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.


In the garden:

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


Sunshine turns our thoughts to Summer


Everyone who walked into the garden on Saturday said how colourful it was all looking: a sea of glorious reds, yellows and oranges. With all of this colour and a bit of sunshine, our thoughts are turning to our Summer event:

Abbey Gardens Vintage Summer Party
Saturday 8 June, 2-5pm 
A free event for all ages

Have some vintage Summer fun and find out about the history of the garden and our neighbourhood

  • Hear about our history
  • Join a history walk around the neighbourhood
  • Enter our Victoria Sponge competition
  • ‘Where did you get that hat?’ workshop for children
  • Story corner with our older gardeners
  • Collecting our garden’s history – gathering from gardeners and friends their own stories of when they first discovered the garden
  • Have your portrait drawn as a character from our local history
  • Enjoy a lunch of traditional dishes from our communities
  • Live music
  • Garden tour with garden club leader Hamish
  • Goodies on the honesty stall
  • Visit our tea stall for tea, coffee and home made cake

All activities are free. Tea, cake, lunch and honesty stall produce for donations to the garden. Cake competition entries are to be brought to the garden on the day.

We’re also taking part in Open Garden Squares Weekend, welcoming visitors from 10am-5pm.

Thank you Chiltern Seeds

Our annual thanks goes out to Chiltern Seeds who are once again supporting Abbey Gardens with free seeds for the 2013 growing season. Chiltern Seeds have proved a very loyal supporter of our garden since the very first day of seeding all those years ago, supplying us with their wonderful organic seeds. THANK YOU – it is very much appreciated by all Abbey Gardeners.

Once upon an apple tree …

It started with a simple conversation with Charlie about Milk Floats and ended with an excursion to Dany’s reclaimed timber Yard on the A12, a hot cup of tea and memories of the beginnings. Four years ago during a hot summer Dany and his team build the raised beds at Abbey Gardens. Not known to myself, Dany also introduced Charlie to the garden shortly after it opened. On our quest to Milk Float knowledge we ended up reminiscing about the olden times, fond memories of the hard working French brothers and … the apple tree which once stood in the garden and had to be cut down. I was quite protective of the little apple tree and hoped we could keep it. Common sense prevailed and we replaced it with a new tree in clean soil. I wasn’t aware that at the time Nina asked Dany to hang on to the root of the old tree for ‘some kind of art project’. And so it came to be that on an autumn afternoon I was reunited with the old tree stump. On the same trip charlie took me to a forgotten garden, across the road from Danies yard which once belonged to a school. We foraged a bag full of delicious apples many of which ended up in our honesty stall on Bakers Row. This morning they were all gone – hopefully nicely shared between the increasing number of passers by.

The remains of the Old Apple Tree

Charlie foraging in a forgotten garden

Hands-on Urbanism 1850 – 2012

Abbey Gardens is included in an interesting exhibition about Hands-on urbanism which will open in Vienna at the Architecture Centre on the 14th of March 2012. If you are around please drop in, have a look and let us know what you think. (address below)

”Hands-on / practical, involving action, based on active participation
Urbanism / urbanization; the culture and way of life of urban dwellers

Hands-on urbanism, bottom-up urbanism and irregular urbanization are not the exception to the rule – they are driving forces behind the urban development and often behind changes in urban policy. From the onset of industrialization, first in Europe and North America and then in the Southern hemisphere, to today’s neoliberal, developer-driven global city, the history of urban transformation processes unfolds as a sequence of critical situations. Gardening and informal settling are indicative of these crises. Taking root from below, these self-organized, self-help practices are dynamic and inspiring agencies of change” (Elke Krasny, curator)

In conjunction with the exhibition a book is published in German with Turia + Kant Verlag, Vienna and in English with MCCM Creations, Hongkong. The book contains 26 essays, including new texts, but also reprints of texts by Jane Addams and John F.C. Turner 356 pages, 300 photographs. Hopefully you can find a copy of the book in the Abbey Gardens library very soon.

Also accompanying the exhibition is a very interesting programme of events.
You can download the PDF flyer here.

Architekturzentrum Wien
Museumsplatz 1 im
1070 Wien, Österreich
T +43 1 522 31 15
F +43 1 522 31 17

Triangle Camp Hotel

Abbey Gardens will be part of an exhibition in Vienna which will open in March. The theme for the show is ‘Hands-On Urbanism 1850 – 2012. The Right to Green

Jennie from the Stratford Archives kindly helped us with some of the historic images and unearthed this wonderful picture of the Triangle Camp Hotel. Maybe there is an idea in there baring in mind that several million visitors will come to Stratford this summer.

