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Sidmouth's new 'coral reef community garden' starts taking shape

By Philippa Davies

17th Mar 2021 | Local News

Work is under way to transform an 'unloved' site in Sidmouth into a sea-themed community garden.

The site at Port Royal is in a key location, between the sea, the river Sid and the town centre, and is used for public events including the Folk Festival and Sidmouth Sea Fest. It also connects with the Sensory Garden next to the play park, which is managed by Sidmouth In Bloom.

Sidmouth Coastal Community Hub successfully applied for funding from the town council, the Sid Vale Association and county councillor Stuart Hughes's Locality Fund to turn what they described as an 'unloved space' into a garden, with areas representing a beach, the sea and cliffs, along with a seating area and a decorative mural. THere will be bird and bat boxes, and the garden will be designed and planted to support biodiversity.

Who's been involved in the project?

The garden has been designed by Lynette Talbot of Sidmouth In Bloom, and residents of nearby Glenisla Terrace have taken the lead on ideas for the area opposite the play park. Sidmouth Arboretum has pledged some new trees, and Friends of the Byes and the Sid Valley Biodiversity Group are also involved.

Local resident Pete Scott said; "We are well underway with clearing the border areas and new Viburnum hedges are being delivered for planting, which is the first element of the wave planting scheme."

Louise Cole, Director of Sidmouth Coastal Community Hub, said: "As part of the improvements to the area we have also started to repaint the Fish Wall Mural, and children from Sidmouth C of E Primary school have worked on designs for the fish.

"We have had to respond to the current Covid restrictions of course, so are finding ways to ensure the children's creativity is realised.

"We think now, more than ever, contributing to and enjoying art in public spaces is important for us all. People often tell us that they and their children or grandchildren love the wall. It seems to bring a smile to everyone."

Community artist Coco Hodgkinson said: "We are also lucky to be working with sculptor Ben Barrel on the Coral Reef garden space and have commissioned a wave bench and pebble seating. This will be a lovely focal point for the garden where people can sit and relax, hopefully it will help people to feel good, especially as we reconnect with each other after what has been such a tough time."

Anyone who would like to get involved and volunteer on the project and help with weeding, planting and heritage research is asked to email [email protected]

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