Mark Rendell Garden Design Consultancy



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Outline Proposal: The ‘Walk a Quiet Path’ project in Southampton 2008
1. Aim / Intended Outcome:
To provide a practical and enjoyable local outdoor experience that emphasises and facilitates a spiritual connection between the landscape and visitor.

2. Objectives:

  • To create a Labyrinth feature (or several across the area).
  • To allow individuals to engage with their personal spiritual development in a safe and relaxing way.
  • To promote the work of the City Council’s open spaces officers, park rangers, horticultural organisations and Friends’ Groups within local communities.
  • To provide opportunities for local gardening groups and organisations to collaborate on an imaginative and inventive use of their local open space.

3. Summary of Activity:
Local ‘seedbed’ groups, comprised of people of all ages and abilities, including faith and community groups and spiritual networks, build a small number of labyrinths across the city for the benefit of the community as a whole in Spring / Summer 2008.

A square patch of reasonably level and grassy ground needs to be identified, minimum 20 m. x 20m., and easily accessible to the general public. Local Seedbed Groups will mark out the shape of the labyrinth (a seven circuit Cretan labyrinth) with sand or line marking spray and pegs and string. They will then use edging spades or ordinary spades to cut a slit along this line and then spade-width slits perpendicular to this line. They will then gently peel back the turf. The soil beneath is then gently forked and new organic matter added to create a small raised central area. Annual seeds or plug plants are then sown / planted along the centre of the gap between the turves and well watered. A short ceremony is then carried out to open the labyrinth and to mark the culmination of the activities of the Seedbed Groups. It’s then open and available for use.

Regular visits will need to be made by members of the seedbed groups to water and weed the area. It is not envisaged that there would be a significant vandalism risk as the feature is low profile and simply comprised of low-value annual plants that could be quickly replaced. The labyrinth is also not intended to be a permanent feature and can be ‘decommissioned’ at the end of the autumn period. The ground can then be brought back to the original condition, with a small closing event to mark its presence and impact, if necessary. Some mowing instructions for the central route and periphery may need to be negotiated within the Council’s Parks / Estates Department.

4. Timeframe:
Autumn: approach relevant authorities to identify potential sites and groups. Winter: publicise Labyrinth project in local and county media outlets, including mailouts via internet and other garden, horticultural, community and faith-based networks. Spring: participants attend a short Saturday morning workshop to learn more about labyrinths and the connection between the land and our spiritual nature. They also gain skills in marking out a labyrinth and how to create the margins that define the circuit pathway. This workshop can also create Local Seedbed Groups to look after each available site. Late Spring/early Summer: building labyrinths. End of year: decommission, if desired.

5. Costs: Workshop venue hire, tools, seeds / plants, organic materials, publicity materials, advertising / website development, speakers.

6. Organisation: In collaboration with Open Spaces Co-ordinators and local Friends’ groups: Mark Rendell, garden designer and trainer, the growing company, Southampton. 023 8023 3768 / 07780 920 653.