Gardening Against The Odds 2012. The winner and runners-up

The 2012 awards

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THE WINNER

SAJEDA KADIR is this year’s winner of the Gardening Against The Odds awards.

Sajeda runs a community food growing project at West End Sidings in Kilburn, set up by Groundwork London.

Groundwork’s Jessica Robinson, who nominated her, explains,“

“There is little open space on the estate, but in spite of this, when we offered to support residents to run a food growing project here, Sajeda enthusiastically took up the mantle. Sajeda is Bangladeshi and moved to the UK several years ago. She cares for her disabled child at home, so finds little time to get out. The project here, offered on her doorstep, through something over which (we found out!) she is very talented, was the perfect opportunity for her to get out the house, do something creative, socialise more with her neighbours and provide food and herbs for her family and friends.

“In her quiet, creative and passionate way, she is leading the drive to enhance and create quality open space, biodiversity and amenity value on a very built up area of central London."

 

 THE RUNNERS-UP

St Mungo’s, London

Syas Jonathan Trustram, who nominated St Mungo’s for Gardening Against The Odds,

“Putting Down Roots, St Mungo's gardening project, has been working at St John's churchyard in Waterloo for the last ten years. For our volunteers, who have all experienced homelessness, there is constant hard work. As well as all the problems of an inner city site which has for more than a hundred years been a centre for street drinking and rough sleeping, we now also have to cope with the mess of success: litter bins overflowing with the packaging of hundreds of lunchtime picnics.  Beginning on one side of the church with a parterre constructed with box hedging we have gradually moved around to take over the whole of the churchyard. Some areas of shrubs and roses we have improved simply by not subjecting them to the ruthless local authority pruning regime. Our pyracanthas now shelter a small, rare group of sparrows. Most of the gardens are new. We have a dry garden which is full of colour from Coronilla glauca, dwarf irises and tulips of spring to the zauschnerias in the autumn. Eryngium giganteum and Eryngium bourgatii self seed prolifically. Using sand and builder's rubble we were able to make a highly unusual dry garden  cheaply and simply. 

”I like to think that there is a connection between the diversity of plants and of people in the churchyard: complex and contrasting, their interactions are not always harmonious but still they learn to get along and often spark together creatively.”

 

Niki Preston

Niki’s mother in law Margaret Preston and her friend Sue Molloy nominated her for Gardening Against The Odds. Here Margaret  explains why,

“Five years ago, with a smile like a ray of sunshine to brighten any day, a little lady came into our lives. Niki was soon to become our daughter-in-law, and two years ago, to our delight, she and our son became our next door neighbours.  Until then Niki had very little interest in gardening, apart from keeping her window box looking attractive and the back garden tidy. However, upon her move things began to change.  She discovered the delights of garden centres, and also that I was able to sew. This meant that I could adapt gardening gloves so she could get to work, as Niki had been born with no fore-arms and just a middle and ring finger on her right arm. Nature had intended her to be left-handed, so along with bone problems, life has been a struggle for her - but no one would ever guess. 

”The garden of the house next door had been arranged for very low maintenance.  Niki soon changed that.  Unable to bend easily, she decided that she would garden at waist height and large raised troughs began to appear at regular intervals along her borders with pots for accents of colour. It wasn't long before a potting shed arrived along with assorted seed trays, pots and compost, and all home comforts. With her wind-up radio for company, Niki soon showed that she could sow seeds and was delighted watching the first signs of life in her seed trays. She managed to transplant the tiniest of seedlings so neatly with her gloved two fingers; nothing was too much of a challenge, and before long the rather sombre garden was alive with colour. 

”A greenhouse appeared and was soon full to bursting point with tomato plants, cucumbers and peppers. Raised troughs for growing vegetables were a success, and her crowning moment of glory came on Christmas Day when she treated the whole family to new potatoes grown in a plastic bag. 

”This is surely a perfect example of gardening against the odds, and my husband and I think that for her sheer grit and determination to beat her disability to make a garden of pleasure, Niki should be considered for the award this year.”