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

Harvest

On the radio, in the garden and on the street

It’s gorgeous in the garden this week – and our very own garden club leader, Alison Skeat, has been telling Robert Elms all about it on BBC Radio London. Hear it again here [go to 01:42:10].

In our Saturday session, we’ve been watering, weeding and tidying. There’s been family gardening – people of all ages get involved in helping the garden grow. We’ve been stocking the honesty stall by the gate, where passers-by can take surplus produce for a small donation.

We’ve had a visitor come along just to enjoy the colours. And a cheery group walking the Capital Ring dropped by, visiting to see the site of the walk leader’s childhood home.

Fancy joining us? We have drop-in gardening sessions on Tuesdays from 1pm-3pm, Thursdays from 4pm-7pm and Saturdays from 11am-4pm. Or just come and enjoy the peaceful green space – we’re open to visitors every day from dawn ’til dusk.

 

Planting seeds and swapping knowledge

One week, there’s the odd tulip – the next, the whole garden is springing into life! We’ve had a busy week…

We’ve discovered that rosemary beetles (pests that munch their way through rosemary and lavender leaves) are also astonishingly-beautiful. We’ve said hello to the ladybirds. We’ve planted violet basil, beetroot and purple carrots. We’ve found out about lai pau, small salad leaves with edible flowers. We’ve done some clearing to give the fruit trees room to thrive. We’ve been introduced to edible weeds. We’ve harvested purple sprouting broccoli before it flowers. And that was just the Saturday session!

Our very own garden club leader Alison Skeat has been on BBC Radio London this week too, phoning-in about planting she’s proud of and Abbey Gardens. You can hear Alison here while the recording is available [drag cursor to 02:35:30].

Fancy joining us? Our free drop-in gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. New gardeners are always welcome.

Gathering in

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We grow things… and then there’s the gathering-in: the harvest, the storage and the knowledge.

We’ve packed our potatoes away out of the light and put tomatoes out to ripen. Some of us have been at the garden and others out to the Newham Community Gardens Network event at the lovely East Ham Nature Reserve, where we’ve compared notes with people from other garden projects and taken part in a Cordwainers Grow flax workshop.

So what’s next? To help shape our plans for the future, come along to our monthly meeting on Saturday 7 November at 2pm. And there’s our Winter celebration on Saturday 5 December – more information coming soon.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of gardening still to do, with garden club sessions continuing through the month. So come along, get active and help prepare and plant for our next gardening year.

Busy bees, a duck potato and courgette plumbing: just another Saturday at Abbey Gardens

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Our volunteers help on all sorts of tasks at our gardening sessions, whether it’s delicate thinning-out or the big digging jobs. And there’s plenty to watch, marvel at and enjoy. So what have we seen this week?

The week’s comedy vegetable: ladies and gents, we present the duck potato
Bees still finding plenty of pollen in the dahlias
The visible ‘plumbing’ in a courgette stalk
The reason why we built such a large cage to protect the purple sprouting broccoli plants (they’re huge)

And we’ve shared a magnificent harvest of beetroot.

A date for your diary: our Winter celebration on Saturday 5 December. Join a festive wreath-making workshop, enjoy the fairylit Winter garden and warm up with soups and hot drinks. More details soon.

Harvest Festival East: Saturday 26 September

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Harvest Festival East
Saturday 26th September 2015 1pm-4pm
Abbey Gardens, Bakers Row, London E15 3NF (next to Abbey Road DLR station)
A free event for all ages

Come and enjoy a celebration of the year’s gardening, with contributions from all corners of our community:

Young people from the National Citizen Service, Team Perham, will be leading apple dunking and other activities

Think you’ve got the perfect apple tart recipe? Show us your finest in the apple tart competition!

Tour the garden with garden club leader Hamish Liddle and find out about some of the experimental crops we’ve been growing this year

Enjoy home-baked goodies at our ever-popular tea and cake stall

Quirky Nature will present a quirky gang of tasty fresh-pressed juices using organic ingredients mostly from Abbey Gardens. Come and meet Peter Green, Jack Ginger, Mary Roots among other unique personified recipes

Buy fresh produce on our honesty stall

Music, dancing and a fun workshop will be provided by Bollywood Dance Group, Tridhara

Enjoy seasonal food made by Tom Fletcher of Rejuce using harvest from the garden

All activities are free. Food, drink and honesty stall produce for donations to the garden.

Event graphics kindly donated by Catherine French.

Garden curiosities and event excitement

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Horseradish. It’s something you don’t really think about as a plant if you’re used to buying it in jars of sauce. But that’s community gardening for you, full of curiosities. This year, we’ve grown an upright variety of red amaranth, a sort of short-haired version of the glorious trailing dreadlocks of Amaranthus Caudatus. And our black tomatoes, strange fruit to start with, are giving us all sorts of novelty shapes. Teapot in need of a handle or cartoon character’s head? We can’t quite decide.

