STONEHOUSE in Bloom volunteers have been working hard on a project to transform a small piece of land behind Stonehouse High Street into a community garden that can be enjoyed by everyone.

In partnership with Stonehouse Town Council, Stonehouse in Bloom won £16,800 in grants from the Barnwood Trust and Gloucestershire County Council to create new paths and seating areas, install new fencing and an entrance arch, as well as increasing the flower borders, planting trees and putting in new raised planters.

The hard landscaping, which was carried out by local contractor Dave Smart Fencing & Landscaping, is now complete, and the new fencing and entrance arch, which has been designed and made by Valley Forge, will be in situ by the end of August.

Since lockdown restrictions were lifted in May, volunteers have worked 236 socially distanced hours on the project – determined to finish the Old Chapel Garden before the winter.

They have moved and spread more than 10 tonnes of top soil by hand to level and prepare the site for re-seeding; a new flower border has been created; and the site has been cleared of weeds and stones.

Six trees and a bench have been donated by local residents in memory of loved ones and will be in place by the autumn.

Stonehouse mayor Neil Gibbs said: “Stonehouse in Bloom volunteers have worked incredibly hard on this project over the summer. They have been holding socially distanced working parties twice a week for a couple of months now.

“We hope the RHS judges will be impressed with the change when they come to Stonehouse next summer.”

Feedback from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. Caroline Wynn from Wynn’s Café in Stonehouse High Street said: “Wynn’s are so pleased that The Old Chapel Garden has been given the care and attention it deserves.

"The garden is one of the most peaceful and underrated beauty spots of Stonehouse and it is a genuine joy to see it come to life. We are excited to be able to share it with the community.”

Stonehouse in Bloom has won Gold in the last three consecutive years of the Heart of England in Bloom competition and topped the Best Small Town category in 2018 and 2019.

They won a place in Britain in Bloom 2020 and this has been carried over to next year after the national final was cancel due to COVID-19.

Stonehouse has been consistently outstanding in the community section of the judging criteria. The judges have been unfailingly impressed by the way the town works together.