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Covid memorial garden created

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
Covid memorial garden created

A MEMORIAL garden to acknowledge the impact of coronavirus on the lives of Dumfries and Galloway residents has been created.

Volunteers of The People’s Project have worked tirelessly at Castledykes Park, just above the sunken garden, to create a tranquil spot for quiet reflection.

Volunteer Anne Simpson explained the area has memorial trees and after volunteers started to call it the memorial garden, the name seemed to stick.

She said: “Although many people have been using the park for a variety of reasons during covid, for exercise, fresh air, to have socially distanced meetings with friends, some people just wanted somewhere to sit to find a bit of peace, quiet and solace.

“As we were working, Pod, one of our group suggested we create a simple covid memorial where people have a place to sit quietly to reflect or indeed just enjoy the perennial plants and trees.

“During the pandemic, many people have lost loved ones, others have lost jobs, relationships, their education and we wanted this memorial to reflect this.

“We came up with the simple ideas of two seats and a plaque.”

Two local organisations answered a plea and there are now two benches, presented by The Lions Club, Dumfries and The People’s Project, and Tesco Extra gave financial assistance for the memorial plaque.

In an oversight, the date was omitted from the plaque but Anne has said this will be rectified soon.

She added: “We felt it was important to date the memorial as a moment in our history.

“For the children who return to the park as adults and tell their own children about the time when they were taught at home, had to wear masks to school, the shops were all closed, we could not see our families and friends for a long time.

“We had to be very respectful when siting the seats, taking care of the root systems of the memorial trees already in place.” The four large flower beds have been weeded, replanted with perennial plants and mulched to reduce maintenance.

Avid helpers chose sensory, fragrant plants and also plants which can tolerate drought.

Before the pandemic, inmates of Dumfries Prison had made planters from off cuts donated by a local sawmill, so The People’s Project had a basis of a memorial.

One planter is a particularly intriguing design, where bugs can harbour in the outlets around it.

The inmates made bird and bat boxes, hedgehog houses and bug house, some of which we have placed in the memorial garden for interest.

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