Posts tagged ‘London’

March 25, 2012

I like

by growingpeople

…the way my clever students at St Mary Magdelene Primary School use egg shells, empty tins and crisp packets for starting off seedlings. Happy days. Speaking of which, now is the time for starting more or less everything (keep the beans, tomatoes and pepper seedlings inside until May though, and hold off on sowing pumpkins, squash and courgettes at all until then).

October 26, 2011

Secret London Garden #8: Forest Farm Peace Garden, Hainault

by growingpeople

 

For lovely Naomi’s birthday we took a trip to the Forest Farm Peace Garden on Hazelbrouck Gardens in Hainault – so far East London that it’s technically Essex. The nine mile cycle to get there from Hackney quickly turned in to fifteen after getting lost a dozen times – but we did find a nice apple tree on the way, somewhere inside the Roding Valley.

This garden, built on an abandoned site is sumptuous – part allotment, part community garden with an eclectic mix of users (and hence an eclectic range of crops) – it is also deceptively large and feels self-contained somehow – as if you could spend days here and always have something to do. Don’t be put off by their website (or lack of) – it’s a truly inspiring (and beautiful) place.

When we visited, on an apocalyptic grey Sunday in October, the garden was open for the Abundance Open Day. An enormous apple harvest had produced the most delicious, dark brown, thick apple nectar I have ever tasted and was being sold for next to nothing along with piles of the apples themselves, chutneys, pumpkin curry, potato stew and clear East London honey, courtesy of Andy Casson who keeps bees on the site.

The open days are held fairly regularly so keep an eye on the website or join the mailing list to be kept informed.

 

 

August 23, 2011

Secret London Garden #7: Wilton Estate Orchard, Wilton Way

by growingpeople

The  longer I do this urban food growing thing, the more I find going on. Which makes sense obviously, but I never cease to be amazed by the range and scale of the projects that communities are setting up. The Wilton Estate Orchard (which also includes a sizeable vegetable garden) comprises 7 types of apple, pear and plum trees and is the result of  a collaboration between the Wilton Estate Tenants and Residents Association (WETRA), Hackney Homes and the London Orchard Project. This fairly recent charity, founded in 2009, partners up with local authorities and community groups, helping residents set up orchards as well as providing the training they need to maintain and harvest them – their website informs us that in the past London was full of orchards: hospitals, universities, prisons and other institutions each had their own, meeting all their fruit needs.

The orchard is located on an unlikely bit of green space running along the corner of Forest Road and Greenwood Road.  What’s nice is that there’s nothing very secret about it at all, it’s right there, opposite the rather good pub and the Costcutter, and yet I bet most people who walk past it daily don’t realise what it is. Heading into the estate you’ll find the slightly more secretive and very lovely vegetable garden which is maintained by the young residents.

July 22, 2011

Secret London Garden #5: The King’s Cross Skip Garden, Pancras Road

by growingpeople

“After the Olympic Park, this is the biggest building site in London”, says Paul Richens, the King’s Cross Skip Garden‘s enthusiastic and wonderfully knowledgeable gardener who shows me around – which is what makes the choice of location for this growing space so remarkable. The garden is located right inside the Kings Cross Central development, home to Eurostar, the new underground station, the nearly-finished University of the Arts campus and future-home to dozens of new office buildings and flats, the whole lot scheduled for completion by 2020. It is, as the name suggests, entirely constructed in a series of recycled skips, and designed to be a travelling garden, hoisted up and moved to new sites around the development as building work progresses.

Building work is in fact due to start at the garden’s current location on Pancras Road in the coming weeks, and it will shortly be re-housed at the other end of the building site on York Way. It will be interesting to see how its new location changes the feel of the space, which is heavily influenced by the juxtaposition of the station’s Gothic architecture, the Eurostar terminal’s metal and glass cladding, and the rubble of the building site, all visible from the garden and defining its very nature. With another 8 years to go before the site’s completion, there’s a real question mark over how, and more specifically, where, this garden may go next and what that will mean for its development and preservation.

