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

Gardening and Horticulture

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.

 

Clearing, tending and swapping stories: Saturday at the garden

Food stories have been swapped, tomatoes tended, horseradish harvested (it’s a challenge…), three generations of a family have come to look after the seedlings they planted, a new gardener from the tower blocks has popped in to check on a chilli plant, compost queen Nancy’s mini incinerator has made light work of a pile of garden clearings – there’s been a lot of clearing and tidying – and the bees have been busy around the flowers. Did we mention rock buns? There were rock buns, baked to share. Just another Saturday drop-in gardening session at Abbey Gardens.

Fancy joining us? 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. We have energetic jobs and light jobs for gardeners of all ages and abilities.

In the garden: how our community gardening sessions work

We’ve had a number of people ask us at our Triangle Market events how the garden works.

So meet Manoj, one of our community gardeners.

Manoj and his family live in a flat with no garden. He loves gardening but his work involves being on-call. So our drop-in community gardening sessions, where unlike an allotment site, we garden and harvest together with our garden club leader Alison, are perfect for coming along when he can and staying for as long as he can spare. In that time, he’s had amazing success bringing new varieties of edible plants to the garden, including okra, as well as growing familiar favourites. At our Triangle Market, he has picked a harvest to share with other volunteers at the end of the session; surplus has been packed into paper bags and put on the honesty stall by the gate. Manoj’s family visit regularly to admire progress – and gardening skills and food knowledge are being passed to the next generation.

At each session, we also have surprises. This week, our local community police officer and another garden friend turned out to be the perfect people to identify the mystery climbing plant at the back of the garden: Clematis vitalba, which you’ll recognise later in the year as Old Man’s Beard. And pointing our macro lens at a wallflower seed pod that we’d taken apart, we discovered not just how beautiful it was but that it had a lot of seeds, so it’s now on our list for seed-saving.

Our free, friendly drop-in community gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays, 11am-4pm. Help grow food and flowers, get outdoors, get active, enjoy the beautiful urban green space and meet the neighbours!

Fourth row of pictures by kind permission of Manoj Kumar.

Food, crafts, music, poetry, history: Triangle Market at Abbey Gardens, Saturday 18 August, 12 noon – 4pm

Triangle Market is back at Abbey Gardens on Saturday 18 August, 12 noon-4pm

There are even more stalls to explore and enjoy:

Busra and Kubra Uz – Food Stop
Food Stop sells delicious and healthy Turkish food, cooling watermelon drinks and beautiful upcycled handicrafts. Local residents and sisters Busra and Kubra set up their business this Summer through Triangle Market, up the road from the Abbey Gardens.

Carlotta Novella – Veg
A brand new food entrepreneur with her heart in Italian cuisine and good ingredients, Carlotta sells veg boxes that you can preorder, packed with matching recipes. Abbey Gardens is her first market so come and make some new food discoveries!

Deborah Lesforis – Rosa’s Treats
Deborah’s cakes are little works of art. You might have seen them at Woodgrange Market in Forest Gate and Triangle Market, where she is a regular stallholder – now her cake loveliness is coming to Abbey Gardens. And there are vegan, low sugar and no sugar alternatives!

Kina Legg – knitwear
Kina sells beautiful knitwear and started selling at Triangle Market last Christmas when it had its first ever market event in the square. We are very happy to welcome her to Abbey Gardens and can’t wait to see what her talented fingers have knitted since then.

Ellie Clarke – tote bags
Ellie sold for the first time with Triangle Market last Sunday 12 August. She makes beautiful tote bags in different fabrics, colours and sizes. Ellie has a bag for every style, mood and color palette.

Ana Ramos – Alternating Stitches (a colourful blend of different things)
Ana makes beautifully playful fabric card holders, wired hairbands, vinyl decal stickers, and lots of personalised items. See her to upgrade your jewellery collection, get a new makeup bag or buy one of her collectors’ comic books.

Lora Toma – Salliro (Soap etc.)
Lora is a soap and bath bomb magician making the most amazing and beautiful creations that add lovely scents and a touch of luxury to your life. She a market expert since she is the market coordinator for PYM, the Plaistow Youth market.

Nina Magdziak Nayeem and Zara Nayeem – Zaras bead creations (Hama bead items)
Nina and Zara are a mother and daughter selling beautiful, intricate and colorful hama bead creations. Everything from fridge magnets, keychains, earrings to art pieces. They are so colourful and fun that it’s impossible to buy just one thing.

You are so Jammy Jams
Homemade jam – traditional favourites and traditionals with a twist. Flavours inspired by cocktails desserts and sweets.

Sugar Rush & More – Homemade sweets
Sugar Rush & More is a family run business of three women based in East London. They make and sell sweets, treats and cakes all with vegan and vegetarian options.

