Three generations of one family tell us about life in Gardenia.
I’m Ray and I’m a retired resident of Gardenia.
About nine years ago, my son Howard bought a home here. At the time, I’d just retired and was planning a move to Spain. However, things didn’t quite work out and Howard offered up his garden room to me.
I didn’t really know much about the whole garden city thing and at first I wasn’t sure I’d accept the offer. I was worried I’d be stuck out on the edge of the country with not much to do. However, I have to admit I was very wrong.
I lived with Howard and my granddaughter, Anna, for a couple of years and whilst the garden room was very comfortable, I made the decision to move to Gardenia’s retirement village. Howard was working from home a lot more and I thought he needed the office space.
In my day, retirement villages always meant winding down – but I can honestly say I’m now more active and involved in the community than ever before.
When I first moved in, I signed up to a local bee keeping course I saw advertised over at the community hub. I now volunteer at the city farm opposite, looking after their hives. It’s nice to be able to spend time with the kids from my granddaughter’s school, who are over regularly helping with planting.
In a couple of months I’ll be starting my summer evening garden fragrance tours back up – they’ve been popular with local mental health charity.Gardenia became plastic free a few years ago and I offered my expertise from my old accountancy days to help set up a business producing starch based alternatives grown in the linear garden.
That led to me attending the stewardship meetings. Up for discussion this month is the proposed community owned wind turbine for the northern gateway. There’s also plans for rewilding some of the land to the north as well. Species counts in Gardenia have been bucking national trends, with the numbers of insects, birds and mammals right up. That’s all thanks to the community’s habitat initiatives.
In the nine years I’ve been living here, things have evolved. There are less cars on the road. Year on year, the Air Quality Data Commission identifies Gardenia as one of the healthiest urban areas to live in the UK. As a community we’re very proud of that.
We’re also seeing tourists flocking to our annual cherry blossom festival – it’s even attracting visitors from Japan now which is fantastic.
For now, I’m eagerly awaiting Gardenia’s first ever fish harvest from the new aquaponics centre. What an achievement that will be!
Initially a sceptic, Ray’s realised that garden city living is just about looking after the local environment and therefore investing in his family’s future.