Friday, 17 June 2022

Pesticides campaign update and Freedom of Information request

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you’re probably aware that we are planning to present our petition asking the City Council to stop spraying pesticides in the parks to the full council meeting on Thursday 7th July. We’re trying to collect as many signatures as possible in the last few weeks. If we reach 750 signatures of people who live, work or study in Leicester, a senior council officer will be called to a public meeting to respond.

Thank you to everyone who has signed and shared it recently – the petition has grown significantly in the last fortnight so it’s working! If you haven’t signed and shared yet, there is still time. We’ll also be having one last street stall to collect paper signatures on Saturday 25th June, on the edge of Victoria Park.

As part of our research for this campaign, we submitted a Freedom of Information request to the City Council to find out more about their use of pesticides on pavements over the last three years. We were particularly interested in this time period, as we saw more wild plants in the streets in 2020 and early 2021.

We asked the frequency with which the pavements were sprayed with pesticides in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and the chemicals that were used. They responded:


Number of treatments - 3

Commenced – 08.04.19, 08.07.19, 14.09.19

Chemical – Glyphosate (this is a herbicide, designed to kill plants but known to have other effects as well – see below).


Number of treatments - 1

Period - April - Oct

Chemical – Glyphosate, No mix


Number of treatments - 3

Commenced – 17.05.21, 26.07.21, 03.10.21

Chemical – Glyphosate, Rosate adjuvant

We also asked if they could tell us the number of reported trips and falls due to ‘weeds’ in the pavements in the same years. They responded:

Number of reported weed concerns:

2019 – 13

2020 – 56

2021 – 17

Number of reported trips and falls:

2019 – 4

2020 – 2

2021 – 0

We found these numbers interesting, because it seems to show that having more wild plants in the pavements (as there were in 2020 and early 2021) doesn’t lead to more trips and falls. On the other hand, the increase in wild plant diversity and abundance was very apparent. Two local botanists came to our May meeting and told us that in 2020, they recorded 361 species of wild plant on 20 streets in Leicester. They found a similar number when they surveyed a comparable area of unimproved natural habitat. Cities don’t have to be botanical deserts. In fact, left alone, nature can thrive in a city. We just need to give it the chance.

The City Council seem to be more concerned about the complaints they receive about ‘weedy’ pavements. And yet, many of us are worried about the use of glyphosate in the city, especially when we see the evidence that it is linked to cancer in humans and harms wild bee colonies. Therefore, if you’ve signed our petition and you are wondering what to do next, we encourage you to write to your councillors and complain about the use of herbicides in Leicester. You can use the Write To Them website to easily find your councillors and send them an email. You don’t have to be an expert – just explain why you are worried. But if you would like more information to quote in your email, Pesticide Action Network have some useful information here. And if your councillors respond, we’d love to know! Forward us any responses you receive to help us plan the next steps of the campaign:

Sunday, 12 June 2022

Deborah Sawday - a lifelong activist

Deborah Mary Anne Sawday - 11th July 1944 to 19th October 2021

[With thanks to the ULAS Newsletter for the photo above and quote below.]

Almost no-one involved with Leicester Friends of the Earth in the last forty plus years can say they didn’t know Debbie Sawday. Determined, persuasive, creative, energetic fun-loving and effective as a committed environmentalist and campaigner - she has left a unique and lasting imprint on the group.

Born into a family with a successful local architectural practice, and the great granddaughter of Arthur Wakerley, who himself left his mark on Leicester politics and buildings, Debbie’s chosen career path was in archaeology, in which she developed a high level of specialism, becoming an expert in post-Roman and medieval pottery and earthenware.

As might be expected, Debbie’s funeral on Friday 5th November 2021 at Great Glen Crematorium, was very well attended, and included a number of former Leicester FoE campaigners, some even harking back to its beginnings.

We heard from her nephew Jonathon how she lived in London, on the King’s Road at the height of the swinging sixties, her dress and makeup responding fashionably to the Mary Quant look.

Her Leicester University work colleagues, too, recognised the multi-talented person that Debbie was. This extract from the ULAS (University of Leicester Archaeological Service) newsletter attests:

“…….. Debbie was University of Leicester Archaeological Services’ medieval pottery specialist, and had built up an encyclopaedic knowledge of her subject over more than forty years, with hundreds of reports to her name, including contributions to chapters in the recently-published Life in Roman and medieval Leicester volume.”

Debbie made sure her colleagues recognised and responded to environmental concerns:

“…….in terms of politics and attitudes, Debbie was very much a child of the 60s; she was ‘green’ before it was fashionable, never owned a car, cycled everywhere and was a passionate campaigner for Friends of the Earth. Her colleagues were used to having the latest petition thrust into their hands for signing, on entering the office!”

See full article here

Rachel Harriss – a campaigner in the 80s and 90s recalls; 

“Debbie was a tour de force.  You could not help but be drawn in by her energy and conviction. She was seemingly effortlessly adept at writing eloquent, and persuasive letters at the drop of the hat and shared her skills readily, rallying us all to do the same.

Hugely well informed, she was an avid devourer of the Environment pages of the Guardian and her newspaper clippings cabinet at 122 London Road was legendary.  In her articles for the newsletters, she pared down complex issues and gave us action points and catchy slogans that we could easily take out on to the streets. 

She also knew how to have fun. I recall many a late night at campaign HQ, or 122, as it simply became known, glass of red to hand, as we fashioned sandwich boards out of scavenged cardboard and poster paints. There were quite a number of parties, too, at Debbie’s then home (and one of the Leicester’s Arthur Wakerley buildings). On those hot summer evenings enjoying the open air on her cast iron balcony, it was a mix of friends, work colleagues and FoE co-campaigners. 

Debbie was also not averse to a spot of dressing up. I remember us commandeering a dinghy and dressing up in wetsuits, snorkels and armbands, ready to battle rising waters in a ‘Greenhouse Effect’ day of action. 

April 1989 stays with me particularly, calling on our High Street banks to reduce or write off the huge foreign debts accumulated by countries such as Brazil, whose government was hell bent on cutting down rainforests, in order to keep up with interest payments.  The burning season was about to begin again, forcing tribal peoples from forest homes, killing off rare species of plants and animals and releasing huge quantities of carbon dioxide. Debbie arranged for some full-blown street theatre. Mourners, all in black, we staged a symbolic funeral procession down the London Road, armed with a cardboard coffin and a giant sized £3 billion cheque to pay Brazil to safeguard the forests for us all. I recall her fetching down one of her curtains to drape over the coffin - she knew both how to repurpose and to live lightly. We made merry hell outside the banks, collected hundreds of signatures, distributed thousands of leaflets and hit the Leicester Mercury big time.”

Debbie was rainforest campaigner for some time in the 1980s and ‘90s. Her resourcefulness, determination and indefatigability made for interesting and exciting events that drew public attention, poured scorn on careless and indifferent companies and institutions and contributed to the mounting pressure for action.

Another occasion, in 1993, helping to make and carry a giant draught excluder, Debbie joined the energy group drawing attention to the profligate waste of energy through the many and large shop open doors.

Harriet Pugsley recalls, along with Debbie and Sue Eppel taking part in a Day of Action at Raab Karcher, the timber merchant on Bede Island South. “We brazenly walked in and 'stole' away some tropical hard wood that we then labelled as being stolen property from the Brazilian Amazon.  Of course, this caused some consternation. The police being called, we had made our point and left without being handcuffed or locked up”. 

Celia Barden and I visited Debbie a few weeks before her death. She was undergoing further treatment for secondary cancers. Though fatigued, she was very positive and showed us around her lovely gardens at Knighton Church Road. The rear garden had a pond and many native species in the lawn and surrounding beds.

We miss you, Debbie.

Alan Gledhill

Friday, 27 May 2022

Responding to the Campaign Against Leicester's Workplace Parking Levy

We support Leicester City Council’s proposal to introduce a workplace parking levy (WPL): a charge on employers who provide parking spaces for their employees. There is a detailed explanation of why we support this on Climate Action’s website. We know that there is now a campaign against the introduction of a WPL in Leicester and we would like to respond to some of the arguments being put forward.

“The WPL will have a disproportionate impact on the lowest paid workers”

The most economically disadvantaged people in Leicester (employed or not) suffer the most from low quality public transport and unhealthy levels of air pollution. 35% of households in the city do not have access to a car. Many, if not the majority, of people in those households will be reliant on public transport to get around. At the moment, many of the bus services are infrequent and poorly co-ordinated and all are too expensive. The number of bus passengers in Leicester has been declining for years as a result. This situation leaves already disadvantaged people further disadvantaged by the limited transport available to them.  