Paul explains the garden’s design to me: each skip represents an element of a full-blown garden, so there is a poly-tunnel skip, an orchard skip, a root skip and so on, all powered by what he’s called the Green Engine – the skip housing an impressive wormery and huge tufts of Bocking 14 Comfrey, the organic gardener’s secret weapon when it comes to mulching and nourishing the earth. The skips aren’t just filled with earth, but instead contain wooden beds and a set of stairs down the centre of each one, so that the student gardeners who come along to help Paul maintain the site have easy access to all areas of the growing space.  Educational workshops and talks take place in the garden’s “bio-dome”, the cosy tent space at the rear of the garden.

each skip contains one ton of soil, arranged in beds and accessed through a set of stairs

(left) Paul at work (right) the Green Engine

(left) the Orchard skip (right) the Eurostar terminal overshadows the garden

(left) tumbling alpine strawberries mark their territory (right) the view from the educational tent

The project is an initiative of Global Generation, an award-winning organisation that provides young people with opportunities to get involved in environmental and sustainable projects, under the themes of “I, We and the Planet”, and has been heavily supported by the Guardian, Camden Council, Capital Growth and Big Lottery.

July 9, 2011

Secret London garden #4: Dalston Roof Park, Ashwin Street

by growingpeople

Initiated by the wonderful Bootstrap company, the development trust responsible for the funding of a multitude of local creative and social enterprises since 1977,  the Dalston Roof Park sits on top of the company’s Print House HQ .

The Roof Park is part food-growing project (in which local residents can participate), part astro turfed summer hangout and part cultural space, its summer program packed with film screenings, live music and poetry readings, complete with a pop-up bar serving cocktails, cider and other refreshing beverages.

Become a “Friend of the Dalston Roof Park”  (free and open to all) to get access to the Park at any time – you just need to fill out a form on Bootstrap‘s website.

The Roof Garden’s fourth-floor view of Dalston Lane’s mix and match approach to architecture


the re-purposed beach hut serves as pop-up bar on summer nights from 4pm

rocking the astro turf

June 1, 2011

Secret London garden #3: St. Mary’s Secret Garden, Pearson Street

by growingpeople

It’s very difficult to photograph St. Mary’s Secret Garden in a way that gives an accurate representation of what this place is all about. Sensory garden, herbaceous border, fruit trees, vegetables and woodland all meet here to create this unique horticultural project which serves as both community space (local residents have keys) and therapeutic garden, welcoming adults with mental health issues, terminal illness, and physical and learning disabilities to help maintain the site. Tucked away behind the Hoxton end of Kingsland Road, this is another of those beautifully still spaces in which it’s easy to forget that you are minutes from the creeping traffic of Old Street and Hackney Road.

The sheer quantity of the planting here is overwhelming – and the garden’s layout so full of curves and hidden pockets – which is why my photographs cannot begin to do the space justice. However much time I spend here, I will continue to be surprised by previously unnoticed little chunks of space (or a sink, suitcase or walking boot) with something fantastic growing in it. The garden offers a full program of courses and events, and is reliant on the work of its volunteers.

(above) A re-imagined chest of drawers, a boot, a toilet (or three), a washing machine drum and a baby’s car seat all serve as planters at St. Mary’s Secret Garden.


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May 25, 2011

Food maps and other things

by growingpeople

I’m a big fan of maps, and I’m lucky to be married(ish) to someone who draws them for a living. Reda has taught me much about the medium’s potential for analysis and presentation and together we are always on the look out for innovative ways of representing space and the information it holds.

With sustainable living and food growing being the issues “du jour”, there seems to be no end to the out pour of creativity which merges design and all things “green”, or which begs us to re-imagine the landscape we inhabit. The maps below are an assortment of some of my favourites.

Artist Ceri Buck’s Invisible Food map was commissioned and produced by Artangel Interaction with support from the National Lottery. It details the location of wild food growing on the Loughborough Estate in Brixton, South London.

Mikey Tomkins draws our attention to the vast amount of unused, potential food growing space in his “Edible Map of South Hackney”. Click here for the proper, interactive version.

These hand-coloured images were produced back in 2009 for the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe). Concrete, tarmac, cement and brick have been removed, leaving only the green – gardens, parks and waterways.

Stephen Walter‘s hand drawn maps are possibly the best thing I’ve seen in recent years. The Island (2008), 140cm x 200cm, depicts the 33 London boroughs as a collection of supermarkets, pubs, CCTV cameras, clichés, secret goings on and hidden gems. It’s the kind of piece which will always offer something new, however many times you’ve seen it, and I urge you to explore it in full here.

