The President of the Sid Vale Association, Handel Bennett, and John Townsend from the Keith Owen Fund, invite the people of Sidmouth to respond to a new challenge. PLANT A MILLION BULBS!
Many people are already aware of the very generous gift made to Sidmouth and the Sid Valley, by the late Keith Owen. He asked the Sid Vale Association ‘to think outside the box’. Whilst encouraging conservation and natural heritage, he said, ‘Think big! Plant a million bulbs! - get everyone involved.” The SVA is now seeking ways to meet that challenge.
Already local land owners and managers from the D.C.C., EDDC, National Trust, the Millennium Green Trust (Sidbury), churches and others, have generously given permission for planting on their land. Chosen sites include areas viewed by visitors travelling through Sidbury and Sidford, or in the Byes; and along the grassy slopes of Peak Hill and Jacob’s Ladder Chine in Sidmouth (see box). Also footpaths linking Blackmore Gardens via the Parish Church, with the Museum, Kennaway House and shops in Church Street. All locations will be planted by volunteers including Senior citizens and younger residents (and parents) responding to this challenge.
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Handel said “We are inviting the community to help by joining with others to plant bulbs together. October 26 will be on Sidmouth’s premier sites in Jacob’s Ladder Chine and on Peak Hill only. But there are over 40 sites where the planting of naturalised bulbs will happen through the goodwill and efforts of many local groups’. Volunteers have already offered to plant bulbs from September through to November. These include pupils and parents from Sidmouth CEPS, Sidbury CEPS, St. John’s IE School, Sidmouth College; churchyards of the Parish Church, St. Giles (Sidbury), St. Francis (Woolbrook), and St. Peter’s (Sidford); the SVA Woodlands and Estates team, Sidmouth in Bloom, National Trust East Devon Rangers from Branscombe, Friends of the Byes, Balfour Manor Residents, Lymebourne Residents, Sidmouth W.I., Sidbury community, Stowford Lodge Community Centre; S. Cricket, Tennis, and Croquet Club, S. Rugby Club; the Scouts, Guides, and Brownies, the Fusion Youth Café; Army Cadets, Air Training Cadets; and Waitrose staff.
Handel Bennett says “We welcome contact from more groups willing to join in and help us.
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John Townsend continued, “We will plant naturalised bulbs as far as possible. They are more likely to re-appear year after year. Some bulbs will be planted in clumps. Small bulbs (snowdrops, crocuses, and bluebells) will be planted in handfuls”. He said: “We have ordered 153,000 bulbs of 9 different varieties to be planted this year. We are grateful for the generous co-operation of Sidmouth Garden Centre in the logistics of handling, storing, sorting and distributing of such a large quantity. Together we will provide basic horticultural advice to group leaders about bulb planting. We intend to use mechanical assistance where certain sites allow, but the bulbs will still have to be planted by hand!”
The Chairman of Sidmouth Town Council, John Hollick, a Life Member of the SVA, (who fondly remembers cutting Keith’s hair some years ago), has said how much he “appreciates this project which will help to unite and strengthen our community in a common purpose”.
Handel added, “Keith Owen saw voluntary action as evidence of a community at peace with itself. The SVA, through Keith’s gift to the people of Sidmouth, has in the last 5 years provided many grants to local voluntary organisations totalling over £400,000! Today we are asking the local community to respond to this challenge, by volunteering to enhance our natural environment with additional colour. Once planted, we expect the results will be come evident in Spring 2014, but subsequent Springs should be better, as the bulbs multiply. Who knows, perhaps one day people will travel to see ‘a host of golden daffodils’, in the Valley of a Million Bulbs!” Many hands make light work! So why not come along and ensure an attractive and colourful spectacle of Sidmouth in Springtime. We hope it will fulfil Keith’s hope of an iconic spectacle to be enjoyed by both residents and visitors”.
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