front announcing this community garden, I knew it was going to be a project that I'd be hugely interested in.

We were greeted by an enthusiastic volunteer who offered to give us a guided tour and a potted history of the garden. Less than a year ago this was a derelict piece of land, overgrown and neglected. Volunteers worked incredibly hard through the cold months and Spring to create an incredible haven of fertile horticultural cultivation and arty creativity. Volunteers were busy potting more plants while we were looking round.

People are invited to come and help out on 'Dig Tuesdays' between 10-12, but the garden is open most days between 10-4 including weekends and anyone is welcome to come and have a look round, ask questions and get stuck in to tending the beds, and they suggest you bring gardening gloves and boots.

 However it's certainly not all about digging!

Not only is the place a lovely thriving garden now, but it is offering a lot more than that. As the group's mission statement says:
We want to change the way people shop, and help the local community benefit from fresh, locally-grown produce.

We want to reconnect the people of Southsea with where their food and flowers come from; and encourage them to try growing their own produce, or be inspired to create their own craft-works.

We were introduced to the two 'Guardians' of the garden who overlook the activities and offer their vibrant, knitted protection to this little sanctuary:

My favourite sign was an old worn piece of wood informing us that we were "now entering a seedy part of town"!

There was a good illustration of how an old pallet could be upcycled into an effective vertical planting frame, with narrow little beds for herbs.

 The pond was full of life, still some big fat tadpoles and little frogs. Dragonflies and nymphs were pointed out to us and it was fascinating to take a close up look at the cast-off 'skins' from the newly emerged dragonflies.

Amongst the plants and living creatures are also plenty of other characters to keep an eye out for...

Although I haven't participated yet with the weeding, watering or other useful activities to justify taking a break, I was very enticed by the lovely sight of seat, book and mug of tea calling to me...

 There's also a shop where you can buy a wide variety of local and organic fruit and vegetables. Also inside the hut are locally handmade crafts and cards for sale.

 At weekends there are sometimes local craft people who come to exhibit their wares or provide some entertainment. This weekend, my son, the creator of the comic 'The Red Crow' enjoyed having a stall outside!

The Southsea Greenhouse is a huge asset to the city and as a community co-operative is really eager to encourage the active involvement of local people.

To find out more, please visit their great website:
Or like their page on Facebook:

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