Photo: Christopher Jelley

In the summer of 2018 a wild flower labyrinth emerged in the heart of Lyngford Park in Priorswood, Taunton, creating a path full of meaning and life to be explored through its twists and turns. Lead Landscape Artist Sarah Langley ran a series of community workshops to grow flowers for the Lyngford Labyrinth which was designed and created by Artist Christopher Jelley.

See our 2 minute film made by Reuben Jelley at the popular Pride in Priorswood summer activity days organised by Priorswood Community Centre. Somerset Art Works’ artists Christopher Jelley, Sarah Langley and Flora Arbuthnott led free creative activities for families.

In April poet, writer and artist Christopher Jelley designed, mapped out and mowed the beginnings of the Lyngford  Labyrinth. Part of the Our Place project in Priorswood, initiated and managed by SAW, this work builds on the links successfully established within the community during past creative collaborations including those with artists Louis Masai and Melanie Tomlinson in 2015.This year SAW’s Beccy Swaine has brought on board landscape artist Sarah Langley who will add the colour to Christopher’s grass canvas, hopefully turning a patch of urban green into a little patch of wild flower meadow. Plants obviously need time to establish, so in May, Sarah created seed kits which were available from the Priorswood Community Centre where they also hosted seed sowing workshops.  Pupils from Selworthy, Elmwood and Penrose schools were also involved in planting hundreds of seeds under Sarah’s guidance. The seeds were donated by Grow Wild, the national outreach initiative of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, who aim to encourage communities to take care and discover delight in their local environments by actively planting wildflowers and connecting with nature.By late June the seedlings were established enough to be planted out in the open. On Saturday 23rd I went along to the community planting to find Sarah, aided by her core small team of daughter Ivy and fellow gardener Sian Gill, and a group of young families eager to help. It was going to take a while as laid out along the twists and turns of the labyrinth path were 470 little seedlings ready for their new home.

It was a hot June day and the children were taking great delight in collecting water from the stream to water the long grass boundaries of the maze, this helped soften the compacted earth making it easier to prepare the ground for planting. It was a lovely atmosphere, one father kindly bought ice creams and lollies for everyone helping and our thanks must also go to local gardener, Ashley Watts, who happened to just be walking by early Saturday morning and intrigued by the project stayed and helped throughout the day making light work digging hundreds of holes!

Landscape Artist Sarah Langley

With everyone’s combined efforts I hope that the seedlings flourish. All the plants Sarah has carefully selected are known for their attraction to bees and butterflies, and she has planned it so that it will be in flower from July to September and even into October. It promises to be a colourful display of Yarrow, Verbena, Cosmos, Oxeye Daisies, Cosmos and Quaking Grass.

This project has involved hundreds of participants and I hope that the majority of them get the opportunity to view the results of their patience and hard labour – maybe even walk, run, skip or ride the labyrinth path when it is in full flower.

links connected to this post

SAW Our Place

Christopher Jelley

Grow Wild

WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY by Davina Jelley

Thanks to Grow Wild for donating seeds – the national outreach initiative of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. They encourage people to do something positive where they live; connecting with wildflowers, fungi and places around them, taking notice of nature, getting active, learning new things and sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm. Underpinned by a belief that this simple act of creativity can turn spaces into beautiful, inspiring and colourful wildlife havens; encouraging people to care for and delight in the nature around them.

Featured Artists

  • Christopher Jelley