Joy in geraniums

Ros Kane on how a simple pot of flowers is bringing joy to a Leytonstone street

I was getting fed up with the lack of beautiful front gardens where I live in south Leytonstone. I don’t cycle or drive, so spend a fair amount of time walking round back streets. Some other parts of the borough have gardens which bring a smile to my face.

I’d long had the fantasy of a cheerful, resilient geranium at the front of every house. But you know how it is – you do nothing about an idea, then one day find yourself doing what’s needed and it’s quite simple after all!

Via the News from Nowhere Club, last year we received a £500 ‘Make It Local’ grant from Waltham Forest Council to add beauty and foster fellowship in the local community. We bought a terracotta pot and a red, pink or white geranium for every home with a deep enough windowsill – which amounted to 86 out of 112 houses in the street.

Matcham Road is a bit more beautiful now. Most geraniums survived the winter, with new leaves and flowers appearing. A few disappeared. Others were knocked over when the wheelie bins were emptied; we replaced them. Some people added more pots. Nearly everyone seems happy for us to go round watering, feeding and dead-heading their plants. It must be admitted that most neighbours don’t seem to look after their geraniums, so it’s a bit of work to keep them all in the best condition, but rewarding and relaxing after hours in front of a computer! We’ve also met more of our neighbours – several thanked us. A young man questioned why we were doing it for nothing; an elderly man even offered to pay us.

We now have time to think how else the street can be beautified. It’s hard to improve the world in significant ways; we struggle with campaigns which often aren’t won. In the meantime, the geranium project makes at least a bit of difference. Can you imagine it in your street?