I first met Becky Twigg, Director of the Secret Garden when I interviewed her for Sarum Radio in July 2017.
She has kindly brought her story up to date for Her Salisbury Story.
“I am an organic gardener with a passion for the natural world and ‘The Secret Garden’ has always been an inspiring story to me. Exploration outside is absolutely in my heart, there is something magical about immersing yourself in nature and I think lots of children experience the outdoor world through imagination in this way. Most adults agree that our most pleasant experiences and memories are related to exploring outdoors and this cements a life-long love affair with it and I personally think these interactions shape our values and abilities to manage in an ever changing world too.
“Our imaginations run wild when we are left alone to explore as children and as adults we shouldn’t have to stop doing that, so I always wanted to open a wild space for the community with this in mind.
“I decided to ask Salisbury Council if they had any green spaces that weren’t being used and I put together a brief proposal of my idea. I said: ‘would you mind if I started to explore some green spaces?’ They obliged me which was really good and we looked at a few spaces. None of them really caught me straightaway. I gave up hope a little bit until Councillor Margaret Wilmot said ‘well there is one space you might want to look at – it’s an old churchyard’. I instantly said: ‘please show where it is!’ I couldn’t believe that it was so central, right in the centre of Salisbury. Tranquillity in the middle of a city, reinforcing the ‘secret garden’ idea.
“From there I set up a constituted C.I.C not for profit with a team of directors and this enabled us to fund raise and so on.
“Running this project is an exploration, we move and shift according to hidden stones and old fragments of the church site – the team of directors and volunteers are discovering things all the time. In addition to the array of wildlife that occupy the space, we come across historical items from when St Clements Church was taken down in 1852. An archaeologist, Steve Webster, came on board a little later and wanted to explore the site as well. Steve is now one of our director team and gives talks about the site history, on our fund-raising open days and I cover all the plants for wildlife stuff. Together with Paul our other director, his interest in invertebrates and our volunteer team, we have a great project that is truly unique.
“I have tried to strike a balance between this old charming space, with grave stones in it and wildlife everywhere, and a place that people from the city can also come to enjoy; so I weave loose pathways between the plants and have little nooks for seats and peaceful reflection. It is less of a traditional ‘garden’ and more of a ‘historical rambling wildlife space’ but it truly does charm the socks off people when they come in and leaves them feeling they have pressed the re-set button!! I love reflecting back on our events on our Facebook page photo gallery to remind me how far we have come and just how many events and initiatives we have achieved.”
In November 2017 Becky picked up a DEFRA award for the Salisbury Bee Trail project and she has now started a new community garden at Five Rivers Health and Well-being Centre and an additional ‘green space kick start’ scheme for those wanting to take on a patch of ground themselves.