Welcome to Abbey Gardens, a community garden in West Ham
surrounding part of the ruins of a
12th century abbey.

There are free garden club sessions and new gardeners are always welcome. The garden is open to visitors from dawn till dusk.


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In the garden:

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Gardening sessions take place on
Tuesdays 1pm-3pm
Thursdays 4pm-7pm
Saturdays 10am-4pm

Progress

Old friends, new friends: a sociable Saturday at Abbey Gardens

Our garden is for visitors as well as volunteers. The exchange of knowledge and news helps bring together our neighbourhood and our community of gardeners.

Veteran gardener, inventor and thinker Charlie has been involved with Abbey Gardens right from the beginning. Our artichoke plants, our comfrey beds, our sea kale and our tomato knowledge are all his work. He doesn’t get to the garden so often these days so it’s a treat to welcome him back on a visit, this time sporting an aubergine beanie hat. Daljit has brought meditation sessions to Abbey Gardens and new ways to use the herbs we grow for teas – and she drops by our community gardening sessions to help out. Garden club leader Alison introduces new visitors to the garden as well as running our drop-in gardening sessions.

There are always people working away on gardening task too: Lorna has been looking after the mint, George has tended and harvested garlic chives and spring onions, to share with the day’s gardeners and there’s been clearing of plants that are finished for the season and dead-heading of the calendula flowers to encourage the plants to keep on flowering.

Our free drop-in community gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Come along at any point during the session and give as much or as little time as you can spare. The garden is open to visitors every day from dawn ’til dusk.

Pictured top right, left to right: Charlie, Daljit and Alison; bottom left: Lorna.
The flowers are chilli flowers.

 

Local knowledge – horticulture and history in the garden

Our community garden is made by its people. Each person who comes to the garden brings something with them – plants, seeds, curiosity, skills, energy for getting things done, ideas, cake… and knowledge.

Today we had a visit from neighbours who told us about a fruit market that used to be nearby. Nancy’s know-how has given us our first batch of compost of the season from our own garden waste. And we had a rare and precious visit from veteran gardener Charlie, who left with sea kale and artichokes from plants given a strong start by his expert care – and a couple of freshly-baked rock buns to have with his tea.

One of the joys of gardening in this space is the variety of people that it brings together. It’s rare to walk out of the garden without learning something that you didn’t know when you came in.

Fancy joining us? Our free, friendly drop-in gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Unlike an allotment, we garden and harvest together. Tools and gloves are provided; no gardening experience necessary. Stay for the whole session, pop in to help for a short while or just come and enjoy the peaceful urban green space. 

Fruitful gardening

Propagating, sowing, planting, weeding… for months in the garden, it’s all about preparation. Then, suddenly, crops are setting, fruiting, growing skywards and ready for supports (thanks, Cath, for the Bakers Row bamboo). Nothing goes to waste: clippings go to compost and crops finished and cleared to make space for new seedlings go onto the honesty stall. On a warm gardening day, there’s been iced mint tea made by garden club leader Alison. And thanks to trustee Marie, the cabin is all neat and tidy for our next flurry of Summer gardening.

Fancy joining us to help maintain this lovely green space, get active, discover new ingredients, swap gardening tips and meet the neighbours? Our free, friendly drop-in gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Unlike an allotment, we garden and harvest together. Tools and gloves are provided; no gardening experience necessary. Stay for the whole session, pop in to help for a short while or just come and enjoy the peaceful urban green space. 

 

Planning, planting, harvesting, collecting

June! Time for planning Summer events, collaborations, activities and repairs at our volunteers’ meeting. We’ve been planting more seeds and seedlings donated by our volunteers – this week, bee-friendly flower mix and pumpkins – and seeing crops planted earlier in the season doing well. In our harvest for the day’s volunteers has been a surprise haul of new potatoes, self-seeded among other crops (we only harvest in gardening sessions or for our events, so that we harvest at the right time and can keep track of the crops we grow). And we’ve been collecting information, to build up a picture of activity over the season. And there’s been epic composting.

More events news soon…

Meanwhile, if you’d like to join us for some community gardening, our free, friendly drop-in gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Unlike an allotment, we garden and harvest together. Tools and gloves are provided; no gardening experience necessary. Stay for the whole session, pop in to help for a short while or just come and enjoy the peaceful urban green space. 

Working the land

Our gardeners are purposeful people: they turn up, often with seedlings or other garden goodies, and they get stuck in. Raised beds are dug over, compost tended, there’s planting, weeding and watering, help given where jobs need more than two hands… and there’s laughter and chat. Neighbours drop in to see how it’s going and this Saturday, there was a birthday picnic.

This week, Marie has planted marigolds among the runner beans to keep pests away, we have black cherry tomato seedlings propagated from Abbey Gardens saved seed, we’ve planted our first borlotti beans, borage has gone in for the bees, Ami has been thinning-out radishes, compost queen Nancy has been nurturing the stores of compost that have made such a difference to the soil in our raised beds and garden club leader Alison has been doing lots (and lots) of watering. No matter what time you come by, there’s something to do – a neighbour popping in at the end of the session set to with some weeding.

