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Exteriors, Lifestyle

Me, My Spade and I

The Healing Vibes Of Neve's Garden


It’s not very often you get to truly know you have been part of something extremely special, well I am writing to you about the coming together of a community for a family that were in need of help, compassion and love...

Neves’s garden was a concept the last time I wrote about it here in OX Magazine, 6 months later the concept was brought to life by a group of people, family, loved ones and strangers, all wanting to help bring a design to life.

I had simply sketched out the garden after a conversation with Neves parents, I went on to draw out the garden properly which still on paper it was hard to show exactly what I wanted to build, with the trust of Paul, Mary and Didcot Girls School, we received permission to build, and the shovel went on to break ground shortly after.

The Garden itself was a simple design, a path from the Tennis court leading to a circular hard standing area with a stunning Cherry tree planted in the Binding Gravel, the idea was this is the circle of life, somewhere Neve can live on, a place to come and study under the shade of a large Cherry tree, a place to sit and reflect, to walk continuously in a circle around the tree and bench where you can talk about life, issue you may be having, or for you to just enjoy friends company.

From what Mary and Paul tell me, Neve was the most caring person you could ever wish to meet, this sits true with me as I have met the family, they are all amazing who are ready to help anyone at the drop of a hat!!

The idea of the garden was to reflect Neve’s personality, a caring young woman who loved life, a garden full of colour, insects buzzing around the many plants providing nourishment, sunflowers and daffodils bringing the yellow colour Neve loved to life, somewhere that would be vibrant and happy for all to enjoy.

Mary once told me that Neve was a young woman that ran towards those in need of help, instead of shying away from difficult situations she would help the person that was crying or hurt, well if this garden helps one person in the way Neve would have then I couldn’t ask for anything more, I have been taught a lesson by a young lady I never had the opportunity to meet and therefore she is still helping people grow….. even a slightly rotund 42 year old man! (that’s me if you were wondering)

I feel we have managed to reflect Neves personality in the garden we have created, the flower beds that flank one half of the circle will be stunning to see in full flight, the amphitheatre will be used for school photos, the Buddleias on the back side of the bank will bring insects and are a touch of Paul’s Memory for Neve, Paul sees them often at work and it reminds him daily of his beloved daughter, the thousands of bulbs plants along the path, in the flower beds and in the back side of the amphitheatre, Neve’s Garden will be an amazing place to spend your lunch time break……

The best part of the garden for me personally was seeing it all come together, we were given free Machinery hire from Didcot Plant, waste removal was free of charge along with tens of tons worth of Materials from Grundons, we had installed some metal edging, a product that is installed around paths in parks such as Hyde Park in London or the museums and universities in oxford, this is a high end product fitted to perfection by Stuart Howard of Howard engineering, the show piece of the circle, the pink blossom cherry tree was also provided Steve Moul of Valley Plants, Babylon Nurseries provided all of the plants for very little cost, finally Smiths of Bletchingdon provided the Binding Gravel for the paths. Having worked in this industry for some time now, never have I seen such generosity, these companies really didn’t have to be so kind, but they did, for that they need to be acknowledged, thank you so much for all your help!

Last of all, for me, the most special part of this was seeing the friends and family turn up in droves, never has a project gone so easily and so quickly, so many hands were available that you blinked, and another job had been completed!!

Didcot Rugby Club helped with the fencing off the garden, they also started to dig by marking out the edges of the build with spades, the digger work was completed by Sam Lacy and Paul Atkinson, Paul, Mary, Lewis and Stuart help throughout all the process and then the last part of the garden build was for me, the most special.

I walked round the corner of the Girls School expecting to start the planting process with the gang only to find over 30 people ready for action, this left me a little panicked, I am used to working with 8/10 people not 30. It was so overwhelming, planting of bulbs was the best place to start, Paul got the gaggle moving whilst I set out plants, with the plants in place people started to migrate towards them, as I stood back I actually shed a tear, I obviously tried to hide this but was caught red handed by my other half, I was so overwhelmed, it was just beautiful to watch.

With that, the garden was completed, it has been the most amazing and meaningful project I have ever been part of, truly once in a lifetime and I must thank Paul, Mary and Lewis for thinking of me, I was very touched by being asked to help but I didn’t realise how much more was to come.

I look back now with welling up eyes as I think of this time fondly and feel the garden will bring happiness, joy and healing to all those in need, mainly though, I hope it brings the healing vibes that the family needs, seeing Paul like a man on a mission, Mary surrounded by love from friends and family and lastly, I could see relief on Lewis’s face seeing his mum and dad healing in front of him.

I think Neves Garden is already working its magic!


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