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Harvest season for Green Gym and Tree Pit Gardens

Tree Pit Gardens
After the summer that presented with a challenge due to the combination of long drought spells as well as the periods of persistent rain, the Tree Pit Gardens in Tunmarsh Lane are still looking lush and colourful.
The volunteers, known as ‘Tree Pit Gardeners’ held two maintenance sessions in summer, replenished a lot of plants and added some new ones. The sunflowers planted in March have bloomed spectacularly and yielded a good crop of seeds, and the plan is to have a gathering to hull and pack the seeds to preserve them, and give out to residents to grow next season. This will be a good opportunity to discuss the group vision, and bring up applying for grants to spread and develop the Tree Pit Garden project across South Plaistow. Please watch this space and our Facebook page for announcements on date and time, and how to book.

Green Gym
With their new home ( the container donated by Triio Group ) painted dark green and all their tools and furniture moved, The Green Gym volunteers have turned their attention to planning events for the community, and have set their Winter Celebration and Tree Planting date for Sunday, 22nd November in the Orchard on the Greenway. Times are still to be finalised, but there will be hot refreshments provided for all who join, with plenty of activities to keep warm and do good for Nature.
Plans are also underway to add new hand painted signage for The Orchard to guide the residents around, advise on what is planted and add artistic dimension to the surroundings. So look out for bright wooden signs around The Orchard next time you visit for a walk.
There is also a plan to roll out series of foraging walks with the local nature expert, to encourage residents to visit Greenway and The Orchard, and learn what edible plants and fruits can be found in winter months on our doorstep.

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Sunflowers on the Greenway…but not only there!

Enterprising MasterCard Corporate Volunteers planted 50 sunflowers on 1st May on two stretches of the Greenway between Barking Rd and Boundary Lane…and they are coming up! Young, strong seedlings are fighting their way up along the fence, against the odds..

Helped by the watering of passers by, and last Friday evening by the group of young Cornerstone Café Girls Group, they are slowly but surely gaining height-we can’t wait!

The display cards  dotted along the fence asking for seedlings to be watered are raising interest of Greenway user too.

Just earlier today two plucky walkers, Chris and Glennys visited the  sunflower growing site on their epic Capital Ring walk, commended the efforts of the volunteers and said how impressed they were with the Greenway on the whole!

They promised they will be back in a few months to see the sunflower in bloom…now that is the sight we are all eagerly awaiting!

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Tree Pit Gardens in bloom…

The spring is in full swing, and the Tree Pit Gardens on Tunmarsh Lane are in bloom…and looking glorious. Continuous hard work by our local volunteers-Tree Pit Gardeners, regular watering and weeding have resulted in an abundant display of lupins, lavender, anemones and dahlias…with the imminent arrival of poppies and gladiolas in the coming weeks! Gardening Club Plus volunteers have also been lending a hand in making sure the Tree Pit Gardens are looking their best, and some of the plants that have ‘wandered off’ have been replaced, few new added, and bulbs are coming up too.

If you have not cast your eye at them before, I invite you to take a  stroll down Tunmarsh Lane…its not quite a Chelsea Flower Show…but its a flower show nevertheless!

Tree Pit Gardeners had a meeting at the end of April, and asked for a water butt to be installed- and it is now in place, thanks to the handiwork of one of the local builders, who also happens to live next to the Tree Pit Gardens!

It will serve the three Tree Pit Gardens at the corner of Upperton Rd Wes and Tunmarsh Lane, but can be used for all of them, as the owners of the house kindly allow access to any volunteers who want to give a hand with watering during the dry season(which is coming up, if the forecast is to be trusted).

Serco have been very swift in removing rubbish that gets  fly-tipped by the street bin, allowing the Tree Pits to show off their beauty…but that spot remains a particular painful point for the local residents, and we have been promised by Newham Council and Plaistow Neighbourhood Team that it will be monitored for the next two months, to identify whether it qualifies for CCTV- which is what the residents want, and have been asking for.

There is one more Tree Pit  on the same stretch of the road that is up for a make over, so any of you green fingered enthusiast would like to help create another wonderful display of plants and flowers, please get in touch with Milena at milena@plaistowsouthbiglocal.org.uk, or 07388-406-499. This make-over will take place in the next few weeks, and is wholeheartedly supported by staff at Tunmarsh Centre, as it is right outside their main entrance. The staff at the Centre have pledged to keep a watchful eye, and water as necessary.

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Gardening Club Plus gets their ‘green fingers’ in Tree Pit Gardens on Tunmarsh Lane

Following a successful pilot of ‘Adopt a tree Pit’ initiative by PSBL Green Spaces and Streets team, five out of seven Tree Pit gardens have now been adopted since February 2019,thoroughly transformed with hard work and dedication by local residents living nearby, who also look after them.

Three months on, to give residents a helping hand with maintenance, Gardening Club Plus has expanded their twice-monthly meet-ups to now include  Gardening at Tree Pit Gardens once a month as well, so we are now meeting every 1st,3rd and 4th Wednesday  at 10 am for socialising and nurturing plants-and friendships!