It’s a lovely way to spend a sunny Saturday or take a break during the week, it’s full of food and flower discoveries, it helps maintain this beautiful urban green space and, we agreed this Saturday, it’s great exercise.

If you’d like to join us for some community gardening, our free, drop-in gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Unlike an allotment, we garden and harvest together. Stay for the whole session, pop in for an hour, ask us about the garden or just come and enjoy the peaceful urban green space. 

New arrivals and old friends

Gardens: you turn round and suddenly, flowers are out, fruits are forming and there are signs of early Summer.

We’ve seen our first ripe strawberries this week, spinach has been cleared before it goes to seed and in its place are new seedlings, grown off-site by our busy band of volunteers. More new varieties of food crop are making their way into the garden, this week mooli and a spinach-like plant that grows red and turns green when cooked.

And there are old friends too: poppies and aquilegia. Aquilegia was in our first year’s planting plan by artists Somewhere, who designed the garden. Each year, it self-seeds and these delicate little flowers cheer us all over again.

If you’d like to join us for some community gardening, our free, drop-in gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Unlike an allotment, we garden and harvest together. Stay for the whole session, pop in for an hour, ask us about the garden or just come and enjoy the peaceful urban green space. 

The generosity of gardeners

People have been arriving at our gardening sessions carrying mysterious bags and boxes of plants…

Our greenhouse is awaiting repairs this season so our gardeners have been propagating plants in their own spaces, sourcing new things for us to grow and bringing us their spare seedlings. This welcome generosity is bringing with it edible crops and flowers as varied as our volunteers. And because we garden and harvest together, there’s plenty of help with choosing spaces, planting and watering-in.

The garden is giving back, as gardens do: this week, perfectly-formed mounds of healthy green herbs so lovely that we can’t resist stroking them like pets and big drifts of colour from the irises joining the allium in flower.

A date for your diary:
June volunteers’ meeting
Saturday 2 June, 12 noon at the garden 
Come along to hear about and discuss the latest on news, plans and progress.
There will also be our usual Saturday gardening session from 11am-4pm.

Our free, drop-in community gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Unlike an allotment, we garden and harvest together. Stay for the whole session, pop in for an hour, ask us about the garden or just come and enjoy the peaceful green space. 

 

Sunshine, teamwork and random parsnips

 

It takes teamwork to tend a community garden – and on a hot, blue sky Saturday we’ve had a good turnout, clearing around the fruit trees, tidying the raised beds and planting new seeds. Rows of mizuna have gone in and this year, we’re trying okra for the first time. Also new this year is our grapevine, making its way along the hot back wall. Not new but astonishing have been the random parsnips popping up all over the garden… we had no idea that they were so good at self-seeding! There’s colour in the garden too, from vigorous orange calendula plants and vivid pink allium.

Fancy joining us? It’s a wonderful time of year to enjoy the garden.

Our free, drop-in community gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Unlike an allotment, we garden and harvest together. Stay for the whole session, pop in for an hour, come and say hello if you’d like to find out more about the garden – or just come and enjoy the peaceful green space. 

Stand by your beds! We’re ready for repairs…

Our raised beds have done solid service. They were designed by artists Somewhere to last three years and they’ve withstood many years more of digging, composting and planting.

Now, it’s time for repairs – and that’s where our wider community comes in. Take a bow, FCA corporate volunteers! In one April-showers day, this energetic team of volunteers, brought to us by ELBA, dug out and cleared two raised beds.

Repaired, those raised beds will do more than grow plants: they’ll grow connections and knowledge. People from different walks of life will chat over the weeding. Neighbours from different parts of the world will swap recipes while harvesting. Little kids gardening with their families will marvel over minibeasts in the soil.

So thank you, all of you – our corporate volunteers really do make a massive difference.

If you’d like to get stuck in to some community gardening, there are many ways to get involved. Our free, drop-in sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Unlike an allotment, we garden and harvest together. Stay for the whole session, pop in for an hour, come and say hello if you’d like to find out more about the garden – or just come and enjoy the peaceful green space. We welcome corporate volunteers – if you’d like to know more, get in touch. And if you have skills to volunteer, come and say hello. 

Spring is springing at Abbey Gardens

The fruit trees are in blossom, buds are bursting into leaf everywhere, ladybirds are out and about… there’s so much to see in Spring. Even the snails are fascinating close up.

We’ve been busy moving plants from the raised beds that’ll be first for repairs, weeding and tidying to give overwintered crops and herbs some space and chatting with garden visitors curious to know what we do.

Our free, drop-in gardening sessions led by our garden club leader Alison Skeat are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm or Saturdays 11am-4pm. Unlike an allotment, we garden and harvest together. Tools and gloves are provided. Come for the whole session or just drop in for as long as you have. There are energetic jobs, gentle jobs or if you just want to come and enjoy the peaceful green space of the garden, that’s fine too.

We also welcome corporate volunteers, clubs, school groups, visitors from other community and gardening projects and academic researchers. If you’re interested in organising a session, visit, workshop or activity with us, contact us to find out more.