Thanks to the Bulbs for London initiative by The Metropolitan Public Gardens Association and Taylors Bulbs who donated us about 1,000 bulbs we are going to have flowers galore in the spring! The bulbs were planted mostly around the edge near the fence and some in the beds. There are also groups around the monument area. They sent us a mixture of Tulips, Allium, Narcissi, and Daffodils, and a mixture of varieties.
The air was crisp, the evening chilled and the music mellow… with cakes, hot drinks and a well-stocked honesty stall, our Winter Fair has been full of good cheer for gardening friends, neighbours and visitors.
A big seasonal thank you to Cath and members of the marvellous Regent Community Brass Band, to Louis and Tim French for the festive lighting, to Cath for publicity graphics, to all of our volunteer bakers, cooks and everyone who helped on the day, to Erwan for being MC – and to the events team for organising. If you missed the event, we’ll be at the Print House Christmas Market on Thursday December 11th from 5pm-10pm, 133 High Street, Stratford, E15 2RB, with some of our honesty stall goodies including gherkins and teas made from Abbey Gardens produce.
Finally a huge end of season round of applause to our garden club leader Hamish, whose skill and knowledge have given us another great growing year (and our newest garden visitor, Hamish and Helen’s baby daughter) and to Vicki, our part-time administrator and fundraiser, whose energy and enterprise have enabled us to tackle operational tasks and take up opportunities. Three cheers also to all of our volunteers – in the garden, on the board and behind the scenes.
Our regular garden club sessions have now finished for the season. We will have special gardening sessions through the winter, coinciding with our monthly meetings: the next session will be on Saturday 10th January 2015 from 10am-4pm.
Winter Fair, Saturday 6 December, 4 pm-6pm
Visit the garden in Winter and celebrate the season with us. There will be:
- Warming winter drinks
- Soup made from Abbey Gardens’ produce
- Christmas carol sing-along led by members of Regent Community Brass Band
- Cards and garden goodies on our honesty stall
- Lots of fairy lights
- And our ever-popular cake stall
Free entry. Drinks, food and honesty stall produce for donations to the garden. So come and join us for some festive fun.
For a perfect ending to your day, why not continue on to All Saints Chorus and Orchestra’s 20th anniversary concert. They will be performing Bach’s Christmas Oratorio at West Ham Parish Church (All Saints), Church Street, E15 3HU. The concert starts at 6.30 p.m. Tickets are available on the door and are priced at £15, concessions £10.
And if you are keen to soak up some early Christmas atmosphere come and see us at The Printhouse Christmas Market on Thursday 11 December from 5pm-10pm. The Printhouse is located at 133 High Street, Stratford, E15 2RB.
From our events team
Publicity graphics kindly donated by Catherine French
There’s always something new going on at the garden. On a rainy-sunny-rainy November Saturday – just look at that sky – we’ve sampled Dasha’s refreshing new burdock tea made from Abbey Gardens burdock and by way of moving plants to a shadier spot we’ve made a stumpery, a haven for shade-loving plants and bugs.
Next up: the rebuild of the bug hotel in its new position.
With the pumpkins gathered-in, are we putting our feet up? Not a bit of it! It’s a hive of activity here…
We’ve planted, garlic, onions and spring onions and next in will be the broad beans. We’re clearing and composting raised beds for Spring planting. Santander corporate volunteers have helped clear and bag up the overgrown ivy with expert direction from Charlie and organisation from Vicki. At our monthly meetings we’re reviewing the year’s gardening and community activities and planning ahead. Loothfur has given the gardening tools a clean and polish. The garden still bright with flowers, there are busy bees in the garden too!
So if you fancy joining in, there’s still plenty to do at our free garden club sessions. With the evenings drawing-in, our Thursday evening sessions are now finished for the season but the Tuesday 1pm-3pm and Saturday 10am-4pm sessions are still going strong.
Each year our volunteers produce hundreds of plants from seed to plant out in the distinctive Abbey Gardens raised beds. It is always an exiting and fascinating process. Seeds of different shapes and sizes are put in seed trays, pots and directly into bare soil, days or weeks later the first leaves emerge and the tiny capsule of food and genetic information that is the seed has begun the journey of becoming a mature plant.