Thinking of growing your own? Community gardening is a great way to gather skills and ideas. Come and see us on Edible Gardens Open Day, Saturday 19 September. Our garden club session will be running from 10am to 4pm so you can see us in action and find out how to get involved.

Our next event: Harvest Festival East, Saturday 26 September, 1pm-4pm. Save the date for a celebration of all things grown and local, a free event for all ages. It’s part of Urban Food Fortnight. More information soon!

 

Honesty, comfrey and comedy veg

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Pluto or Gromit? We can’t decide. Either way, finding comedy vegetables in the harvest is one of the fun bits in growing your own.

There are stories too and saving Honesty seeds Chris got us chatting about grandparents who always seemed to have a vase of dried Honesty in their homes.

And each session, there’s always a plant we see that we’ve looked at many times but never noticed something beautiful about and this week, it’s Charlie’s comfrey. We love the elegant, forked stem.

Curious about how the garden grows? Next Saturday at 2pm it’s our monthly meeting, where you can find out what goes on behind the scenes. And of course, there’s our usual garden club session from 10am – 2pm.

Save the date: our Harvest Festival, Saturday 26 September 1pm – 4pm. Watch this space for more information…

 

Grow your own party: the Abbey Gardens Summer Fete

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It’s nice when a grand day out comes straight from the neighbourhood. We’ve had delicious food made from our produce by Vegan Peasant. Our very own brass player, Cath French, has brought along along Regent Community Brass and friends. We’ve had stories from the land: writer Neil Fraser has read from his book Over The Border: The Other East End. We’ve had a cabin-full of local history to delve into. Our volunteers and neighbours have been baking for our tea and cake stall and contributing quiz questions. There’s been a treasure hunt around the garden (enjoyed so much by our young gardeners and visitors that they wanted to do it all again). There’s been portrait drawing by illustrator Fred Apps. And we’ve had a cheery group of Newham Volunteers helping on our stalls.

A big Abbey Gardens thank-you to everyone who’s given time and brought talents, to all of our regular gardeners and behind-the-scenes volunteers who make the space beautiful and productive, a round of applause for our administrator, fundraiser and ideas person Vicki Lewis, who organised the event – and a wave to everyone who came along to enjoy the day.

 

Our gardening year

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As the first green shoots point from midwinter to the season ahead, we’ve taken a quick look back through our 2014 gardening season. And what a busy year we’ve had…

  • Our composting toilet has been built by our volunteers;
  • We’ve tried-out different potato varieties;
  • Our Spring event has launched our Year of the Pumpkin – and brought us some some marvellous scarecrows;
  • Part-time administrator Vicki has helped behind the scenes and brought new ideas to the garden;
  • We’ve grown new varieties of tulip in the garden, including species tulips;
  • Old friends and new neighbours have joined us for The Big Lunch;
  • Our Summer Party has brought us knowledge on herbs and helpers from Newham Volunteers;
  • Years of hard work on our fruit wall have paid-off in a hot summer with delicious crops of apricots and peaches;
  • We’ve had our first watering workshop, to help our gardening volunteers to understand the different needs of our plants;
  • There’s been tasty food, from lovely chefs Vegan Peasant, from our volunteer bakers and at garden tastings;
  • We’ve grown our first black tomatoes and peach-skinned tomatoes;
  • Runner beans have been grown on hoops and a netted cage built to protect leafy greens;
  • We’ve joined-up seaside fun and gardening with Pumpkinhead (thanks Public Works!) launched at the Mayor’s Newham Show;
  • Thanks to a lot of research and hard work by Dasha, we’ve made cucumbers into gherkins and herbs, roots and flowers into teas;
  • Our ingredients have starred at the EastTwenty Local Feast;
  • Our honesty stall has made an appearance at the Art Moves event at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park;
  • Our Pumpkin Fest has been our first event with special pre-planned planting (and some very inventive cakes);
  • We’ve tried-out out larger-scale planting of overwintering crops;
  • …and we’ve rounded off the year with a warming Winter gathering to the festive sounds of the Regent Community Brass Band.

And we couldn’t have done all of that without our trustees, our volunteers, our funders, our supporters and our garden club leader Hamish. A happy New Year to all of you and to our friends in other gardening projects. Here’s to a great 2015 gardening season.

If you can’t wait for our garden club sessions to resume in the Spring, two dates for your diary: the Winter garden club session on Saturday 10 January from 10am-4pm with our monthly meeting at 2pm and our AGM (Annual General Meeting) on Saturday 7 February (venue to be confirmed) with another special gardening session from 10am.

 

 

More tea! (and a stumpery)

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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.