It is now well known that people who are economically disadvantaged are the most exposed to air pollution. This is all the more unfair because the same people are less likely to own a vehicle and be contributing to the pollution. They are also more likely to have existing health conditions that will be exacerbated by breathing polluted air. This spiral of inequality is visible in Leicester, for example, with the St Matthew’s housing estate being next to the congested ring road. Introducing clean (electric) buses, with more connected, more frequent services, would benefit people without access to a car and people living in polluted areas the most. It would finally address the current, doubly unfair situation.

As the WPL is levied on employers, they can choose whether to pass it on to their employees and how to do so. The City Council have said they would work with employers to ensure the charge is passed on fairly. The University of Nottingham’s scale of charges provide an example of how this can be done. This would need monitoring, of course, and any employers not using a scale of charges to protect their lowest paid employees would need to be challenged. But that could be done and, overall, the scheme promises to benefit the people who are struggling the most by improving the transport they rely on.

“The number of buses will reduce”

We contacted the City Council about this claim, to understand it better. Bus operators’ fleets in Leicester are currently artificially high, because they include vehicles for contract work outside Leicester. The competition between operators also means that we often see empty buses driving around. For example, I live on the route of the 22 in Evington and it is not unusual to see a First bus and a Centrebus pull up at stops at the same time or within a few minutes of each other. Inevitably, the second vehicle is then mostly empty. This pointless competition between operators adds to pollution and congestion in the city. The new Bus Partnership Plan promises to reduce competition between the operators, as well as improving the frequency of services and the connections between them.

One of the Council’s priorities with the revenue that could be generated by the WPL is to fund a new orbital bus service (i.e., a service that goes round the city rather than from the outskirts into the centre). This would run within 400 metres of 75% of the employers in the city. For people without cars, it would significantly increase their access to jobs and services. The electric buses will also cut the pollution caused by public transport. But this plan needs funding and the money provided by central government will not be enough. We need the WPL to fund better bus services.

“We need system-changing socialist solutions”

and “municipal ownership is better than commercial ownership”

We completely agree that bringing public transport back into public hands is the best way to provide an excellent bus service. And to give credit where it is due, Peter Soulsby has consistently said this too. But it isn’t going to happen with a Conservative government. It isn’t guaranteed even if we get a Labour government at the next election; they were in power for 12 years last time without fixing the public transport system. And we haven’t got time to wait for a revolution before we start acting on climate change. The latest IPCC report made it very clear that action is needed now to avert climate disaster. India is currently dealing with a heatwave that has been made 30 times more likely by the climate crisis. There are more severe heatwaves every year in countries where very few people have access to air-conditioning. There are more floods, more fires, more droughts. Left unchecked, it is only a matter of time before climate change starts killing people on a scale that we cannot bear to imagine. We need to start moving towards a more sustainable way of life now, even if the first steps are not perfect. In Leicester, a sensible next step would be to improve the bus service and start to encourage people to consider leaving their cars at home.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

May meeting: Urban biodiversity presentation

At our May meeting, we welcomed Russell Parry and Lindsay-Anne, who had come to share their enthusiasm for wild plants (N.B. not ‘weeds’!) in urban areas. You can see their slides here and below is a brief summary of their presentation.


Data from NatureSpot, a species recording website, shows that the highest levels of biodiversity in Leicestershire are found in the city and towns and the lowest in farmland. The pesticides and fertilisers used in agriculture are turning fields into green deserts, with very low diversity. Seeing plants and green places is essential to human health and happiness; many psychology studies have now demonstrated this.

There has been an alarming decline in insects over the past few decades. This is made very clear by the ‘windscreen phenomenon’ – car windscreens are no longer covered in squashed insects after long journeys. A German study found that there has been a 50% decline in insects in 20 years. Insects rely on wild plants for food and a place to lay their eggs. More wild plants = provide more habitat for insects.

Russell has conducted a bird survey along the same route in Birstall for the past 25 years. He finds that there is less species diversity and abundance on the golf course and more along the roads with gardens. More plants = more insects = more birds.

