We can't do anything about the weather but we can offer a day out to look forward to -
Explore science, innovation and design in the garden at our FREE event for all ages on Saturday 20 April from 2-5pm
The launch of our new Eco-Shed designed by students from London
Adventures in Household Knowledge with Public Works and our veteran innovator Charlie
A plant science safari
Find out about the new bird box project
Have a go at one of our innovation activities
Q&A with garden club leader Hamish
Goodies on the honesty stall
Visit our refreshment tent for tea, coffee and home made cake
All activities are free. Tea, cake and honesty stall produce for donations to the garden.
The Chiltern Seeds catalogue has arrived (always a winter joy!) and we’re looking forward to the new gardening season.
Saturday 12 January has our first monthly meeting of the season at 2pm. But that’s not all…
If your new year’s resolution was to get more exercise, come and join in with the big shed clearout from 10am.
We’ll also be hearing the latest from the London Metropolitan University students on their design project looking at the back boundary.
This will be a special Winter session at the garden – there will be another on Saturday 9 February before our AGM. The garden club season will start in March: keep an eye on the FOAG blog for details.
In the meantime here is one of my favorite pictures from last year at Charlie's mega-birthday celebration - courgette cake with nasturtium flowers.
The nights are drawing in and it's time for our (now) annual winter event ... hot soup, tea and cake and this year you can make some VERY stylish wrapping paper with Lydia! Do come along.
Winter Chill - A free event for all ages
Saturday 24 November 4-6pm
Ages ago we were approached by the nice team from Metro Publications about a new book of London Gardens ... I'm gald to report that the book is now out and we are the 'W' feature!
I had a great time at the launch event (at the Garden Museum) meeting other gardeners from the East End of London.
Help us celebrate our fourth gardening season with a traditional anniversary theme of fruit and flowers:
* Come and enjoy a delicious meal prepared by
Gary and Elisabetta from Abbey Gardens produce
* Listen to live jazz from Arch1 house band
* Enjoy the event workshops including flower arranging, chess, flower photography, drawing, and children’s crafts
* Explore the garden on one of our garden tours
* Find creepy crawlies in the bug hunt
* Watch a video and slideshow about the history of the garden
* Submit your masterpiece into our annual cake decorating or flower arranging competitions
* And there’s our ever-popular honesty stall and tea and cake stall!
All activities are free. Some activities are at set times including:
Flower arranging workshop – 2:30 – 3pm
Children’s Craft activity – 2:45 – 4pm
Flower photography workshop – 3:30 – 4pm
Bug Hunt – 4:15 – 4:45pm
For consideration in the competitions, entries should be
submitted before 4pm.
Food, Tea, cake and honesty stall produce for donations to the garden.
Friends of Somewhere 'We Made That' have designed a new playspace very near to Abbey Gardens and it's opening with a couple of launch events over the next few days. If you've got kids and live in the Newham area why not visit the Abbey Gardens Harvest Festival AND the new Wild Kingdom all on Saturday!
Weekend Wild Play Activities at Three Mills Green
Saturday 22nd September, 11am – 4pm
Come and explore the new playspace with the help of Wild Playworkers and wildlife photographers.
Monday 24th September 2012
3 – 6pm at Three Mills Green
Join We Made That for the official opening of the Wild Kingdom Playspace! You will find a giant water slide, picnic feast, entertainment, performances & much more amid the new exciting landscape of Three Mills Green. All welcome!
The sun shone, visitors came, many tomatoes were admired, cake was served and some great new patches were made for Lydia's mega-blanket. All round a success ... roll on year two we're ready!
NGS, RHS ... It's all go at Abbey Gardens -
On Saturday the 8th of Sepetember (10 - 5 £2 entry) we're opening up as part of the NGS scheme for the first time.
On Saturday the 22nd of September (2 - 5 FREE) it's our annual Harvest Festival
AND two peaches made it past the local kids to actually being ripe!
Alison Gibson, a member of the Friends group, recently wrote this great article for the RHS Growing Communities Summer magazine. You can download the whole magazine here but I have also pasted the text about Abbey Gardens below. Thanks to both Alison and the RHS!
Artists and residents create a community garden from an inner-city waste ground in one of London’s poorest boroughs. Author: Alison Gibson.
It was an unlikely route to a harvest festival, walking past
grey tower blocks in a run-down part of East London without even a
window box in sight. Against such a background, the
colour and cheerfulness of Abbey Gardens was nothing short of
stunning for visitors to the community garden’s first harvest
festival in 2009. it felt like walking into a painting, and the
effect was instantly uplifting. Dramatic sunflowers 6ft tall were
like welcoming smiles at the centre of 34 long raised beds bursting
with flowers and vegetables.
