The Sunken Garden Society’s Eco Gathering day on Sunday (October 3) attracted residents and first time visitors to the garden in Westbrook.
The wild weather calmed down, the sun came out, and a rainbow offered its reward at the end of the day.
As an added gift, renowned artist Louis Masai created and donated an amazing bumblebee work of art to the Society and it also kicked off its new crowdfunder.
The Eco Gathering day included a number of conservation, nature and ecology focused groups and organisations hosting discussion, learning and interaction around the main festival themes.
A series of public talks took place in an on-site marquee, alongside family activities centred around local ecology. A variety of stallholders shared information about their work, signing up members, selling wares and inviting people to check out the ‘eco-village’ on the surrounding green
Guest speakers were all experts on ecology with Donna Richardson of the Enchanted Gardens (Whitstable), Emma Lansdell from the garden’s long term supporter the BumbleBee Conservation Trust, green infrastructure professional Dusty Gedge and Nik Mitchell of Wildlife Conservation in Thanet.
There were some exquisite exhibits from the Thanet Coastal Project, Magnificent Moths/Butterfly Conservation showcasing some of their finds, a Bee Walk from the BumbleBee Trust and Sunken Safari from the Sunken Garden Society’s Peter Hasted and Sue Finch.
An event spokesperson said: “The feedback was that the stall holders were a truly fascinating group of people, with many of them drawing inspiration from each other as well. “There were activities for children and adults alike, with the Sunken Garden Society offering a variety of seeds to be scooped into packets with the new Molly Pickle’s society logo design.”
Stall holders included: the Sunken Garden Society, the RSPB, Butterfly Conservation, the Kent Wildlife Trust, the Thanet Coastal Project, Windmill Community Gardens plus permaculture from associate Helen Smith, Plover Rover, Wildlife Conservation in Thanet and the Margate Rotary Club.
The Margate NOW’s Sunken Ecologies festival added Sadie Hennessy’s ‘All that Glistens’ mysterious rock formation to the other artworks on display.
These were Olu Ogunnaike’s ‘nesting’ bench, Lindsey Mendick’s ‘Rotten to the Core’ compost bin, Nicholas Deshayes ‘Mermaid Cafe’, Molly Pickle’s new Sunken Garden sign (painted by Gary Wells) and terrazzo tiles from Open School East associates.
Peter Hasted (pictured above) said the day was “fantastic,” adding: “The break in the bad weather was perfectly timed. There was lots of networking between the community and industry professionals and it was a very successful and fun day.
“Huge thanks to Margate Now art festival for facilitating the day and guest curator Anna Colin for her dedication to Sunken Ecologies.
“It was also great to have Thanet Coast Project join us with some exquisite exhibits of our local marine ecology.”
Nik Mitchell also enjoyed the day and said: “We attended the eco gathering and showcased what “Wildlife Conservation in Thanet” is all about.
“Elliot, Alex and I spent the day talking to people about the habitat and wildlife in Thanet.
We also showed our projects and offered people advice on what they can do to help wildlife.
“We engaged with lots of people and spread the word of all things wild in Thanet. The gathering was a great success and was a unique opportunity to engage with people and share the love for Thanet’s wildlife.”
Dusty Gedge added: “It was great to return to the gardens after 40 years absence and to connect with others involved in biodiversity in Kent. I would hope that my talk my generate interest in green roofs locally in Thanet but also at a Kent County Council level.”
The Sunken Garden was designed and landscaped in the 1930s and is cared for by the Sunken Garden Society,
The society took on the management of the site in 2018 to enhance its benefits for both wildlife and people, following a long period of neglect and disrepair. The garden now provides a rich and colourful haven for bees, butterflies, moths, birds and many other species and is a popular spot with visitors who enjoy the floral displays and use the space for recreation, relaxation, and inspiration.
The group’s crowdfunder aims to raise £3,500 for further restoration at the site including restoring the broken stone edging around the sunken grass ‘pools’ and replacing missing benches on the lower tier.
Over the last 30-plus years the stonework around the sunken grass ‘pools’ in the garden has suffered vandalism and wear and tear.
Original benches have been removed and not replaced leaving only a few seats from which to enjoy this peaceful green space.