The City Council routinely sprays the pavements in Leicester with herbicide to kill all wild plants. In 2020, with the lockdowns, they only sprayed once. In that year and the following spring, there was an astonishing abundance of urban wild plants. But then they resumed spraying three times a year and the pavement wild plants have disappeared again. Lindsay-Anne saw a similar situation in Enderby. A recent article in the RSPB magazine concluded that the best way to deal with ‘weeds’ is to allow them to flourish.

The abundance of 2020 inspired Russell and Lindsay-Anne to start the StreetWild project. They planned to ask people to go 200 yards from their house and look for common plants. They would provide people with a guide to recognising five plants currently in flower every month. The Wildlife Trust and the City Council were interested in promoting this. However, when the pavement spraying resumed, the project had to be abandoned.

In 2020, Russell and Lindsay-Anne recorded 361 species of wild plant on 20 streets in Leicester and found a similar number when they surveyed unimproved natural habitat. Lindsay-Anne found Jersey Cudweed in Enderby, a schedule 8 plant (meaning it should not be touched) and the first record of this plant in Leicestershire. She reported it to the District Council, but when the spraying resumed, it was still sprayed.

The City Council’s Biodiversity Action Plan includes some excellent intentions, including: ‘We will make sure that local biodiversity thrives.’ However, they are not acting on these.


This gave us some new ideas for how to progress our pesticides campaign!

Saturday, 14 May 2022

It's time to love our weeds!

We organised a walk starting from Jubilee Square today to encourage people to appreciate the wild plants growing in the city.

The walk was led by local botanists, Mike Pepper and Ann Branson. Approximately 20 people attended and we learnt to recognise wild plants like ragwort, cranesbill, white deadnettle, bird’s-foot trefoil, knapweed and cow parsley. We wrote the names of the plants in chalk on the path, so that people following the same route later would be able to learn the names of the plants too.

A survey has found that the number of flying insects has dropped 60% since 2004 in the UK. Life on Earth depends on insects and insects need wild plants for food and shelter. However, in Leicester, pavements, parks and green spaces are routinely sprayed with glyphosate weedkiller, killing all wild plants. Leicester Friends of the Earth have a petition asking the City Council to stop using weedkiller in parks and green spaces. They are planning to present it in a few weeks.

Given the vital role that insects play in our ecosystems, and the importance of nature in helping to tackle the climate emergency, it is essential that the Council stops spraying substances that are so harmful. A single application of a pesticide can remain in the soil for three years. They affect the whole plant, including its pollen and nectar, which means they are taken up by pollinators such as bees.

Research has also linked exposure to pesticides to many health issues, including cancers, Alzheimer’s, asthma, diabetes and infertility. In 2020 the manufacturer of glyphosate paid out over $10 billion to settle lawsuits with people who developed cancer as a result of using their product. Children are particularly vulnerable to pesticide poisoning because their skin is more permeable and they spend more time playing close to the ground.

There are so many reasons to stop using these chemicals. We need more space for wildlife in our city. More plants mean more insects, more birds, more life!

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Leicester & Leicestershire Peat-Free List 2022

Since launching our 'Leicester is No Place for Peat' campaign last year, we have been contacting organisations and asking them to go peat-free. We are now ready to reveal our updated list of peat-free places in Leicester and Leicestershire! We have also compiled a list of where to buy peat-free compost locally. If you know of a shop or an organisation that should be included on our list, please contact us.

Peat-Free Places and Organisations

Avenue Primary School, Leicester

Brooke House School, Cosby, Leicestershire

Brookside Primary School, Oadby, Leicestershire

Community Harvest Whetstone, Leicestershire

Graceworks Community Garden, Evington, Leicester

Granby Primary School, Leicester

Hinckley Railway Station Garden and planters, Hinckley, Leicestershire

Leicester City Council (all gardens)

Manor High School, Oadby, Leicestershire

Overdale Infants School, Leicester

Overdale Junior School, Leicester

University of Leicester

Woodland Grange Primary School, Oadby, Leicestershire


Peat-Free Compost Suppliers

Most big chain stores selling garden supplies will have at least one brand of peat-free compost, although you may need to check labels carefully to find it!

