Harwich station garden had an amazing ‘make over’ in five weeks from the project start date 29th May 2014 until the last week of June 2014 when the plants were put in. The garden has continued to blossom and grow over the past year.

Essex South Suffolk CRP (ESSCRP) was approached by two local people Sue and Georgeta who were interested in becoming station adopters at Harwich station. Their aim was to clear the weeds and rubbish from the station garden and plant it up to improve the appearance of the station to make it much more welcoming for train travellers and locals alike. They also wanted to plant up the tubs already at the station.

Plan of action and resources

The plan was to clear the garden and decide what would be the best plants and shrubs for the ground to keep the ongoing garden maintenance to a minimum and plants that were hardy enough to survive with minimal watering.

Sue and Georgeta set about this task and enrolled local people as volunteers to help out, including the adopter from nearby Dovercourt station, local residents and volunteers from friends of the Earth.

Sue and Georgeta had a clear own vision for what they wanted to achieve and used their own and others ideas to create the wonderful garden we have today.

The work started with the clearing of the garden which was a mammoth task as there was a lot of rubble, ironwork and rubbish; it was cleared methodically and the volunteers took the rubbish themselves to the local skip. Once the garden was cleared a membrane was put down to keep the weeds at bay and bark was put on the membrane.

As the funding was limited the adopters were creative and placed an article in the Harwich and Manningtree Standard asking people to donate plants for the station garden. There was an amazing response and the majority of the plants were donated by the public and volunteers. 

Difficulties and partnerships

There were minimal difficulties! Some people said it was an impossible task as the area hadn’t been touched for many years. However, Sue and Georgeta were so determined that this would work that their ‘can do’ approach motivated themselves and all volunteers. It worked because the local community was involved and was a great partnership that included the local residents association. As the garden was transformed so quickly everyone could see the results immediately this was a real bonus and motivated everyone to keep going. The other difficulty was water, however, the Mayflower project that are at the station provided water for the garden.


The key objective was to transform the station garden and make it a lovely place to pass by and look at. This was fully achieved. The garden has remained low maintenance, the adopters continue to work together to keep it looking great and there continues to be volunteers who are willing to help out at any time.

Quotes from the public and the adopters include:

‘The garden looks fab’

‘I cannot believe myself what we all did, at a time when many where sceptics! They should eat their hat for dinner’,

'awesome achievement'

'the garden looks great,

‘no one thought that it will be achievable, given the state of that piece of neglected  land, it was untouched for more a 15 years'  - 'you  beat all the odds'