Abbey Gardens viewed from the Webcam

Squash Surprise

We had a good time at the St Mary's allotments open day on Saturday and we hope met some potential new recruits for the Harvest Garden. When you see what they can do with squash you know why we want to sign them up!

More images over on Flickr


The wild flower mix has come through at last
The wild flower mix has come through at last

Photo: Nina Pope

Come & join us on Saturday August 16th for an URBAN SEED DAY at Abbey Gardens ...

We will be gathering and sowing some seeds for next year's Harvest Garden and talking more about our long term proposals for the site. Joining us for the afternoon will be botanist ROY VICKERY (of South London Botanical Institute) for an informal afternoon of WILD FLOWER SPOTTING, FOLKLORE, SEED GATHERING & SEED SOWING.

We will be at the garden, which is opposite Baker's Row in East London (Near West Ham or Stratford tube) from 3pm-5.30pm. The event is free but booking is advised via our contact page.

The event is supported by Newham Council & Friends of Abbey Gardens, we will also have some exciting seeds from the wonderful Chiltern Seeds to give away. If you have seeds gathered from your own gardens do bring some along to swap - Louise has already given me loads of poppy seeds from her West Ham allotment.

Refreshments, materials & equipment provided. Sorry, no unaccompanied children under 14.

St. Mary's Allotments Open Day

If you're planning to come to our urban seed day (see above) you might like to make an afternoon of it and also visit the wonderful St. Mary's Allotments also in Newham, they're off Queens Road and the entrance is opposite Princes Terrace (E13 9AJ).

I believe the open day runs from 12.30 - 3.30 pm (On Saturday August the 16th) and there will be a marquee with produce etc. Judging by our visit a few weeks ago on the Harvest Walk it would be well worth the trip.

Research trip

A different project took me last week to Somerset, a place overflowing with good gardens. As I'm never driving home it's never possible for me to visit the many outstanding nurseries frustatingly, though last time I visited East Lambrook Manor, one time home of Margery Fish, a gardening heroine of mine not least because she always gardened in a nice frock.

Anyway, this time I spent one of my evenings at a lecture by Mr Paul Atterley of Antiques Roadshow fame, on Arts & Crafts Homes and Gardens. All very interesting but the venue was even more impressive - Hestercombe Gardens, a turn of the century extravaganza, with a Victorian terrace leading to a vast sunken garden (pictured here).
I turned a rare moment of isolation in the garden to good use, when I realised that some of the critical dimensions of the lower terrace compared with many in our proposals for the Abbey Garden site. For example, just seen on the right, the raised terraces are about 2 metres high around this main terrace, the height of a landform / ampitheatre we have proposed. It felt right - neither intimidatingly high nor too halfhearted. The design is also similar in some ways to the triangulated Harvest Garden we have suggested getting underway in 2009.

Champagne Harvest

'Champagne' with sweet peas from Louise's allotment
'Champagne' with sweet peas from Louise's allotment

Photo: Nina Pope

We drunk the elderflower champagne at the end of the Harvest walk on Saturday ... and it slipped down very nicely! Some people asked for the recipe so here's the link again.

What Will The Harvest Be? - The Walkers

On the greenway between allotment visits
On the greenway between allotment visits

Photo: Tim Olden

Thanks to everyone who came along on the walk on Saturday, Karen & I really enjoyed it!
Thanks also to Len, Janice, Gordon & Louise for opening up the world of Newham
allotments for us, and to the Friends of Abbey Gardens for the food in the evening.

For those there (& those who missed it!) you might like to see my pictures on Flickr

Aquilegia Mixed

Can be sown now for flowers next year
Can be sown now for flowers next year

Seeds from Saturday

Aquilegia for our first seed collection
Aquilegia for our first seed collection

If you got a packet of seeds from us on the walk these are the plants they were gathered from ... Aquilegia ... seen here growing on the allotment started by my Father in law Derek Olden. I grew these from seed last year and they flowered beautifully in April/May. I've gathered enough seeds for about 30 packets - not bad! The only trouble is I can't remember exactly which type they were, so for now they're just Aquilegia (mixed). If you grow some from seed this year the mature plants can be added to next years 'Harvest Garden' we hope to create.

What Will The Harvest Be? - The Seeds

Work on the seed packets for the project
Work on the seed packets for the project

I've been preparing some packets of seeds to give away on the walk we're planning for Saturday. I must say I'm quite pleased with the packets (although if any one knows where to buy seed envelopes in bulk on-line do say!) the idea is to link the seeds to both the site/person who collected them and eventually to an on-line database of plants in the Harvest Garden. We're interested to see if we can link the real garden to an on-line audience and personalise the plants and gardeners at the same time.

See above for where these first seeds were collected from.

Walking Weekend

This Saturday July 12th you can walk & talk with us at the initial event for WHAT WILL THE HARVEST BE? We will be leading a walk starting from Abbey Gardens around some of Newham’s other green spaces:

3.00 pm Abbey Gardens (Bakers Row)
3.15 pm West Ham Park
4.15 pm St Mary’s Allotments
5.00 pm The Greenway
5.30 pm West Ham Allotments
6.00 pm Abbey Gardens - Picnic

Come & join us for the walk to hear more about our proposed projects for Abbey Gardens and meet some Newham residents with green fingers. Following the walk there will be an informal gathering for a picnic & bar-b-que with the Friends of Abbey Gardens, which you are also very welcome to join. Feel free to bring along some food (especially home-grown!) Elderflower drinks will be available made with the flowers I gathered on the site.

To book a place on the walk please email us.

For those who have yet to visit Abbey Gardens, the site is located at the end of Bakers Row, Stratford, East London E15 3NF

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