Attfields Farm Shop, Cosby, Leicestershire

Bennett's (hardware store), Evington

Coles Nursery, Thurnby, Leicestershire

Co-op supermarkets 

Kibworth Garden Centre

For a full list of peat-free compost brands and peat-free nurseries across the UK, check out Dogwooddays’ list. The nearest peat-free nursery is Barnsdale Gardens in Rutland, which only grow using peat-free compost. You can order from them online and plants will arrive in cardboard packaging.

Supporting Stoneshollow Solar Farm

A speaker from JBM Solar came to our last meeting to tell us about their proposal to build a solar farm between Barlestone and Nailstone in Leicestershire. The planned solar farm would provide clean energy for 22,000 homes, while also managing the site to improve biodiversity. 

After the meeting, we spent some time reading the planning documents and we also visited the site before deciding to support the planning application. You can find our letter to Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council planning committee below.

If you have time before 10th May, we encourage you to visit the online planning application and submit a supportive comment. (You have to register, but it only takes a moment.) Short comments will still make a difference! You could use some of our points below or just write a couple of sentences about why you want to see more renewable energy being generated.


RE: 21/01395/FUL | Installation and operation of solar farm at Church Farm, Washpit Lane, Barlestone, Nuneaton, Leicestershire CV13 0EH


Dear Planning Committee,

We are writing to express our support for the above planning application.

We were pleased to see that Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council passed a motion to recognise the climate emergency in July 2019[1]. At the time, you noted that urgent action was required to limit the effects of global warming on people around the world. In the almost three years that have passed since then, the situation has only become clearer. There have been more extreme weather events, with wild fires, floods and hurricanes devastating communities in many countries. Currently, the dangerous heatwave in India[2] and the prolonged drought in Kenya[3] are both threatening lives. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change[4] provides a stark warning that carbon emissions need to start falling very soon if we are to avoid an unliveable future for large parts of the planet. We cannot continue to rely on fossil fuels for energy.

We have spent some time learning more about the proposal for a solar farm between Barlestone and Nailstone before making a decision that we would support the planning application. We met the project manager, Robin Johnson, and asked a lot of questions about why the site was chosen and how it would be managed when the solar panels are installed. We visited the site ourselves to look at the condition of the soil and the species of plants that are present. Finally, we also looked into some of the national debate about solar farms.

We are now convinced that this site is appropriate for a solar farm to generate clean energy and that the proposed management will lead to an increase in biodiversity.

Solar panels provide the cheapest electricity in history, according to the International Energy Agency[5]. They can be installed quickly, in contrast to fossil fuel or nuclear power plants. When generating, they make no noise and create no pollution. They do not require imported fuels to operate, instead using a source of energy available to everyone. They require only small amounts of maintenance. When they are no longer needed, solar farms can be decommissioned without leaving behind lasting damage. The site could be returned to agriculture, hopefully with restored soils. In a climate emergency, and when we are facing a cost-of-living crisis with rapidly increasing energy prices, we should be rolling out as many solar panels as possible in the UK.

The soil of the chosen site appears to be depleted, making it unsuitable for agriculture without large chemical inputs. This use of fertiliser and pesticides has severely limited the biodiversity of plant life. On our visit, we saw a small number of mainly nitrogen-hungry species growing in the hedgerow, which will support a limited range of insect and bird life. Removing these chemical inputs and seeding the fields with meadow flowers, as well as planting more trees and hedges, should significantly improve the habitat.

We were pleased to see that JBM Solar also plan to support the local community by making the solar farm accessible to walkers to appreciate the wildlife, providing educational facilities on site and supplying rooftop solar panels for community buildings. If this planning application is passed, as we very much hope it will be, we look forward to visiting in future to see the quiet generation of clean energy and the improved natural habitat.

Yours faithfully,

Hannah Wakley
on behalf of Leicester Friends of the Earth

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Leicestershire CC Waste Consultation

Leicestershire CC are running a consultation about waste, which appears to be primarily focused on residents, not groups, see Leicestershire's Resources and Waste Strategy 2022-2050 | Leicestershire County Council.  The consultation closes on the 25th April and it would be good if county residents at least would respond.