Karen Philips  
Bespoke glass vases

Peter Payne
Cartoon portraits – Peter was with us at our first Triangle Market at Abbey Gardens

Izabella Wasowska
Crocheted products

Shofa Miah
Second hand and household items

Also at Abbey Gardens this Saturday, free activities:

Local history session 1pm – 2pm – help start a local history society
Hear about local history in the setting of Abbey Gardens, which is itself a historical site containing the ruin of the Stratford Langthorne Abbey Gatehouse. Local history enthusiasts Marieta and Gareth will tell some local history stories and share their experience of setting up a volunteer-run history society.

Poetry in the garden with Newham Poetry Society: workshop 2pm-3pm using the garden as inspiration, open mic 3pm-4pm
Newham Poetry Society has been organising free, accessible weekly poetry sessions at Stratford Library for the past two years. Participants have shown that there is huge enthusiasm locally to read, listen, share, learn and perform poetry as an expression of lived experience. Members come from a wide range of ages, abilities, cultures and social and educational backgrounds. Members are energetic, ambitious, generous in sharing ideas and experiences and continue in conversation beyond the group settings. Newham Poetry Society has been branching out to local events and we’re looking forward to welcoming them to the garden.

There will be live music to enjoy from Natasha Kirke, @LilacUnderworld

And you can come along and ask us about our friendly drop-in community gardening sessions on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays, 11am-4pm. Help grow food and flowers, get outdoors, get active, enjoy the beautiful urban green space and meet the neighbours!

People and species: valiant volunteers and colourful wildlife at Abbey Gardens

In the weeks of heatwave, we’ve been hoping that a good burst of rain could give the garden a proper soaking… and it’s all come at once, a classic British summer in a day, soaking our valiant corporate volunteers from UBS. A big Abbey Gardens thank you for doing a wonderful job, clearing and tidying two of our biggest raised beds. The gloves were still drying out at our Saturday session…

The wildlife at the garden has been busy too. Marie’s sunflowers, newly-open, are attracting bees. In the strawberry bed, we’ve spotted the astonishing fluorescent yellow spider pictured above. Looking it up, we think it’s a crab spider. But if you know your spiders and can tell us more, do get in touch.

Triangle Market at Abbey Gardens, Saturday 18th August
The wonderful Triangle Market stallholders are coming to the garden for another community market on Saturday 18th August, 12 noon to 4pm. Buy produce and crafts from local businesses, listen to some live music, enjoy the garden – and this time, there’s a chance to have a go at poetry (12 noon to 3pm) and help start a history society (3pm to 4pm)!

And there will be our usual drop-in community gardening session from 11am to 4pm.

Our free drop-in community gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays, 11am-4pm. Help grow food and flowers, get outdoors, get active, enjoy the beautiful urban green space and meet the neighbours! Tools and gloves are provided. New gardeners are always welcome.

Made by our community

Who’s gardening? At our drop-in gardening sessions, we garden and harvest together, giving as much or as little time as we can spare. A plant sown or donated by one person is watered by another, people spot a task that could do with second pair of hands and offer to help, new gardeners tackle a task alongside people who know how it’s done. We share the harvest at each session, putting any surplus on the honestly stall. Sometimes, the harvest comes back, as jam, or chutney, to share again.

This week, we’ve marvelled at our West Ham grapes – too sharp to eat but most of us have never seen grapes ripen before or looked at the clever fronds they use to climb. We’ve pinched out and tied in the tomatoes, to give them support and space to ripen. A bouquet of flowers has been gathered as a thank-you. We’ve seen neat sowing by two generations of gardeners coming up as Summer seedlings. We’ve harvested tomatoes, gathered windfall apples and netted two rows of cabbages to protect them. Our brambles have been full of blackberries. And we’ve done a lot of watering, focusing on the thirstiest crops.

Our free drop-in community gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays, 11am-4pm. Help grow food and flowers, get outdoors, get active, enjoy the beautiful urban green space and meet the neighbours! Tools and gloves are provided. New gardeners are always welcome.

The next Triangle Market at the garden will be on Saturday 18 August, from 12 noon to 4pm.

Wonky veg, wisdom, food, fashion, music and face-painting: Triangle Market at Abbey Gardens

In a new collaboration with Triangle Market, we’ve had some amazing stalls arrive at Abbey Gardens for the first of our Summer events:

  • Wonky veg – colourful bags of fresh salad, root veg, leafy greens and fruit and, if you like the look of the produce but aren’t sure how to cook it, recipes to take away
  • Delicious Turkish food
  • Fabulous fashion for kids
  • Live caricature drawing
  • Face painting

We’ve had health workshops from Daljit Kaur and Talking Therapies. We’ve had a community lunch, with dishes made and brought by neighbours. And there’s been music from the lovely Lucy May Walker.

Triangle Market will be at the garden again on Saturday 28 July 12 noon – 4pm, this time, it’s all about health and history and there’s something for all ages:

  • Buy lovely things from traders with interesting stories
  • Enjoy some live music
  • Sign up for our Healing Food and Healing Mind workshops (booking required)
  • Join in with costume making for a history walk.

Meanwhile, we have our usual friendly drop-in community gardening sessions on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays, 11am-4pm. Help grow food and flowers, get outdoors, get active, enjoy the beautiful urban green space and meet the neighbours!

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.