Gardening: Budget cuts but Forbury still a pictureBy Linda Fort
June 29, 2012
When Forbury Gardens was restored with a massive lottery grant and the new tea kiosk installed I became green with envy.
How I wished I could step out of my office on a sunny day and have my lunch in Forbury Gardens – what could be more delightful?
In those days I worked through every lunch hour and dreamed of release.
Nowadays, because I cover Crown Court at least once a week, I can join that happy band of workers who can take their sandwiches into the gardens.
And we are all extraordinarily lucky to see the gardens looking so charming and well-kept when the parks budget, like so many others, has been badly hit by cuts.
Everyone who mows their own lawn will have noticed the grass verges throughout the town are now being cut half as often – five times instead of 10 times a year – and you can see it is not enough to keep the borough looking spick and span.
But, when faced with a cut in the budget for chopping verges compared with caring for the elderly, disabled or children at risk, no one can argue that the verges are more important.
At the moment, the council is still able to keep Forbury Gardens and Caversham Court looking beautiful and we should all be glad there is still enough money – for now – to do that. I had a chat with two parks employees about the care and upkeep of the gardens and verges recently. One was sad he could not feel proud this year when he went around the borough because of the state of the verges.
The other was fiercely proud of what had already been achieved, talking about telling his children about avenues of trees he had planted which would be there when he was old.
Despite all the cuts, a budget was set aside for tree-planting two years ago and that has been preserved.
There has been a rolling programme of tree-planting right across the borough, sustained by volunteer tree wardens.
And Reading’s council tenants have made a massive contribution – through their rents – by paying for the planting of swathes of spring bulbs right across the borough to delight everyone who sees them.
The Reading in Bloom committee has also done its bit, with the hanging baskets on Reading’s two bridges for the last three years, the newly-planted horse trough in St Mary’s Butts, and the new hanging baskets all around Reading Minister.
The latest planting has been done by a local garden centre which is too modest to seek publicity but whose efforts are being enjoyed by everyone. The Britain in Bloom judges will be coming to Reading on the inauspicious date of Friday, July 13, and green fingers are being crossed that one of the five verge mowings can be completed shortly before their visit.
Reading in Bloom
There is still time to enter the local Reading in Bloom competition.
The parks department is working flat out to keep the borough beautiful in hard times.
It is up to everyone else to do their bit to make the borough beautiful too. You can download an entry form here