Category: Wonford In Bloom

Wonford Planters – update November 2017

This year we’ve made substantial improvements to the uncared for spaces around Wonford. Our current work includes the brick planters along Burnthouse Lane and the mini roundabout in Laburnum Road. We’ve also worked with the Wonford Surgery GPs to improve and enhance the surgery gardens and will soon begin work on the top corner of Kipling Drive. Large wildflower areas are now in place around the lower end of Burnthouse Lane and we have plans for more in 2018.

wonford planters


Funding from city and county ward grants have meant that we’ve been able to procure the services of the Community Payback teams to assist with some of the heavier work and they’ve also planted many spring bulbs around the area. We also work in conjunction with Wynstream Primary School who supplied compost and wood chip materials. Even the cat helped…

wonford planters

One of our main projects is the two spaces outside the One Stop shop and the Dolphin Fish & Chip shop. We’ve had a few quotes for repairs to the edges and installation of a low fence and are planning to submit a further bid for the funding to get the work done. Once the edges are repaired we can then plant up with suitable shrubs and spring bulbs.

This summer we entered the It’s Your Neighbourhood category of South West in Bloom and achieved a ‘Level 4; Thriving’ award, which is one step up from 2016.

And finally, a bit of history; during the 19th century, the West Quarter had become an impoverished slum area, with crowded and unhygienic accommodation. On 21 February 1928 a compulsory purchase order was made by Exeter City Council for 90 acres of farmland on either side of a lane in Wonford, which took its name, Burnthouse Lane, after a farmhouse that burnt to the ground one Saturday night. The estate was designed by city architect John Bennett and built with the ethos of the ‘Garden Suburb Movement’.

More recent times have seen our public green spaces falling into disrepair and becoming uncared for and unsightly. The aim of Wonford Planters is to make these spaces lovely again for the benefit of our community, thereby bringing the Garden City ethos back to Wonford!

wonford planters

Wonford Planters 2017

We started work again early this year, carrying on with the improvement on the Laburnum Road roundabout and once again the Exeter Police Cadets came to help us start the work off.
We’ll carry on with this; it will take some time as we’re still concentrating on getting the brambles, weeds and couch grass cleared out, whilst gradually putting in various plants from our own gardens or those that have been donated. We’re meeting lots of lovely people who walk through as we’re working. All say that they appreciate our work and efforts towards improvement to the area. We do intend to enter into South West in Bloom again this year but just the It’s Your Neighbourhood (IYN) category.

The other main focus is to carry on with the improvements on the two areas outside the One Stop shop and the Dolphin Chip Shop in Burnthouse Lane. Last summer five local guys cleared off the weeds and did a great job. This secured funding from Alcoa Howmet. We have drawn up a plan to make these areas look a lot better but needed to ascertain permission for these from Devon County Highways. This took several months.

We’re now looking at getting the edges repaired and to that extent would like to seek the assistance of a local builder to do us a quote for this work. Once that’s done we can move forward with getting those areas looking a lot better than they do now. We have drawn up some plans and would like to ask the students from Isca College to design and build some sort of structure for us. We have been in touch with the school about this since last year but to date haven’t received any news that anyone is interested in becoming involved.

If any Isca students read this and would like to make your local area outside these two shops looking a lot nicer then please get in touch with us via the Wonford in Bloom facebook page or call Jenny on 07910 847 097.

South West In Bloom

Wonford in Bloom, Exeter

South West in Bloom is supported by the Royal Horticultural Society and is one of eighteen regional/national competitions that make up Britain in Bloom, the biggest horticultural campaign in Europe. The aim of the communities that take part each year is to improve and regenerate local environments through landscaping, conservation and recycling projects.


Earlier this year I began volunteering with a local gardening group. When I joined we formally named ourselves ‘Wonford Planters’; Wonford being the area of Exeter in which we live; and I became the ‘Organiser’ of the group.


The estate where I live is partly social housing and partly owned. Cuts in public funding have resulted in areas of green spaces around the estate becoming overgrown and unsightly. Our aim is to bring the community together by gardening and improving these spaces for the benefit of Wonford residents. One of these areas is a mini-roundabout close to where I live. It had become extremely overgrown and overrun with brambles and nettles, generally not a nice space to look at but is one of the main routes for residents and dog-walkers from the estate to the valley fields below.


On the advice of our local Community Organiser, Sue, I contacted our local PCSO to enlist the help of the Exeter Community Police Cadets and on 2 April they came along to help begin the work.

wonford in bloom group photo


That got us off to a good start and we continued throughout May and June, working towards our South West in Bloom entry for Wonford. The roundabout would be one part of the route through the estate, encompassing the local school, children’s nursery and sheltered housing. Our ‘pièce de résistance’ was a local resident whose garden comprised of a selection of magnificent cacti……



Alcoa Howmet is an American engineering company and we have a depot in Exeter. Sue had advised me that Alcoa will provide community funding upon evidence of a suitable event, which requires five Aloca employees to participate in a voluntary exercise relevant to the funding application. I organised the event on a Saturday in June and this consisted of persuading five local guys to leave the safety of the local pub and clear off a space of weedy ground outside our local shop. It was an extremely fun morning, and a lot of hard work for them. They did an amazing job.


before the work began, group picture outside the One Stop Shop


after picture, group picture outside the One Stop Shop

Deed done, I duly completed the Silicon Valley Community Foundation application form and sent this off together with photos and a written statement. Being an American form it included having to agree to the ‘Compliance with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act’, and ‘Compliance with USA Patriot Act’! We were granted funds of just over £2,000.


Bloom Judging Day, 4 July


We’d worked as hard as we could to get the roundabout looking its best. The RHS judge was due at 2.30pm so the morning consisted of walking the judging route through the estate litter-picking on the way; including me jumping into the stream to retrieve a bike mudgard; poor Sue laughed so much she forgot to take a photo.

wonford roundabout with flowers and shrubs


Our judge, Michael Foy. Such a lovely chap, it was a hot day and he’d already been dragged around the rest of Exeter. By the time he reached he us was nearly done for and clearly not up to walking the route along Ludwell Valley that we’d planned. We cheered him up with a chauffeur-driven (me) tour of the area accompanied by lots of fun and laughter, finishing off with a pint and sandwiches at The Dolphin in Burnthouse Lane. He thoroughly enjoyed himself.

Royal Horticultural Society Judge with Staff member from the school



SW in Bloom Awards Event, Taunton Cricket Club, 6 October 2016


My colleague Andy Richards and I, receiving the Silver award for the Wonford Village entry, presented to us by Lord Julian Fellowes.

Andy Richards and Jenny Mitchelmore, accepting the Award from Lord Julian Fellowes

Our ‘In Your Neighbourhood’ entry as Wonford Planters achieved an ‘Advancing’ status. Our second local group; Wonford TLC (Together Let’s Communicate) is a group from Devon Partnership Trust, which is a NHS organisation that works closely with other health and social care providers across Devon to support the recovery of people with mental health needs. The group started meeting to share their craft skills and support each other in Recovery. They achieved an ‘Improving’ status.

Andy Richards and Jenny Mitchelmore, accepting the Award for the Wonford TLC group