The early days on film

Nina and Karen from Somewhere have made this wonderful film about the beginnings of the garden and the ‘What Will the Harvest be?‘ project, capturing the first season in which the garden was build up until the first harvest. It was made for and will be included in Somewhere’s current project the floating cinema which is touring the canals around the Olympic site at this very moment.

The floating cinema will join Abbey Gardens for our Harvest Festival on the 17th of September as a highlight and conclusion to the floating cinmas day long event: ‘The Green East: Garden Tours and Harvest Festival’

somewhere presenting Abbey Gardens at the RCA

Nina and Karen from somewhere presented What Will the Harvest be? at the Sustain Talks held at the Royal College of Art in November 2010. You can now watch it on the RCA website.

Click here to view the video of the presentation

Here is a little info on the Sustain Talks series:

Sustainable art and design at the Royal College of Art
Sustain is a showcase for the work, issues and arguments that relate to the ever-more-complex arena of sustainability within the Royal College of Art. The RCA offers a unique forum: we can open up and explore issues without the pressure solely to present solutions; and we bring the ‘systems’-thinking creativity of cross-disciplinary discussion to the presentation and discussion of sustainable practice in art and design disciplines.

Sustainability represents a key emerging institutional need across the creative and cultural industries. Our goal at the RCA is to inspire and challenge a new creative generation across the UK to embrace and address sustainability in their work, demonstrating how principles of sustainability and responsibility can fuel innovation, and support and enhance real-world strategies for change.

Sunshine in October

Abbey Gardens - Planting Garlic

Winter for me starts on the 1st of November. Something about Hallowe’en and the clocks going back in October matches the sudden shift in light during the day and coolness in the air. As October ticks away, I’m aware of this countdown to darkness and try to enjoy the outside as much as possible, which is why it was so good to drop by Abbey Gardens yesterday.

It was a beautiful, mellow day – the sun lighting up everything in a way that made us crave a nap instead of a shovel. But shovels we needed, and shoveling we did: fresh compost for the beds near the children’s (future) playhouse and other areas of the garden. Some planting also took place, notably four types of hard and soft-headed garlic. Hamish showed me how to line the cloves (we call them teeth in Portuguese) in rows, using a string held down by rocks so that they were straight, planted just under the surface and about 6 inches apart.  I planted Garlic Jolimont and Illico.

As customary, some hot water was brought over from one of the Friends who live across the street and mugs of tea were passed around. Lydia baked some delicious rocket buns and brought them in a tupperware – a life saver for me. (My energy levels were low because I’d failed to have a good breakfast that morning!) She told me they were a recipe passed down her family and it got us talking about our first contact with gardening and how that had spurred a lifelong interest in it. For Lydia, it was growing up in a farm in Kent with a mother who had learned organic fruit and vegetable growing through Victorian books; for myself, it was spending the weekends outside São Paulo at the rural community where my mother’s family comes from – being surrounded by adults who knew so much about growing plants.  We concluded that the children who come to Abbey Gardens will most likely grow up to be adults like us: in tune to this way of life, a love of nature handed down to them.

A message from Australia

Last week we have received a following message from Mr Ted Diggines who used to live near Abbey Gardens during the 2nd World War. We thought this memory of past events in our area is well worth sharing:

My name is Edward James Diggines, Aged 76, and I was born at No 164 Abbey Rd. The house we lived in was named Abbey House.
The house was badly damaged during an air raid in 1940 ,we then moved to a house in Mark St , off West Ham Lane, we had to move again to Torrence Rd ? off Romford Rd, that house was also damaged by bombs, we were evacuated with just the clothes we had on, we were moved to Wisbech in Cambs where we lived & I married in 1953 & then migrated to Australia in 1959 where we now live.
I was Eight when we left Abbey House in 1940, but I still remember that terrible night like it was yesterday, there was a gas main that was attached to the side of the bridge that went over the Railway Yards & a bomb had hit it & it burst into flames that shot into the air what appeared to me at 8yrs old to be 50 ft high, bombs had also fallen onto a tire factory that was also ablaze, the factory was opposite our house, when we came out of the air raid shelter it was what you might have pictured hell to look like, the smoke from the tires & the flames & the gas main bellowing up to the sky, there was also a paint factory, I think, that was also bombed & was on fire, my elder brother, Tom, worked there.
My sister Violet Thornton lived in Abbey Row for a number of years & had her 4 children there, I think.? About the 5th or 6th house on the right
I thought you may be interested in some of the past of Abbey House & Abbey Row

Yours Truly E J Diggines

The shed

the shed

I have to be honest in saying that I was a little sceptical about the idea of having the image of the Plaistow landgrabbers blown up and stuck on the shed, however, I have to say that I am a convert. It contrasts brilliantly with the colour of the garden and proved to be a real hit with the visitors to the harvest festival over the weekend. Well done Nina and Karen for coming up with that one ! I am still not so sure about the pink inside though……..