Global meat imports

Global meat exports

Global fruit imports

Global fruit exports

worldmapper features nearly 700 maps, re-sized to present a range of startling information on subjects ranging from house prices to voting rights.

And finally…

This map of Hackney and Homerton from 1827 shows St. John’s Church, Well Street Common, the odd building and a whole load of fields. Morning Lane, Homerton Row and Paradise Row are unchanged, while Grove Road seems to have shifted South before it replaced Grove Street.

May 6, 2011

Secret London Garden #2: Garden Barge Square, Reeds Wharf

by growingpeople

The residential barges that make up the floating Garden Barge Square are moored at Downings Roads Moorings, Reeds Wharf – east of Tower Bridge on the South side of the Thames. These 200 year old moorings were very nearly the victims of closure at the hands of Southwark Council (who deemed the set-up an “eyesore”) a few years ago, but a successful campaign and cross-party support have enabled them to overthrow the eviction notice and stay put.

Which is a great thing, because as well as being a floating garden, the moorings house over seventy people, including several families with children, businesses and artist studios. The gardens themselves are built onto the roofs of the converted barges, which have been topped with huge metal trays and then filled with a thick layer of soil, the barges then joined together by a series of bridges and walkways. Self-seeded wildflowers first sprung up on the barges in the mid 1980s and provided the inspiration for the further planting up of the floating gardens. The rooftops are now home to an abundance of herbs and flowers, a quince tree, Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Fresia’, Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae, ferns and an apple tree. Evergreen and silver-leafed plants such as lavender and Stipa tenacissima are particularly well adapted to the dry and windy air of the Thames.

As well as contributing to the character of the historic wharf it occupies, Garden Barge Square provides a habitat and shelter for Thames water birds and river fish, and maintains sustainable standards through its numerous Ecological  Initiatives.

Sadly for us (it is a private residence, after all), Garden Barge Square is not open to the public for much of the year, but can be viewed from the wharfs. The Gardens are open for public visits once a year, however, as part of the Open Garden Squares Weekend, which takes place on the 11th and 12th of June.

May 5, 2011

Foraging for food in Lower Clapton

by growingpeople

Back in January, I discussed the virtues of the Silverberry, or Elaeagnus x ebbingei, one of the only berries I know of which is ripe in the early spring. The one I walk past every day grows within the gardens of a residential care home, and  is now fruiting heavily. So this afternoon, after weeks of waiting for the berries to ripen, we went and picked a bucketful.

I’d been on the look out for suggestions of what to do with the berries for ages, but the only thing anyone seems to be doing with them is making jam. Until I came across this recipe on the fantastic Gardenbytes, (the owners of which “explore everything from foraging to formal gardens” in NYC) where the bright red berries are blended to a pulp (use a hand moulis with large holes so that the seeds are left behind) and baked into bread. You can also try these as a coulis, sweetened with honey.

Many thanks to the staff of the Median Road Resource Centre for letting me come into the gardens and strip the bushes bare!

April 24, 2011

Secret London Garden #1: The Scented Petal Garden, Wilton Way

by growingpeople

Starting off a new series of posts on London’s hidden green spaces is the Scented Petal Garden, situated within the grounds of Boscobel House on Royal Oak Road but best viewed from the pavement of Wilton Way (particularly on a sunny afternoon when the south-facing garden is bathed in light).

(l) a unicow, a penguin and flying fish watch over the garden, (r) Petra and one not very helpful helper

Maintained by the estate’s junior residents with support from the tirelessly brilliant Petra the garden is a frenzy of colour and creativity. The flowerbeds are watched over by Unicow, George the Ghost, Guerepowee (half gorilla half bee, since you ask) and Drumfly among other ingenious creatures, and the walls tell tales of blushing frogs, flying elephants and a gentlemanly worm.

Members of the Boscobel House Scented Petal Garden Club will be showing off their talents at the Wilton Way public street party on April 29th, unveiling their hand painted giant tea pot and two gold and gem laden rocking thrones alongside their many other creations.  The club will also have a designated wall space opposite the Wilton Way Café where party goers will be able to make their own artwork to take home with them as a souvenir of the day, and their handmade crowns will be passed down the street party banquet table so that grown-up partyers will get a chance to be King and Queen for the day.

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