Cathays Gardens ‘Planting Cathays’

Brief Introduction
The ‘Planting Cathays’ Proposed Project
Initial Engagement
Initial work
Future efforts in the 2020’s
Learning arcs
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Llanbleddian gardens and Ruthin Gardens


Brief introduction:

Over the 1985 to 2010’s these beautiful spaces has degraded.

Although there is a re-emerging demographic of families moving back into the area – the existing green space requires a significant amount of reversal of its decline in recent decades.

Compacted soil is a serious problem, which results in pooling, the sad removal of matured trees and


The Biodiversity Proposed Project:

In the late 2000’s/early 2010’s dialogue was opened with the local residents, families, young professionals and landlords on the [then] existing state of these two green spaces. It was agreed the waste potential of this area and that a community project should be initiated to


Initial engagement:

By engaging with:

  • 1st Cathays Scouts
  • Grounds Council Department
  • Parks Council Department
  • Social Housing Council Department
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Sherman Theatre.
  • … and our local families.

The feedback was very good with multiple site visits to discuss the existing problems.


Initial work:

The primary groundwork was undertaken by volunteers in the locale, Sherman Theatre volunteers, Council volunteers and others.






Future efforts in the 2020’s 




It is important to list all the pro’s and con’s in the hope of gaining a more efficient process and understanding for future efforts.


With the assortment of two hundred [12 – 24 months matured] wildflowers added, it would be a waiting game to see how they ‘root-in’ and begin

The two local wormeries established in Cathays in 2002 and 2011 helped contribute several hundred worms to the soils that had been dug up.

Initial doubts from the Grow Wild team and the existing long term experienced Grounds and Parks teams from the council; all cited concerns about the patchiness of the grass and that significant efforts would not be achieved in year 1 of the project to help reduce the significant pooling on the area.



The very rainy autumn/winter 2019/2020 gave concerns about regular flooding still occuring on both gardens [due to decades of soil compaction]

A lot of the popular Field Scabious, Foxgloves and Greater Knapweed were not successful in growing – however the were very successful varieties such as Ajuga Reptans, Betony, Ragged Robin and Yarrow wildflowers – all already showing early stages of bloom in April.

For the end of spring/ start of summer planting efforts – wildflowers that are matured from 36 month stock will be added to the grounds. With more efforts focused on the Field Scabious, Foxgloves and Greater Knapweed being replenished for the early-to-mid 2020’s growth cycles.



Please return for future updates.


Learning arcs:

Keep communication going!

Always keep in touch with the neighbours – they need to know you are available if any problems arise. In the first 6 months there were complaints that the project was a waste of time (by end of 2019) as nothing looked improved in the general appearance of the space.

We’ve had to consistently reinforce that it is a minimum of a 60 month project and patience and consistency of effort was necessary to see the primary 5 year stage through. It has been 30 – 40 years of millions of stomping footsteps (majority of them students)  so it will take a minimum of 5-10 years of remediation of the land to a more ambient ecological state.

Disasters with the Water butts?

Complaints were made in the first 6-12 months about the water butts. Several people made understandable complaints that water was coming off the top of their guttering – as opposed to down/through it. This was due to tree leaves and moss building on the gutters – yet also a lot of congealed mess builds up in the vertical pipes due to the water butts connection.

……….. this is a lesson – disconnect the connection between the guttering pipe and the water butts AND CLEAN IT OUT. It is unpleasant – yet a necessary 30 minute job every 6-12 months. Too many people assume they can just plug in and leave it indefinitely. Water butt or not – clean your gutters out!!