The Cantref Crusaders have been very busy over the past few weeks, and they continue to work at an amazing pace, thanks in part to breakfasts of spinach and Weetabix in order to sustain superior levels of muscle power and creativity writes Judith Vicary, a Friend of Bailey Park, Cantref Crusader Associate, and Civic Society Committee Member.

A significant number of shrubs and other plants have been transferred from the Cantref Roundabout, which is to be landscaped by South Wales Trunk Road Agency (SWTRA) and they have been put in Bailey Park, many of them in the large beds near the stream.

Earlier in the year, the Crusaders joined a number of volunteers from Abergavenny Civic Society in a bid to transform the weedy wilderness of Bailey Park’s Sunken Garden into a thing of beauty, filled with colourful Hardy Perennials which should provide many years of pleasure to Park visitors of both the human and insect species, as most of the new plants are Bee and Butterfly friendly.

The bed is also low maintenance which makes it an efficient option. Now that the bed has matured, it is a wonder to behold, but it is often overlooked by visitors because of its unobtrusive position next to the Sensory Garden. Do go and take a look. The cost of the plants was covered by match funding from the Town Council and Civic Society, and a generous discount was provided by The Abergavenny Garden Centre and Willows of Usk.

Unable to give their green fingers any respite, the Crusaders couldn’t help but notice the overgrown condition of the nearby large flowerbeds in the Park. With the Wales in Bloom competition looming, it was obvious that Superhuman effort was required, in order to tidy things up just a little bit, and the Crusaders and their associates sprang into action, offering their services to the dwindling numbers of Friends of Bailey Park. The work on the beds in the park will be ongoing for years and it is hoped that younger people will follow on in the future to continue these important projects.

The Crusaders and associates have recently been invited to become official Friends of Bailey Park and it has been agreed that some Park funding may be used for gardening tools, and for bulbs and shrubs to brighten up the beds in the darker months and beyond. Already, there have been trees and hedges trimmed, large shrubs relocated, endless weeding undertaken, summer bedding divided, cut down and tidied up, and there was so much overcrowding of plants that interesting discoveries have been made, including rose bushes and an unusual species of Oak tree. There have also been numerous plant donations and there will be more. The idea is to create areas of ongoing, seasonal colour, adding symmetry to each bed, and encouraging the growth of bee and butterfly -loving plants.

There is a wildflower bed amongst the others, which at the beginning of the season appeared to be nothing more than a home for Mare’s Tail, a most invasive and toxic plant that must be burned to be destroyed.

Roots can be forty feet long and the plant can lie dormant for decades. The myriad of colour from the flowers that subsequently grew has been breathtaking, and many passers by have remarked on the improvements that have been made.

One lady who visits the park regularly, even presented a startled Crusader with a very generous cheque to put towards future improvements, and we would like to thank her. She is a local lady and her name is Mo Stephenson. There is so much more to be done, and we can never have enough volunteers. There are other parts of the town too where help would be appreciated, however much time anyone can spare. In particular, Willing Weeders are desperately needed. You can get in touch with Shirley Barnfield on [email protected] or Roy Williams on [email protected]. if you are interested. Don’t forget to go and enjoy Bailey Park soon.