The gift of a garden

A garden and life transformed

Lydia enjoys her new garden

By Lydia Odelana

My friend Saray Dola Esteves Garcia believes that London, as a cosmopolitan city, is blessed with many gardens and that this is an advantage we should cherish. But lots of people don’t have the time, financial means or strength to transform their own garden – that’s why Saray has decided to help others.

I’m 81 years old, and I’ve lived in Ferry Lane for 23 years. I told Saray about my dream garden in February, then lockdown happened in March. During the lockdown period, Saray transformed her own garden and then her friend’s one, before doing mine.

Saray has always transformed her own gardens because she likes keeping fit and enjoying the outdoors. She gifted me with my new garden because she wanted me to enjoy fresh air, the sun, the birds and to be able to grow some vegetables.

Before the transformation my garden was not a garden. It was overcrowded with trees, dead branches and overgrown with weeds. The patio was a tripping hazard with uneven slabs. Now it is a lovely, low maintenance garden with different areas I can enjoy. It has a lawn, a flower bed, a rose patch, a vegetable raised bed and I can sit on the patio without being scared of tripping.

Saray said: “I have always loved gardening having been involved with my father’s cocoa farm in my formative years. I enjoy planting and nurturing vegetables and flowers.

“Lydia’s garden needed resurrecting.”

What an unmerited favour Saray has given me! When I’m outside I feel very comfortable and I’m happy that I can spend time having tea in the garden with my family and friends.

Saray wants to bless old and vulnerable people within the borough, who cannot care for their gardens, and is now seeking funding.

Many elderly and disabled residents have a good deal of garden space but no one to tend it for them so that they can enjoy it. Saray would like to help with this, and she is asking other elderly people if they would like to have their gardens transformed.

The garden before the transformation

Saray will set up a charity and ask not only for funds but also for local donations such as second hand stones, slabs, wood, surplus building materials and garden plants from local businesses. She wants to make her project as environmentally friendly as possible by recycling, upcycling and decreasing landfill usage. Saray is hoping that gardening and landscaping students will help, which can benefit them in creating their portfolios. She also welcomes any help from local residents, who, like her, love gardening and keeping fit.

Saray’s gardening project will make a difference to Tottenham residents by providing the elderly with private space to enjoy the outdoors

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