Shoe Town: The rise of #Shoeplants

Dear fellow readers, it is with much joy that I can say we’ve survived the judging rounds of this years East Midlands and Britain in Bloom finals. Yes two rounds of judging. Hurrah!

Kardi and I outside The Garden Cafe. Trevor has planted this bed himself this year. Previous years it was just gravel. The solicitors and offices seem not to be interested but one day may be turned around to take pride in their frontage. (Photo credit: Sara Kennedy)

From humble beginnings last year, Kardi and I have managed to expand the theme through the town in 2018 and this year working with the high street via Northampton BID, the Town council via Councillor Anna King and Buddies of Beckets. You see that is only part of the joy. It is ok to get the recognition for the ‘brainchild’ but to see the community getting involved and working together is what it is all about.  Equipping, empowering, inclusion and involvement  are some of the most key words in any successful project.

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Some of the shoes during the first round of planting. Photo Kardi Somerfield

All of our shoes on display have been via public donations, friends and for the shop windows, from charity shops, where we have carefully selected pairs that we thought would be suited to the shop. We couldn’t give Montague Geoffrey a pair of stilettos for instance. Being a gentleman’s store, a pair of stylish mens shoes were far more fitting. Northampton bid has put together some great pictures on their Facebook page and they can be seen if you click on this link for shoeplants. Others can be seen be searching the hashtag #shoeplants on Instagram or Twitter.

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St Giles Street has an array of shoes. Ranging from the independent funeral directors, cafe’s, jewellers, pubs, gift shops and clothes, there is a vast selection. There are other businesses in the town centre also outside this ex High Street of the year. Down Angel Street, Steve from Yellow bourbon has a fitting pair of cherry red Dr Martins planted with Coffee plants. How apt! Have you done a shoe trail tour? It’s a great free activity to bring the children into town for. How many shoes can you find? I would love to see your pictures.

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Our gorgeous Sempervivums have come from mixed sources. Drought tolerant and adapted to filling small spaces they are perfect for the shoes. -Their common name is house leak as they were once used in olden days to fill gaps in roofs!- Some were sourced via British growers Kernock via my friends from Coton Manor, others from dutch auctions. Having a budget is sometimes hard but being in the trade allows me to buy at wholesale prices helping to keep our costs down.

Beckets Park Volunteers had a large amount of children’s shoes donated from Northamptonshires 1000 shoes project highlighting the need of foster carers in our county.  Many grace the children’s play area whilst adult shoes are attached to railings around Victoria Promenade.

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Back in my Street,  St Giles Terrace. We have been busy with the railings.  I say it’s my street even though I live in Wellingborough. My involvement with St Giles Church as a trustee deems me as that. Some would say its my way of doing church and an expression of faith and community works and if Jesus was a serious shoe planter, I would be very happy indeed.

Wedding shoes for the West door of St Giles Church

It hasn’t been easy. Urban wildlife has taken its toll on the plants this year, especially the green plant gobbler who has taken a shine to the green and larger sempervivums too. Kardi came up with the term urban wildlife as a positive spin on theft. As a horticulturist I deal with muntjac, rabbits and pheasants taking a swipe at the plants in the countryside gardens. To the green plant gobbler, I hope they grow where ever you plant them and in turn green up your neighborhood. We have managed to replant though from our determination and not to allow the broken window effect.

Handwriting the gift tags

Not ending to that very small negative issue, it’s been great to see people planting up their frontages too this year. A few properties along St Giles Terrace and Street respectively have done that. I like to think it is because of our efforts it has encouraged those to do the same. We will be looking at getting some planters for St Giles Terrace in the future too. Also plans to revamp the churchyard to a more inviting space are being considered. Exciting times ahead!

New planters have appeared this year. Don’t they look fab!

So will 2019 bring another round of #shoeplants? Well that we’ll have to see. Whatever the results of the towns entry into the competition, I what to say thank you to everyone who has helped me turn this brainchild of mine to what it is today. Also to all of those individually and collectively working on their community entries in the competition: A huge well done. Thankyou for your time you give to your community to help green up grey Britain!

A view from Kardi’s front garden. The winter storms uproots the Rhus and damaged the Laurus but with careful pruning the Laurus is recovering nicely. Previously overgrown it was once used a public toilet.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Alice May says:

    My home town too! Pretty in places, with a Stephen King vibe. I lived by the racecourse.. Excellent work, sir!


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