Category Archives: Community

‘Container Planting’ Loving these ‘succulent’ spike heels

I just had to share this photo from Kerry Michaels – find her on twitter on @containergarden or at

You really can plant pretty much anything in any shape, size and form of planter. It’s ever so ‘wicked witch of the west-esque’ don’t you think? That really appeals to me – reminds me of playing Evileene, the wicked witch in ‘The Wiz’ at school. Hahahahaha….
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Tea is the glue that keeps me together…

My mug of tea

I love tea – really, I do. I worship at the altar of the tea plant, a hot, steaming mug of Yorkshire tea or a delicate vintage china tea cup of Assam will do me nicely thanks. Which leads me onto this quote

“If you are cold, tea will warm you.

If you are too heated, it will cool you.

If you are depressed, it will cheer you.

If you are excited, it will calm you.”  ~ Gladstone, 1865

Another sunday at the Childrens Gardening Club


We’ve (that is myself and my four year old son) been going to a childrens gardening club for quite a few weeks now. It started in chilly March and now we’re starting to see results!
We have a laugh (the parents enjoy it just as much, if not more… than the kids sometimes) – and occasionally my little boy just wants to run around or dig for worms, but the important thing is, he’s learning about how food is grown. The children are all mortified and excited by the fact they’re  gardening with ‘horse poo.’ Today we learnt that our beans had been attacked by rabbits, so we moved the hazel poles into another spot in a ‘less secluded’ spot! Gardening is always trial and error. Out of all the modules the kids had planted out, the marrows, squash, sweetcorn and courgettes were flourishing – perhaps because the seed is bigger and easier for small fingers to handle.

Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed picking salad, oriental leaves, spinach, radish and then cooking it back at home. Perfect Sunday morning…

Ruby Red Radishes.

Sowing Tomatoes, Tea & Sympathy

Try as I might, I can’t always blog on the day things happen. Life usually gets in the way – but anyhow, THIS is what girlwithaspade and friends got up to last week at Workshop 24, Peel Precinct, South Kilburn.

"The best time of my life"

Twas a bitterly cold, rainy day, so I decided to host a tomato sowing workshop. The photo above is a quote from the guestbook at Workshop 24, courtesy of Adriana age 10, who came along with her friend to plant tomato seeds in peat pots. Makes your heart sing…I am sooo glad that I saw this. This is one of the best times of my life.”

To have an impact like that on someone so young is a real honour to be honest. That’s what makes working on community projects so worthwhile.

Fairytale of an inner city borough…

I’ve been lucky enough to work on a project that the Empty Shops Network and South Kilburn Partnership are running. Dan Thompson (artist, writer and founder of the Revolutionary Arts Group) is heading up this particular initiative. You may have heard about it already, or perhaps you’re working on it too! 

Window vinyl designed by Steve Rowland of Made Labs, Workshop 24

The Peel Precinct, (Carlton Vale, South Kilburn) is an area which is being regenerated in several phases. At first glance you may notice a deprived inner city London borough. However, like most things in life, once you start to scratch the surface; talk to people and work alongside local residents:  an inherent beauty becomes apparent. Workshop 24 is a pop-up shop/arts centre/community space/venue/hangout situated on the housing estate precinct. Until recently it was a derelict shop which has been transformed into a bright, lively and inviting space.  People come and go, drop in for tea, learn new skills, make, mend, do, write, paint, sew, garden, read, draw, film, record, observe, chat, tell their stories and chew the fat.

Dan 'working hard and being nice to people' in workshop 24

After a day at Workshop 24, I come home feeling lifted and enthused. It’s strange, after a while you look beyond immediate surroundings and concentrate on the spirit of the place and how it can be improved.

So what, you may ask have I been doing there? Well, as someone who does ‘stuff’ with gardens, runs workshops, improves outside space and writes about it, I’ve been cleaning and greening up the precinct. The photo below shows me clearing and weeding the planters with the help of two lovely lads from the local Islamic School. These kids stayed with me for over an hour, got their hands dirty, weeded, hoisted bags of rubble and were a pleasure to meet. We had a good old chat about their lives, their school and their futures. Their expectations are high: They’re studying hard to get into university and I’ve no doubt they’ll get there.

Planting tulips and weeding


My mantra is: “If you’re going to do something, you may as well make a start.” Although this was a freezing December afternoon, and not your typical gardening weather, we ’ve been greening, cleaning, weeding, clearing, preparing and planting areas of the Peel Precinct. I also planted a load of red tulips in the raised planters. These were very kindly donated by the Millbrook Garden Centre, Gravesend, Kent. Many thanks to the management of the garden centre for supporting us.

Parallel lines and Sixties structures


Today was a good day!

Today was a good, a very good day. Here’s a little example of what I got up to…

Getting plants ready to brighten up the Peel Precinct

Buying Saraccoca at Hampstead Garden Centre. Berries for the birds.

The Secret Vegetable garden…

If you walk down Rochester high street in Kent, you may notice a hairdressers called,’The Cutting Crew.’ This is no ordinary hairdressers – hidden away behind the back of the shop is a walled vegetable garden that has been brought to life and tended by ‘man-about-town’, club promoter, sharp dresser, hairdresser, gardener and vintage clothing expert Steve Riddle.

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Less than a year ago this garden was an overgrown junkyard, full of nettles and weeds. Steve decided to clear it out and the results are astounding. In less than a year he’s created a mini allotment. It’s become a real talking point in the community and customers are now coming in and swapping seeds and plants. Steve and his colleagues have given lots of their produce to local businesses, as well as having tasty supplies for lunch in the back garden! Everything is organically grown, the soil was already fertile, because nothing was growing there apart from nettles which fertilised the soil every year.

Beetroot, radishes, cabbage, onions, sweetcorn, courgettes, herbs, rocket, potatoes, carrots, pak choi, squash, strawberries and french beans are all growing in abundance. Not a bad crop for the first year eh?! Even the scarecrow is suitably stylish – clad in 70’s retro and a Chinese straw hat. When the weather turns, Steve’s going to put her in a sowester and matching rain hat!

A stylish scarecrow