This consultation needs to be seen as part of the wider picture, for instance:

·         Peat.  One of the excuses for continued peat use is the lack of volume of the alternatives.  With District Councils in the county charging up to £55/year for green waste collection we have a disincentive for people to treat their green waste responsibly and a great incentive to add it to the black (general waste) bin.  What we really need is for councils to stop charging for green waste and proactively seek it out to turn it into compost as a peat replacement and exploit the commercial opportunity, if people don't have a home compost heap.  This aspect gets little attention in the consultation.

·         Air pollution. Landfill sites emit methane as materials rot down.  Methane is a greenhouse gas over 20 times as harmful as CO2, so allowing landfill sites to emit it is increasing climate change. With the current issues with fossil fuel prices we need to be capturing methane and using it, a win-win commercially and environmentally.  At its worst, methane leakage can affect nearby buildings, Huncote Leisure centre being a local example of how to get it wrong, see Huncote Leisure Centre to stay shut for longer over methane risk - BBC News

·         Zero emission waste trucks. While we all want to see less HGVs on our roads, we are going to be stuck with refuse trucks for the foreseeable future.  A commitment to explore more environmentally friendly refuse collection trucks would be welcome, as is already happening in Aberdeen, see Aberdeen City Council adds UK's first hydrogen fuel cell waste truck to the fleet | Aberdeen City Council which would reduce emissions and costs, long term.

With all these things we need the council to be innovative and live up to the old phrase “where there’s muck there’s brass”, because we have plenty of muck to make brass from. 

Please respond to the consultation and encourage Leicestershire to think about where waste services fit in the bigger picture.

Monday, 11 April 2022

Shop organic in Leicester

As part of our pesticides campaign, we asked around to find out the best places to buy organic food in Leicester. This is what you suggested:

  • Just Fair Trade, St Martin's Square - tea, coffee, sugar, chocolate, tinned fish, pasta, biscuits, honey, coconut milk, nuts, dried fruit, olive oil, jam, marmalade
  • Nada (refill shop - take your own containers), St Martin's Square - dried goods
  • Currant Affairs, Loseby Lane - a selection of organic vegan products, including grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, and teas
  • Green and Pleasant, Queens Road - a wide range of vegan and vegetarian essentials: dried grains and pulses; nuts and seeds; eggs; dairy; dried fruit; tinned food; herbs and spices; cereals; bread and biscuits; baking ingredients; dairy-free alternatives; juices
  • Holland and Barratt (several branches, including Horsefair Street and the Highcross) - a number of organic vegetarian and vegan products, including: dairy-free alternatives; grains and pulses; nuts and seeds; dried fruit; tea, coffee and coffee substitutes; juices
  • Leicester Wholefoods Co-op, Freehold Street - fresh fruit and veg, dried goods
  • Community Harvest Whetstone (community supported agriculture scheme)
  • Picks Organic Farm, Barkby
  • Real Refills
And some of the big supermarkets also have organic ranges. 
  • Sainsbury's - of all the supermarkets in Leicester, Sainsbury's has the largest range of organic produce. Organic products available at the larger Sainsbury's stores includes: a range of meat, fish, and dairy; soy-based products; eggs; cereals and grains; bread and biscuits; fruits and vegetables; nuts and seeds; tea and coffee; flours; gluten-free products; cooking oils; milk substitutes, and so on. It should be possible to buy an entirely organic grocery shop at Sainsbury's.
  • Aldi - a small selection of cheaper organic products, which include: milk, eggs, oats, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, bananas and cucumbers
  • Lidl - like Aldi, Lidl has a small range of cheaper organic products: milk, eggs, bananas, apples, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, cucumber and spinach
  • Morissons - a limited selection of organic produce: chicken, milk, butter, eggs, and a few types of fruits and vegetables
  • Marks and Spencer - a reasonably wide range of organic products, including: dairy; meat; eggs; grains; tea and coffee; and fruit and vegetables
If you know of places to buy organic food in Leicester that we haven't mentioned, let us know in the comments!

Sunday, 3 April 2022

Revisiting Highfields Centre and Caribbean Court gardens

We re-visited the Highfields Centre and Caribbean Court gardens that we started last autumn, to pick up litter, remove some weeds (although we also left some that have flowers for the bees!) and plant some herbs and small shrubs. It was another productive afternoon and both gardens are progressing well. It was lovely to see the spring flowers from the bulbs we planted last year.