Green-fingered customers recently got the opportunity to visit the community gardens at High Woods Country Park in Colchester organised by our Greening Communities team.

The Big Garden project was set up in 2006 on unused land to give locals the opportunity to learn more about growing their own fruit and vegetables and to volunteer with simple garden tasks in a supported environment.

Community gardener Wayne gave us a guided tour of the garden, where we got the chance to pick redcurrants, water tomatoes and dig up potatoes. This last task was the favourite for most of the group, especially when one of the mums accidently dug up a toad. What a fright she got! However, all was well when we released the toad back into a local pond.

Wayne allowed us to take some of the fruit home with us afterwards, so there will be a lot of jam making sessions soon!

One of the customers from Hargood Close, who visits the park a lot anyway, decided to become a weekly volunteer on the project so that he can learn more gardening skills in between the work on Hargood’s greening project.

In the afternoon, the community bus took us over to the world famous Beth Chatto gardens, Colchester, where we took inspiration from the dry garden and admired the beautiful ponds filled with water lilies and hungry ducks. We had a look around the plant shop and one of the customers couldn’t resist buying a couple of the more unusual herbs for his garden.

Last call of the day was to visit the café for some well-deserved tea and ice cream. When asked about her favourite part of the day, four-year-old Lily replied loudly “Finding the birds in the book and the sandwich in the park”.