Community champ Shirley's Petit Plot is a big big winner

Torbay Weekly

Shirley Holbrook is just blooming marvellous.

That's the verdict of everybody who knows green-fingered, community champion Shirley  including the judges from the South West in Bloom competition.

They visited Babbacombe and St Marychurch and included in the local ‘Neighbourhood Group’ category was a mall tucked away community garden, just off Hartop Road.

The ‘Petit Plot’ belongs to Shirley. She has been financing it over recent years, seeking donations where she can. This year, after she received new offers of assistance, including help Linda Dennis of the Babbacombe Bay Bloomers, she has brought the plot back to life, with fence painting, bird boxes and feeders, floral planters, new signs and a small pond. Linda said: "A gentleman who was sat on the bench recently said he goes there to sit when he struggles to cope with life and it makes him feel better.

"The judges really enjoyed meeting Shirley and having afternoon tea with her in the Plot"

Ten years ago, Torbay Council was starting to dispose of small parcels of  unused land and It was proposed that the waste land at the side of the allotments, at the back of  Hartop Road, be sold to a local developer for garages.

But the a community association was formed and a Right of Way application made. Torbay Council was in favour with the proviso that the  land be leased to a member of the association and made into a community facility.

Shirley took on the lease in 2012 and the association members worked hard to clear the ground, sow the lawn and build fences. .

Seating was added, decking erected and flowering shrubs planted, so the garden could be used for community activities.

Over the years however many members have become elderly or moved away and for the past couple of years just two of the original volunteers have been managing the area.

This year help has been offered from the Babbacombe Bay Bloomers volunteers.  There has been a new program of planting, painting and adding more features to encourage wildlife.

Linda says: "There are many unsung wonderful local people out there.  After the judging this week, someone popped a £10 note Shirley's letter box towards her costs. It made her day."

The In Bloom judges this year were ‘Terry Porter’ and ‘Camilla Bassett-Smith’, who is a producer on gardening programs and TV Horticulturalist. Results for all the Torbay Groups will be announced on October 7.