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Herbs meet history – two new gardens at The Park

Filwood Chase History Society member Jim Smith working on the Dig for Victory garden at The Park.
Filwood Chase History Society member Jim Smith working on the Dig for Victory garden at The Park.

Story and picture by Community Reporter Helen Prince

A local group has created two historic gardens right in the heart of Knowle West.

Members of Filwood Chase History Society are planting a ‘Dig for Victory Garden’ – as well as growing plants inspired by ancient medicinal healing.

Jim Smith, who was recently named Filwood’s official Tree Champion, is continuing to share his knowledge of nature by developing the two new gardens at The Park Centre in Daventry Road.

His ‘Dig for Victory’ garden situated behind The Park café is inspired by the vegetable patches grown in the Second World War to help aid food supplies.

Home grown food was highly encouraged – with even local parks and football pitches transformed into vegetable patches.

Jim says: “We do still remember the war, but we  forget about the privation people went through and by having this Dig for Victory Garden, and explaining why it’s here, will remind people of the hardship others in the past went through.”

So far, the garden includes strawberries, cabbage and potatoes, as well as mint, tomatoes and rhubarb – and he hopes to introduce leeks and turnips later in the year.

Jim says anyone is welcome to help themselves to the produce. If there is surplus food it will be sold at the centre’s reception – with all proceeds going back into The Park.

Also being developed is a medicinal herb garden. The outside space by the History Society’s office is overgrown, so members are starting to transform the area into a herb patch reminiscent of ancient practices.

Plants included so far include hypericum, which can be used for depression, angelica which can be a remedy for coughs and colds and rosemary which can help relieve anxiety and boost the immune system.

Jim says: “For thousands of years and even further back from that, man has used plants to cure his ills…Plants have historically been used for medicine and of course for flavouring…”

Once the garden is finished, the History Society plans to open the patch to any local people who wish to learn about the plants, including groups and schools.

Chair of the History Society, Ivor Grimsted says: “We want to show the plants used from over the years – from way back in Roman times – for cooking and medication which links to our research. We will be putting display boards about the plants around the walls to describe what they were used for.”

The gardens are based at The Park Centre in Daventry Road, Knowle. For more information or to join Filwood Chase History Society contact Ivor on 0785 676 9285 or email