Some of the plants we have grown from seed, such as our globe artichokes, will be productive for years and become sizable plants. For others this stage is brief, maybe just one season such as the eye catching Amaranthus caudatus, but it is not the end of the story as seeds for the next generation have been produced come autumn.
Due to the continued support from Chiltern Seeds, each year we have the opportunity to increase the diversity of plants in the garden and try things we have not grown before.
To name just a few new to us this year: German chamomile and milk thistle – used in our new tea blends – beautiful and productive runner bean ‘White Emergo’, striking and long flowering Salvia horminum ‘Blue denim’, novel and tasty Tomato ‘Blue Bayou’ and Agastache astromontana ‘pink pop’ – good for the bees, each plant playing its part in the season’s dynamic performance.
Thank you Chiltern Seeds!
by Hamish Liddle, garden club leader, Abbey Gardens
Pictures by Lydia Thornley
Tomatillo! One of the things we love about community gardening is discovering plants that we had no idea existed. Or at least, some of us knew what they were but weren’t sure how or when to cook them, some of us – well, me – didn’t have a clue but photographed them anyway because they were astonishing things to look at and Hamish and Charlie knew all about them.
Want to find out more? Come along to one of our free garden club sessions. Our Thursday 4pm–7pm sessions have finished for the season because it’s now too dark to garden. But our Tuesday 1pm–3pm and Saturday 10am–4pm sessions are still going strong and there’s plenty to do, both for this season and preparing for the year ahead. Full details of Autumn and Winter garden club times here.
The Garden Club sessions on Thursday have finished until March 2015 due to the fact that Daylight Savings Time kicks in this week and it will be too dark too early in the garden for the sessions.
The Tueasday and Saturday sessions will continue until end of November.
In December, January, and February, we will only have sessions on one Saturday each of those mounts: the 1st Saturday in December, and 2nd Saturday in January and February.
Starting in March, the normal schedule will resume. Please see the calendar here.
In some ways Autumn really is the beginning of the new year for gardeners. Most work around now is preparation for next spring and summer and it’s the time to take stock and plan ahead.
Successes for this year include attractive fruits of squashes, bumper crops of massive potatoes, hot Saturday sessions eating peaches and nectarines, revitalising teas made from our own fresh picked herbs, store cupboards full of Gherkins with Czech marjoram spice mix and a diversity of shapes, colours, flavours and textures in the tomato beds.
Visitors and volunteers all have their personal preferences of plants, edible and ornamental, but most agree that the diversity of planting is one the appealing aspects of Abbey Gardens. We will be building on that by making some additions in the future. We’ll be planting more herbs including bay and ornamentals such as honeysuckle along some of our boundary fence.
We will also be growing more common vegetable types and experimenting with ways of growing carrots to increase quality and yield, although it won’t just be edibles we will be experimenting with but plants with other uses such as dye plants.
There is always a wide variety of activities to get involved with at Abbey Gardens, whether that’s getting your hands dirty or helping make those decisions for the future. The whole process of planning and evaluation is one thing that makes gardening such an interesting and engaging way to spend your time.
From garden club leader Hamish Liddle, pictured above with Nina Pope, one of the garden’s designers and a Trustee, and Alison Gibson, volunteer gardener and for several years, fundraiser.
People bring all sorts to our garden club sessions: energy, skills, ideas, even the odd comedy vegetable…
This Saturday we’ve had Dasha’s Abbey Gardens pumpkin soup, Vicki’s strategic know-how, Hamish’s gardening wisdom – and Loothfur nipped out of the horticulture meeting to harvest coriander for everyone.
What you can’t see in these pictures is the hard work shifting the enormous pile of compost at the other end of the garden onto raised beds being cleared of Summer crops. Here’s to the compost-shovellers!
And this week, we’ve waved off biologist Marleen to her new academic post in Florida – after she’d harvested the biggest potatoes of the season. Good luck, Marleen, and thank you for your bug knowledge.
The hard work goes on, in the garden and behind the scenes.