One-to-one with Residents at Ennismore Mews – This year’s overall winner of Mews in Bloom
Neighbourly enthusiasm, green fingers and creative vision sprung into life this year amongst the residential community of Ennismore Mews.
The result was not only a well-deserved first place and winner’s plaque for our Mews in Bloom competition, but new friendships, lots of laughter, colourful planting, and a burgeoning safe green garden space for children and adults to enjoy from their windows in the winter and outside when the sun shines.
Resident Tony Jones at number 24 and fellow neighbour and resident, Samer Younis at number 14 explain the thinking behind the mews garden design, and how successfully they got the residents involved to improve the quality of daily life in their mews and add value to their homes.
Tell us a little about Ennismore Mews…
There are 39 residences and around 100 residents living in Ennismore Mews. The age range is widely spread, from a dozen young children, to students, many, perhaps most, of working age, some newly retired (or of an age to do so), and then some oldies in their 70’s, 80’s and even two 95 year-olds. The most extraordinary and one of the things that makes our mews so special is the wealth of nationalities – we have 20 different ones enriching all our lives every day.
Being relatively traffic-free means that children’s ball games and at the other extreme, using the mews for walking and personal trainers means our mews can be enjoyed by all.
What inspired you to begin giving the mews a ‘facelift’?
We decided to improve the quality of our lives and add to the value of our properties by making it the most visually impressive in town. Our plan was, and continues to build on the existing displays of flowers, shrubs and trees and encourage others to enter into a joint effort for all of us to benefit and enjoy; creating a friendly and visually desirable environment.
Explain how you went about creating the new look green space?
We wrote to everyone with an offer to hire a contractor to service any planting. We also suggested to run a maintenance service but suggested that each resident should fund their own installation. Myself and my co-founder, Samer funded some specimen trees to give encouragement. We did some back-of-an-envelope calculations having hired and agreed with a contractor the frequency, length of visit and hourly cost of maintenance. We offered all residents three levels of fees and arranged the following:
1. Appointed a professional gardener (already working locally) at the rate of £30 per man hour to advise and maintain the proposed installations throughout the year, so we enjoy a balance of colour, variety and sustainability.
2. Establish a range of troughs and planters, stocked with a colourful array of flowers, climbing plants, shrubs and trees to be chosen and purchased by residents in consultation with the appointed gardener, or independently if preferred.
How does the scheme continue to operate for the mews residents?
We proposed levels of membership and annual subscriptions for the scheme to suit everyone’s individual requirements depending on the level of time and effort they wanted to commit to upkeep; whether they wanted holiday maintenance; those looking for a routine and regular service for watering, weeding and pruning, and those wishing to protect and look after their plants when often away from the mews.
We calculated a subscription working on the need for fortnightly maintenance in spring and autumn, weekly in summer and monthly in winter. Based on each visit taking 1½ hours the annual cost is around £1,350 and the subscription fees are based on this.
Thanks to appointing gardening guru, Greg Carling www.gregsplants.co.uk, the quality of plant maintenance service we expected has been achieved. We have reappointed Greg, increasing his hourly rate for plant maintenance to counter the increased cost of fuel, transport and labour. We also now have a more accurate record of the frequency of att endance necessary, so that we can hopefully hold this price level for some years.
How did residents respond to your idea?
We could not have imagined that this idea would catch on so universally and morph into a sort of social convenience storewhere issues such as the installation of superfast broadband by fibre optic cable could be co-ordinated. We soon started to meet up over wine and nibbles, and then everyone wanted to join.
What are some of the standout delights?
One example that springs to mind is our paradigm neighbour, Emma Rees at the south end of the mews. We enjoy an array of climbers: jasmine and clematis; trees: olive, cherry, acer and bay; shrubs: box, fuchsia, and of course, flowers: geraniums, but a very wide range; in winter: cyclamen add colour and cheer.
How did you find out about Mews in Bloom?
We learnt about the competition from reading and following Mews News. We joined because Samer and I had met up and decided to co-ordinate an effort to improve value, ambience and quality of life by “civilising” the mews, not least by foliage, improving the greenery and floral elements. We only started our project in 2021 and felt so inspired we decided to apply to enter. We didn’t settle on a theme, but this year many of us started the planting year with yellow and blue in support of Ukraine and there were a few Ukrainian flags dotted around. The judging was not too challenging because we stressed that what we should do was work really hard, “think long”, do our very best, and plan for next year! We had low expectations so it was exciting but not nail-biting!