Park strategy gets favourable reaction

Last updated 09:50 14/08/2014
KEP Stratford
Catherine Groenestein
Michael Forbes and Lance Robison from Downer Stratford at work in King Edward Park, Stratford.

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Stratford's public gardens are looking extra spic and span, thanks to a dedicated gardening team.

Several weeks ago, Downer Stratford, which is contracted by the Stratford District Council to care for the district's parks and gardens, changed the way the parks are managed. Instead of a team of workers sharing the gardening work, one dedicated gardener took on the role, said Stratford maintenance manager Rob Sharp.

It hasn't taken long for the community to notice, from comments made at a recent council meeting, to people walking their dogs in the park who tell the gardeners how good it is looking.

"We've had very good comments, a lot of people are saying how nice the gardens are looking," said council property assets manager Vicki Jagersma.

Gardener Michael Forbes, who was being assisted last week by Lance Robison, looks after all the gardens on Broadway, as well as King Edward Park. Recently the pair were working their way around the perennial beds in the rhododendron dell, tidying the edges and removing weeds, leaving the beds looking very tidy and cared for.

Michael said gardening was in his DNA, as he remembered ducking around his grandmother's hanging baskets as a child, and learning how to grow vegetables and also about Maori medicinal plants. He grows vegetables at home and also works in the marae garden.

He said he was enjoying the job immensely, both for the lovely surroundings and the encouraging comments he received from people walking by.

"We're creating that sense of excellence there in the gardens. It's not just us doing the gardens though, we're part of the open spaces maintenance crew, and the guys who mow the grass and clean up the rubbish, we all help keep it spic and span," he said.

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