The Joint Landscaping Group was the predecessor of the current station 'carers' scheme, or Adopt a Station as it sometimes known. The following gives some idea of the group's activities.
Members of one of the Joint Landscaping Group at Rhd Ddu during the
Since the demise in 2001 of the original landscape group , regular grounds maintenance at Dinas and Waunfawr and later at Rhyd Ddu had been undertaken by just three people. They had received the additional occasional support of ad hoc groups of up to five people when major tasks had to be tackled at both Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu. This support, which had drawn on about 12 volunteers who had been prepared to help when they could, was invaluable in the early establishment of the railway’s gardens. As the railway expanded, the workload would increase significantly and it became clear that the ad hoc approach to organising working parties would need to be formalised.
It was thought that 3 or 4 people on one or two days over a weekend would be overwhelmed when the stations at Beddgelert, Pont Croesor and ultimately Caernarfon were landscaped. In the event the sheep blighted development of the landscape beds and the platform overcrowding at Beddgelert in the peak periods led to the removal of these beds and for the present there is only a small planter that can be managed by the booking office staff. At Pont Croesor the small planter was taken out of use when the station ceased to be the terminus of the line and was left to naturalize. The adopting groups at the six halts each manage their own small planted areas independently.
It is important for a tourist railway to recognize the image of the railway that most passengers take away with them relies as much on the appearance of the stations as it does on the interior finish of the coaches and the views from the windows. Comments received from passengers at both Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu that they do appreciate the landscaping and the different themes that have been developed at Dinas, Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu stations to reflect the local micro-climate and ambiance have been remarked upon.
The decision of the Company and the Society to pursue the Adopt a Stations scheme in 2009 was intended to draw more people into the various aspects of maintaining the appearance of its stations. This approach was at its most successful in that it attracted adopters to the small halts to take on responsibility for the regular care and maintenance of the fabric of the stations as well as weeding and tidying of planting beds and flowerboxes and cleaning the halts on a regular basis. However this approach alone would not achieve these aims at the three larger stations like Dinas where there were already extensive areas of planting.
It was recognized that additional volunteer resources were needed to support the adopters and to undertake the many heavier annual tasks at the 3 key times in the gardening calendar. These issues were at the core of the decision to try establish a Joint Landscape Group of volunteers who could join together on at least three occasions during the year in early spring, summer and autumn.
|Attending to the Caernarfon end platform bed at Dinas during the
Autumn Blitz 2013 working party. (Photo: Graham Cartland Glover)
It had been anticipated that the Joint Landscape (JLG) would bring together volunteers from the Adopt a Station teams but this objective did not receive sufficient support. The JLG therefore relied upon attracting volunteers from other groups and members from across the country who were not regular volunteers on the railway. Anyone who wanted to help improve the ambience of the large stations was welcomed and non-gardeners were able, with supervision, to help the gardeners with heavy lifting, bramble bashing, lopping and pruning.
A trial working party of volunteers from Dinas, Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu was held at Waunfawr and Dinas in October 2009. Those present agreed that there would be a lot to be gained by putting a joint working party onto a regular footing with advanced publicity and activity reports in the Snowdon Ranger magazine.
Under the umbrella of the Adopt a Station scheme, the JLG was established in late 2009 to assist station adopters with the maintenance of the station gardens. It was agreed to trial three seasonal working parties at selected locations in 2010,starting in February/March to freshen up the gardens with new planting, shrub pruning and clearance of winter debris. Then in June/July, follow that up with a summer tidy up before the main holiday period. In October/November there would be a big autumn drive to cut back summer growth, carry out tree work, autumn prune shrubs and plant new stock for the next spring where appropriate.
These three working parties each year became known as the Spring Makeover, the Summer Trim and the Autumn Blitz and they spanned the period from March 2010 to October. During that period the JLG succeeded in raising the standard landscape maintenance to a universally higher standard, increasing the sustainability of both hard and soft landscaping, improving the range and variety planting; and developing different planting themes for each of the three stations with largest garden areas.
These themes were designed to exploit the both the different altitudes and significantly different micro-climates of each station. At Dinas, advantage was taken of the mild maritime micro-climate near the coast to develop a Mediterranean themed planting scheme in the sheltered area around the station entrance. Waunfawr, with its cool temperate climate, evolved naturally into a Welsh herbaceous garden. Rhyd Ddu, at a higher altitude with a colder windswept micro-climate demanded a mountain and moorland theme with heathers, grasses and alpine plants. These gardens have gradually evolved to reflect their micro-climates successfully through varying degrees of trial and error and Rhyd Ddu was especially challenging in this respect. More detailed descriptions of the work of the JLG can be found the JLG reports in the Snowdon Ranger numbers 68 to 91
In the autumn of 2014 Graham Cartland Glover who had acted as the JLG working party co-ordinator since 2009 decided that for health and age reasons he needed to reduce his level of volunteering commitments and in the Spring 2015 Snowdon Ranger he invited volunteers to come forward to take up the co-ordination role after the 2015 Autumn Blitz in October. However it became clear during the summer that no-one was prepared to take on that role in the foreseeable future and the 2015 Autumn Blitz was the final JLG working party. During that last working party, the adopters of the Waunfawr, Dinas and Rhyd Ddu decided that the only way to keep their gardens in trim was for them to try to emulate the success of the Friends of Tan-y-bwlch and set up Friends groups at their stations. A report in the Winter 2015/16 Snowdon Ranger publicised the setting up of Friends groups at five stations and halts. The success of this initiative has been patchy and it will really depend on the level of commitment of the individual adopters to recruit volunteers themselves. This page will be updated with news on the establishment of individual Friends groups
The Friends of Rhyd Ddu were established in June 2016 with the induction of a new volunteer and another new volunteer in October. Expressions of interest have come from two more existing volunteers so the nucleus of a friends group has now been established.