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Volunteers forced to dig up flowers in Faversham memorial garden

By Joe Wright

Volunteers who have devoted seven years to maintaining a memorial garden have been forced to dig it up – just days before Remembrance Sunday.

The group looking after the space in Stone Street, Faversham was told to remove the much-loved flower displays by the council.

The beds will be filled with hundreds of mini crosses leading up to Remembrance Sunday, but the project is only temporary with the future of the garden is shrouded in doubt.

The flowers in Stone Street memorial, Faversham have been removed
The flowers in Stone Street memorial, Faversham have been removed

Proposals to transform the site have been circulating for years and, despite an application being refused by planning chiefs last year, another bid to redesign the site has now been agreed.

Spearheaded by the War Memorial Project Group, plans to restructure the garden are expected to be revealed in the coming days but Ros Young, one of the volunteers who looks after the public spot, says they have been unfairly left in the dark.

“We have not seen these plans which have been agreed,” she said. “The decision should be up to the people Faversham – we don’t want to see the bulldozers come in.

“All we really want is to simply see the proposals.

“It was sad to take out the flowers and plants that we have been looking after for years.”

The garden as it looks now
The garden as it looks now

Once a neglected dark space, the gardeners transformed the space into a vibrant display with trees, flowers and plants, including edible ones.

Passers-by would often stop, chat to the volunteers and pick up a punnet of raspberries or blackcurrants.

Another group member who has looked after the garden but did not give her name said: “Before we started looking after the garden it was in a terrible state.

“Every Sunday we meet up and tidy it up – it is a simple garden which is much-loved and accessible for everyone. Most people in the town don’t want any changes.”

The removed flowers will now be replanted throughout the town, with cuttings going to the Abbey Physic Garden.

The committee in the memorial garden
The committee in the memorial garden

The council says the flowers were taken out to make room for a big display of crosses in the soil.

A Swale Borough Council spokesman said: “The British Legion need more space in the garden as they are putting on a bigger showcase than usual this year.

“One hundred crosses are going to be placed into the ground each day in the run-up to Sunday – that is why the flowers were removed.

“After the revamp, we would be more than happy to work with the volunteers. It is always handy to have many pairs of hands that can help maintain the garden.”

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