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Caring for God's Creation


We are so lucky at St John's to have such a wide range of habitat spaces within our grounds, and all of these areas are beneficial to an equally wide range of consumers!

For our Flower Team we have a range of well-established shrubs that are used in displays.  For example, both yew and ivy are an all-year staple - try cutting them down and you might have a fight on your hands! Yew is often used to give texture, and trailing ivy is perfect for creating soft lines in a pedestal display.  You may have also seen our variegated Pittosporum (growing by the Lady Chapel), with its beautifully curled leaf margins, outlined in cream, peeping in and out of the flowers to give light to a dark display.

For our church users, regular and new, we have a mixture of planting at the front of the church bringing joy to the eye - daffodils, tulips and grape hyacinths in the borders and dotted on the lawn, which are just beginning to flower; geraniums, roses and lilies in the summer; and the bright orange berries of pyracantha in the winter.  The roses behind the bench provide a heavenly space of scent and colour and are a perfect backdrop for any bride or groom waiting for their wedding.

woodFor wildlife we have areas of untouched undergrowth which support a variety of invertebrates such as woodlice, spiders, beetles, slugs, snails, worms.  Our ivy provides a much-needed feeding stop-off for hoverflies, wasps and bees in the late summer and a safe space for birds to build their nests in spring.  Last year a group of children from Hook Infants School did a survey of the grounds, looking for insects and small creatures.  Out of all our areas, the corner of the ground on the right as you leave the car park was found to hold to widest diversity of minibeasts.  Who would have thought that?  What to us looks like a messy corner is a haven for our wildlife.

Our gardens are lovely, and we all appreciate it, but there is more that can be done.  More shrubs that we can grow for the Flower Team, more flowering plants that can be appreciated by everyone who walks through the church grounds and more areas that can host an even greater diversity of wildlife. 

We are pleased that St John's has have a Eco Church Bronze Award, and the work in the garden has contributed to that, but of course there is always more we can do, as a church we are now working towards the Silver Award.  To read more about about our Eco work please see this link.  We are also expanding our #Wilder, by looking at creating wild corridors in Hook, to find out more talk to Amanda and Anna about Wilder Hook and about the steps we can take in our gardens at home to help improve biodivesity.

Garden ClubThe Weekly Gardening Club meet most weeks on a Wednesday from 10am until 1pm and is open to all – if you would like to know more please speak to one of the team.  What have we learnt over the last year or two - the grounds are big, and its a lot of work!  We'd love to have more people join us, whether for a one off maintenance day or on a more regular basis.  You may want to join our Church Garden Whatsapp group (where topics are when/whether we are meeting on wednesday and what the tasks are for the week).  If you do not want to commit, please join our Whatsapp group, join the discussion, & pop in when you can (we're always happy to talk to non-gardners, and stop for a coffee),  We are posting regular updates & photos in the Garden Photo album. 

Our wild flower area over the summer: wild flowers

Annual Report - written spring 2024

Purpose: To improve the grounds in a three-fold way:

  • Cultivate more shrubs for the Flower Team
  • Improve the appearance of the church grounds for the benefit of everyone who walks through the church grounds
  • Create more areas to host a wider diversity of wildlife.

We have a small team of volunteers who join us every Wednesday from 10am until approx. 1pm, weather permitting.

PS these pictures were all taken in February - and lovely to see so many flowers over the winter!

daffodils at the front of church

During the last year, as a team we:

  • Created a Wild Corner at the front (opposite the pre-school) to support the movement of invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians
  • Became involved in Slow Worms in Churchyards (SLiC) and set up 10 reptile shelters around the grounds
  • Improved the entrance to the church by planting geraniums to the left of the path and maintaining the rose bed behind the bench
  • We have also begun to work on other areas, which are part of our current year’s aims (our year runs from October to October):
  • Prepared a mowing plan which allows the Gardening Team, Richard Paganuzzi, and the Goslings to be responsible for specific areas, which has allowed us to have different areas of short, meadow and long grass to encourage biodiversity (although one of the findings from last summer, was to ensure this year, we have a variety of styles of edging to the long grass areas, to ensure it looks tidier and more purposeful).
  • Prepared a plan to remove the old compost area so that we can build a three leaf bays - this will enable us to generate our own compost
  • Started work on creating a Wild Corridor (running along the garage side of the front of the church) to provide a natural habitat for a wide range of fauna
  • Prepared a list of plants for the Flower Team, applied for funds from the PCC, bought and planted them
  • We are also trying to bring some of the things we are learning from our eco-friendly gardening back into church, and are doing this through sustainable floristry.  As a team, the garden club have taken on the displays in the Lady Chapel - so we have used dried flowers, seeds, fir cones, scented foliage as well as some of the things we have been growing
  • Started to record cultivated flowering plants each month (to can see where the gaps are when we apply for more funding for plants)
  • Surveyed the long and meadow grass areas for flora and fauna to provide the basis of records which can be used to show change in biodiversity
  • Made wooden signs for different areas of the garden and linked them to the website via a QR code to allow the public to read what we are doing and why
  • Updated the website on a regular basis to show what we are doing
  • planted bulbs and flowers, donated by Hook in Bloom and other local residents.  We are grateful for all donations - thank you.
  • We do regular litter picks, and hope to add bins on site, to ensure rubbish is thrown away and not just dumped!

These pictures were all taken in October.  The hydrangea looked fabulous last year, and you may have seen some used in flower arrangements in the Lady Chapel.

Leycesteria formosa

Plans for the next year

In the garden there are times when its best to do specific tasks, and some of those tasks need to be planned to fit with the correct season! So we are thinking ahead.

  • We have been given a number of roses plants, these will be planted along the narthex wall, Q2 2024
  • the hedge outside the front of church needs serious work - about a third is health beech. Our plan is to plant a new hedge, and ensure the new hedging runs as a straight line to the yew by the garage. The new plants can be planted in front of the old hedge, and the old hedge can be removed over time. This is a large piece of work & will be something to work on during the Q3 2024.
  • continue with planting, both flowers for the flower team, and to make the social areas look nice (ongoing).
  • continue moving the compost from the front, and hopefully in the Autumn/Winter have new leaf bays in their place.
  • weed, although encouraging wild areas, we still weed flowerbeds & paths, and remove invasive species. Although brambles are a good source of nutrients for a long season, a prickly bit of bramble where people walk needs to be kept under control (ongoing).
  • the area between the church and the garage looks untidy. However, we still want to keep this as a little bit of wilderness and as a wild corridor,  but want to add a wood hedge at the church side, which would create an edge between the wild areas and the grass. In the wilderness area, we want a much bigger deadwood area. We need to pull up some of the small trees, and tidy the area.
  • provision of outside bin by the seating area in the quiet corner.


Caring for God's Creation (original version)

Looking after the garden at St John's - Caring for God's creation and #wilder initiatives

SJC garden #wilder thumbnail

Plan of the Church Garden at St Johns

This is the plan as of May 2023

SJC garden #wilder thumbnail
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