Former Petrol Station Verge

Initiated 2018

The site does not appear to have a future as a petrol station and the owner is perhaps hoping for a change of land use to apartments. Therefore it has lain dormant for several years.

The perimeter verge has been an eyesore for decades and the presentation of the vacant garage car park through the fence does not create an inviting image to visitors coming in from the Kentstown Road. Persistently sprayed with weedkiller the narrow 90m strip has fairly sterile soil with high quantities of gravel, and is exposed to the stiff south-westerly breeze. 

Our multi-year project aims to improve the sites presentation by eventually creating a screen of plants.

2018 View from Kentstown Road

Proposed plant screen


The garage owner agreed to stop spraying chemicals and groups of volunteers planted dozens of climbing roses, clematis, and honeysuckle. These struggled in the free-draining poor soil conditions and plans to plant 100's of small alpine shrubs were abandoned due to the unusual heatwave.

After removing surface rubble the baked soil conditions became obvious and would severely hamper the schedule to plant everything in one visit. 

Pick axes were sent for to try and break the surface crust.

70 mixed climbers given time should screen off the yard and enhance the view from the road. 

Everyone took turns with the Pick Axe which is not a normal gardening tool.

Dig out the rubble to expose clay soil.

Compost mix to mix in

Plant and tie

Weather Stops Work

It's not often you hear of Irish weather preventing gardening in June! However, the lack of rain means the project has a huge water requirement and with Ireland heading towards a water crisis we decided to pause the work.

Finally signs of life a few weeks later.


Many of the climbers struggled but we were delighted to see some come into flower and attract bees.

Lilac August 2019

Honeysuckle August 2019

Solanum Crispum 2019

Due to the digging experience in 2018 wildflower seeds were trialed in a small area but even though they did flower the slope and breeze meant that they did not self-seed well.

May 2019

August 2019

We included a few sunflowers to trial growing them in public places to see if they would be left alone. The success led us to create the Johnstown Sunflower Trail.

Sunflower trial October 2019


We paused our endeavors when the road junction was torn up to accommodate the new Fargonstown road. 

Unfortunately, the works removed most of the surviving climbers.

View South

View North


Volunteers maintained the narrow strip as a summer meadow, letting grasses grow until cutting and clearing in Autumn.

View South

View North


Remains of our 2018 wildflowers

A rare remaining climber

We will replace the climbers.

We will continue to maintain the wild grasses and replace the climbing clematis, roses, and honeysuckle starting them off in pots until they are more established before planting the following season.

August 11th

Finally Berries Appear

For those keen on foraging for summer fruit then berries have appeared at our planting in 2018 at the former petrol station verge on Metges Road.

Plans for 2023

The long grasses suit the verge better than any of our attempts at planting simply because there is a lack of soil and water. Alpine plants would grow and thrive in the conditions but they're not native and not beneficial to our biodiversity plan.

Our ongoing intention is to manage the verge as a long grass meadow.

Just after weed scraping the path and prior to the verge edge being trimmed. May 30th

Sustainable Development Goals

This project has connections with the following categories: