We set up The Friends of Manor Gardens and Gildredge Park in 2011, in response to complaints about the state of our lovely gardens following the removal of The Towner Gallery. Many good things have happened since, not least the purchase of Gildredge Manor by a couple who have done a wonderful job of restoration.
We are trying, with Eastbourne Borough Council, to do the same for Manor Gardens. There have been some great improvements and a few setbacks, but lately matters seem to have grown worse. First, although it may sound unimportant, many dog walkers ignore the signs that dogs should be on leads in the gardens. In Gildredge Park, dogs can gallivant at will. Not everyone likes dogs, and many dog owners seem happy to let their animals dig up plants or swim in the lily pond. They do not seem to accept that gardens are there to be enjoyed. The pond is dirty and it’s denizens dead or sickly.
Some do not pick up their dog mess, leaving that job to other dog walkers (who do a wonderful job) or the gardeners. The Friends are very pro-dog, but we also work hard to raise funds to replant some of the gardens. We donated £2,000 this year, and the council replanted the rose garden, which looks wonderful. However, a few come and take plants or flowers. They break branches off trees, and leave a dreadful mess behind. We could replace the lilies in the pond, but they were stolen three times in a year. What is the solution?
I am sorry to complain, because most of us enjoy the park and gardens very much. We simply grow disheartened at the destruction there.
Manor Gardens are a valuable resource to Eastbourne. Please, if you see people riding bikes on the hedges, or digging up plants – well, all the obvious things – please, ask them to stop. Or let us, or the council, know about the damage. And keep your dogs on leads until you reach Gildredge Park.
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