Category Archives: gardens

BBC Radio Kent

Hello – I have been away over the summer, moving house, renovating a garden, planting trees and bamboo in Brent. Time goes so quickly, but now I’m back. I was invited to work on the Kent Creative Coast programme in Whitstable yesterday by Catriona Cambell (@escapetocreate) and Southern Water. We had a thoroughly enjoyable day, talking about conserving water, ways to be inventive with mulch and how to create a coastal garden using drought tolerant plants. Photos to come soon.

I had the good luck to speak to Andy Garland and his team on BBC Radio Kent yesterday for their much loved ‘Sunday Gardening’ programme. If you fancy a listen, here is the link. I’m on around 48 minutes into the programme.

‘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 containergardening.about.com

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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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.

Inspired by something intangible…

Pure escapism...at Scotney Castle (National Trust)

I’ve always found gardening to be quite a profound experience. Cathartic, calming;  it also quietens my busy mind. I spend so much of my life on overdrive that it’s a much needed tonic. Even thinking about gardening makes me smile. Most of us are plotting, planning and organising our veg patches, ordering seeds and re-designing our outside spaces at the moment. Dark, cold, wet January days are perfect for thinking about the growing season.

I find it fascinating how, when and why people get into gardening. Once bitten by the bug, life changes overnight. For me, after years of living in London (you know the scene: flat, no garden), I bought my first house and inherited a garden (vastly overgrown and packed with bindweed) – having my own outside space was an ephipany. But there’s another story…

So, how do you know when the gardening bug has well and truly hit you? Suddenly, phrases like ‘perennial’, ‘annual’, and ‘hardy’ pepper everyday conversations. You find yourself straining to look at seed packets, stroking horticultural fleece and musing over fertiliser. Sound familiar?

In my previous life (not so long ago), I wrote articles about fashion. Now, I get serious palpitations over a new cultivar. Some of you will be seasoned horticulturists and may have grown up with gardening in your blood. My mum was a fan of the ‘evergreen’ – ‘hebes’ (can’t bear them now), the odd conifer, laurel and Euonymus (always variagated, which alas I can’t put in my garden on principle). No flowers, certainly no veg (too much mess) all neat and there to give a feeling of dark green year-in-year-out. Anyhow, I digress: I love seasonal planting and feel exhilarated to watch the garden play its part throughout the year. Things come and go, plants shoot up and die down: it’s all part of the natural order of things.

There’s an old Chinese proverb which says: “If you want to be happy forever, make a garden,”…

I couldn’t agree more.

How did you get into gardening? I’d love to know.

n.b. I took the above photo at Scotney Castle, Kent. It’s well worth a visit. For more info, see the National Trust website.