The Tree Pit Gardens are now a point of conversation, passers-by stop to admire them, and compliment us on the gardens looking lush and colourful, people driving past and tooting their horns in support and even a few ‘thank you so much’ shout outs! The local dog owners have been very respectful too, as they do not let their dogs disturb the plants or leave ‘deposits’ when they curiously sniff around the Tree Pits.

Last Saturday,27th April, we also had our first ‘Tree Pit Gardeners’ meeting, where we discussed challenges of growing public community gardens (stolen plants, littering, fly-tipping, vandalising), and where to source out water for watering the Tree Pits Gardens during dry spells-and we came up with a great solution: Water butt to be installed in one of our Tree Gardeners front gardens, for everyone to use during the dry spells. The minimal amount of plants that grew ‘legs’ instead of roots has already been replaced by PSBL, and there are plans to sow more seeds over the coming months to keep the Tree Pit Gardens beautiful. Our next Tee Pit Gardeners meeting will be at the end of June, hopefully ending with the picnic.

There are funds available to transform the remaining two Tree Pits on Tunmarsh Lane (one in collaboration with Tunmarsh Centre and their Children’s Play group), so watch this space for more greenery on Plaistow Streets!

We also meet at The Orchard on the Greenway, where we are in the process of creating a ‘Herb Garden’, as well as at ‘The Mix’, where we shelter from cold and wet weather, and run cooking or creative workshops of some sort in winter.

 

If you are interested in getting involved- by donating plants and seeds, volunteering, creating beautiful and lasting legacy in our neighbourhood, as well as making new friends whilst doing a spot of gardening, please get in touch with Milena via e-mail on milena@plaistowsouthbiglocal.org.uk 

 

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Plaistow resident Ian Noon sows the seeds of change!

I met Ian in Autumn 2017 at the Barbers Alley, when we gathered to meet with local residents with intent to revive the Alley. It was clear then that Ian has a lot of great ideas, and is a plucky local himself…We met again at the Citizen Assembly last November, and struck up a conversation about gardening and growing, to which Ian exclaimed: “I reclaimed the tree pit in front of my flat in Baalam St, and the first shoots are popping up already!”

What a delight to hear that there are locals ready to take a positive action without waiting for the Council to approve it…I then shared with him that us at PSBL Green Spaces are ready to roll out a pilot scheme ‘Adopt a Tree Pit’, and that we identified a few of them near the junction of Tunmarsh Lane and Beaumont Rd. We have contacted Newham Council to ask them if they allow us to populate them, as well as to ensure that they are not sprayed with weed killer.

So- are you up for it? A small on-off grant from PSBL will be available to buy soil, plants and a small border. All we need from you is a willingness to grow and maintain your tree pit, water it in dry periods and show commitment for at least 12 months. You can treat it as your own mini-garden. This scheme is particularly suitable for those with no gardening space of their own.

Please contact Milena via e-mail on milena@plaistowsouthbiglocal.org.uk to request application form and to find out more.

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Enjoying the fresh brew and fresh air with Noons…

Daffodils are already shooting up in Ian’s tree pit..

One of the resident-maintained tree pits in Hammersmith and Fulham.

 

 

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Mint Chutney Making Workshop-Wednesday, 3rd October 10-11.30

Following a great Success of Lemon Curd making workshop last week, we have organised another foodie workshop for all condiments enthusiasts (and lovers of all things green).If I could just describe the aroma of lemon and sugar wafting in The Mix for hours afterwards- we were all getting high on lemon scent, and left the workshop in high spirits, smiling!

One of our gardeners and dedicated volunteer, Neena, will be showing us how to make a Punjabi Mint Chutney with Green Chillies. Participants would need to bring a few utensils from home, and we are providing all the ingredients.

It is bound to be another fun workshop, there will be tea and biscuits for peckish cooks, and you will able to take your product home, to be served with lamb or roast potatoes. Bon appetite!

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Notes from the Orchard

Wednesday, 18th April

Gloriously sunny and warm this morning, hardly anyone passing the Orchard on the Greenway. I sit on the bench, preparing today’s session and sipping a cup of tea from the flask I brought. The birds are singing on the nearby apple tree, just showing its first tender blossom. Am I still in London? I feel so far removed from the hustle and bustle of nearby Regents Lane, the sound of cars, busses and people waiting at the bust top drowned in greenery of the Greenway.

I have a look at the planter.Radishes have come up, being sown two weeks ago…so small, just two leaves each..but hardy. Tomato seedlings did not survive, must plant new ones. Strawberries and nasturtium look healthy and are sprouting new leaves. I wage a war on sycamore seedlings, few passers by wave ‘good morning’, looking with interest at what am I up to- I invite them to join me, but they have other plans.

Time for another cup of tea. My regular companions are not here this morning, and I miss their animated chatter, but the peace and serenity of the place soon overwhelm me. I wonder, would anyone else feel the same sense of belonging and joy amongst the Orchard trees? Until next time, hope you can join me on the 2nd of May. 🙂

PS. I made a decision to come back to the Orchard later on today, after work and do some yoga and writing. This not- so-secret spot is drawing me back with its simplicity and calm.