Along a back wall were the intriguing words “What Will The harvest Be?” in large orange letters.
On that day, the harvest was a bountiful one, enough to treat 200 local residents to a free lunch cooked on site by visiting chef Sam Clark of the restaurant Moro.
Bunches of sweet peas and bags of vegetables were available for donations from an honesty stall, a gesture of trust that is typical of the garden’s spirit.
Three years earlier, this garden did not exist. The 80m x 30m
rectangular site was overgrown and neglected, inaccessible to the
public and regularly abused by fly-tippers and vandals.
Unbeknown to most residents of newham, the site was one of only two scheduled ancient monuments in their borough. Deep beneath soil long contaminated by nearby industry lay the remains of the gatehouse to a 12th century Cistercian abbey. Monks once ran a productive kitchen garden here. There had been an enjoyment of food, an exchange of cultures as visitors brought spices from other countries.
In 2006, a group of local residents formed Friends of Abbey Gardens (FOAG). “The main motivation was to develop the land into a communal and social space, driven and governed by residents and users,” says Andreas Lang, a founding member of the group who also designed the garden’s characterful honesty stall and trugs. The group hoped that lots more people would be inspired and get involved, which was essential to the success of the project. The land was leased from the local council.
Artist duo Karen Guthrie and nina Pope were approached by FOAG
and won a commission to create an artwork on the site. They were
both self-taught gardeners interested in local food production.
Consultation with local residents showed that there was a lot of
interest in growing food, but little experience, knowledge or
They devised a two-phase plan, the first part being to create a temporary harvest garden as an experiment so that FOAG could try out their ambition to grow their own food on quite a large scale. The second part of the plan was for a permanent, more carefully landscaped garden.
It was a photograph that inspired the design of the harvest garden, one that caught Karen and Nina’s attention when they were researching local history. A group of unemployed men in July 1906, dressed in the clothing of their different occupations, standing in a line on the day that they were arrested for taking over a vacant plot of land to grow food. The men were known as the Plaistow Land Grabbers.
“It was an inspiring image and story,” says Karen. On a wall in the photograph are the words ‘What Will The harvest Be?’, which Karen and Nina took as the name of their project. A blown-up copy of the photograph now covers the front of the cabin at Abbey Gardens. The name of the men’s endeavour, Triangle Camp, and the shape of their garden inspired the triangular design of the raised beds at Abbey Gardens.
To overcome the contamination problem, the site was covered with a protective membrane, and new soil was brought in. In the first year the choice of plants was restricted to those that would grow in one season. “We wanted people to see it go from nothing to a full garden,” says Nina. Seeds were donated by Chiltern Seeds in Cumbria.
The choice of bold colours rather reflects the boldness of the project. Unlike the usual allotment system, everything is grown communally. The garden is maintained by volunteers at three drop-in gardening sessions a week led by a paid gardener.
There are no rules about how much work a volunteer has to do or how much produce can be taken, and somehow that works well.
The garden is also open to the public every day. This was a risk because the project could have been ruined by vandalism and theft. “We had a strong hunch that if it looked good enough people wouldn’t damage it, they would respect it,” says nina.
Abbey Gardens is now a thriving, much- loved garden run by a
Friends group that has grown to 60 members, with 20 nationalities
between them and a variety of valuable skills. The temporary
experiment appears to be here to stay. The garden is also enjoyed
by many more people, whether it is workmen who eat their lunch
there every day, mothers walking with babies, or visitors who
Lydia Thornley, a founding member of FOAG, says, “i’d been planning to move out of London for some outdoors and community. This project has made me feel rooted – literally – in the neighbourhood.”
The Friends of Abbey Gardens is an RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood group.
Floating Cinema and Friends of Abbey Gardens invite you to join us
for an alternative East End celebration and social outdoor film
night at the most glamorous community garden in East London - yes
At dusk, Marcus Coates' brilliantly inventive film 'Vision Quest: A Ritual for Elephant & Castle' will be screened, and there may also be a chance to get a sneak peek of nearby fireworks! Refreshments from garden produce will be served and you are welcome to bring a picnic, drinks will be available for donations.
Please be aware this event coincides with the Olympic Opening Ceremony, so we strongly recommend walking or cycling to the garden to avoid transport / access problems.
Friday the 27th of July from 7.30 - 11.00 pm
To book a place please RSVP to laura 'at'