January 2020


Stems, Scent & Snowdrops

IMG_2208A view of Ruth’s garden on Empress Avenue in Aldersbrook

Ruth Martin, Chair of the Aldersbrook Horticultural Society, will be talking about winter gardens at the group’s January meeting. Here, she offers tips for keeping your garden interesting in the bleaker months.

At January’s meeting of the Aldersbrook Horticultural Society, I will be speaking about gardening for winter interest, using my training  as a garden designer and my Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) qualifications to explain how to make sure the garden is as interesting in December, January and February as it is in June, July and August.

For me, this has become even more important in my retirement, because now I look out on to my garden every day and not just at the weekends – the only time I used to be at home during daylight hours!

At the event, I will look at using evergreen shrubs to create a framework in a bed or border, using as examples, shrubs which flourish in my own garden and in local gardens such as yew, choisya, fatsia japonica and sarcococca, as well as shapely conifers. I will also show how herbaceous perennials, which are evergreen or semi-evergreen, can be used in the border to avoid the all brown look of the winter garden, for example, penstemon, acanthus and vinca.

Using examples from the winter gardens at RHS Wisley, the Saville Garden in Windsor Great Park and at Anglesey Abbey, I will show how plants with coloured stems can really light up a winter garden, especially if they are planted with an eye to colour and contrast.

In my own garden, I have planted cornus, using their orange stems to contrast with the silver trunk of birch trees and red stems against a backdrop of brachyglottis, a low-growing evergreen shrub.

Shrubs that flower in the winter have a very strong perfume to attract the lone bees that will still be flying at that time. My favourite is the Daphne, which has a heavenly scent, but there are plenty of others like sarcococca, mahonia and hamamelis. As well as talking about the above, I will also be looking at the tiny delicate bulbs that grow in winter – snowdrops, aconites and Iris reticulata. These can be planted in pots, tubs and window boxes as well as in borders in the garden. They provide a dash of colour, sometimes peeping through the snow in January and February, a time of the year which can be bleak.

We also hope to organise a members’ visit to the winter gardens at Anglesey Abbey in the middle of January – please contact me if you are interested.

Ruth’s talk will take place at Aldersbrook Bowls Club, 34 Aldersbrook Road, on 14 January from 7.30pm (visitors: £5). For more information, visit wnstd.com/ahs or email eruthmartin1954@gmail.com

Enjoy a party night with your artist neighbours

20191211_151558At the Art Trail Wanstead 2019 party thrown by sponsor Stow Bros

It’s party time for members of Art Group Wanstead on 23 January.

“As the group plans for the 2020s after running Art Trail Wanstead for a decade, new ideas and organisers will be needed. A short meeting will be held at the beginning of the night… Please bring some finger food to share; a bar will be available,” said group founder Donna Mizzi. Artists interested in joining the group (membership is free) are welcome to attend the event, which will be held at Wanstead House community centre from 7pm.

Visit wnstd.com/art


Rebels with a Cause

IMG_9662Members of Wanstead Climate Action at last October’s protests in London

When Wanstead Climate Action hit the streets to draw attention to the climate emergency, they also had the mammoth task of answering the public’s concerns. Vanya Marks offers an explanation.

“Get a job!”“You’re a hypocrite!” “It’s all China’s fault!” Becoming a climate activist has been a baptism of fire and the Extinction Rebellion I joined in October was nothing short of an emotional whirlwind. Two weeks swinging between joy and hope to despair and anguish left me an empty husk at the end of it.

I could only have got through the ups and downs thanks to the group of amazing Wanstead folk who have teamed up to form Wanstead Climate Action. During the rain-soaked fortnight of protest, we laughed, we cried, we sang, we marched and mostly, we tried to draw attention to the climate emergency – through peaceful means… and a little bit of civil disobedience.

For us law-abiding citizens, this wasn’t something we did lightly. But the powers that be have known about the dangers of climate change for decades and have had years to act on the multiple threats we face. These include loss of biodiversity, species extinction, air pollution, deforestation, melting ice caps and sea levels rising, ocean acidification, soil degradation and extreme weather changes; the list goes on. And thanks to the heroic efforts of activists like Greta Thunberg and figures like David Attenborough, these are now getting on the agenda like never before.

However, Extinction Rebellion (XR), with whom we align ourselves, believes that the government, despite Parliament announcing a climate emergency last spring, has not done anything near enough to address the problems. According to the United Nations, global heating of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels will carry risks for nature and people – but these risks will still be less than higher temperature rises, which is why it’s such an important target. To contain warming at 1.5°C, man-made carbon dioxide emissions would need to be cut by nearly half in the next decade and reach ‘net zero’ by mid-century. UN scientists say this will need rapid, far-reaching changes in land and energy use, industry, buildings, transport and cities.

By taking to the streets, blocking roads around Westminster, gathering at financial institutions in the City and at London City Airport, plus multiple other marches and protests, XR is trying to make the government act before it’s too late. When the government isn’t taking necessary action to look after its people, we think civil disobedience becomes a duty.So, apologies Wanstead for any disruption you may have faced but that was, we hope, temporary. The unimaginably catastrophic consequences to human, and all, life on this planet could be permanent and irreversible. So, let’s keep up the pressure, because there’s still hope to save some of it, if we act now.

Right, back to my day job because, yes, I’ve got one.

To contact Wanstead Climate Action, visit wnstd.com/wca or email wansteadclimateaction@gmail.com

Old enough to…


In the sixth of a series of articles looking at the work of Age UK Redbridge, Barking and Havering, Priti Mistry offers more advice on how older people can prepare themselves for the winter season.

Now that winter is upon us, most homes will have had the heating switched on for several months. However, for some older people on a low income, they sadly end up leaving their heating off to make ends meet and to be able to manage their money. Therefore, I want to share some tips that will help us all to get through the colder days and months.

Keeping warm indoors
If you’re sitting down, wrap up with a shawl or blanket. You could even pop your feet up on something as the air’s cooler at ground level. If you struggle to stay warm in bed, socks and even a hat can really help you keep warm. Use a hot water bottle, heat bag or an electric blanket to warm the bed – but never use a hot water bottle and an electric blanket together.

Keeping your home warm
Lower temperatures increase the risk of flu and other breathing problems and can raise your blood pressure. When you’re older, your blood pressure takes longer to return to normal once you get cold, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The colder your home, the higher the risk to your health. Close your curtains at dusk to keep the heat in. You may even want to fit thermal linings to them if you can. Keep the rooms you spend the most time in warm. It might seem obvious, but make the most of individual radiator thermostats and keep the temperature higher in the rooms you use most.

Get a personal alarm
Winter can knock our confidence. You may not feel as steady on your feet, or you may feel a little more isolated than usual. A personal alarm can help reassure you and loved ones. If you fall or you’re unwell, it connects you to a 24-hour call centre. You simply press a button on a pendant you wear around your neck or wrist and talk to someone who will contact a chosen person to help you – usually a neighbour, friend or relative or the emergency services. London Borough of Redbridge run the Lifeline & Telecare service, helping Redbridge residents to live independently in their own homes (call 020 8708 5897).

Extra help with heating costs
It can be tempting to keep the heating off and struggle through the cold to keep bills down. But there are benefits and discounts available to help you keep your home warm. Most people born before 6 April 1954 are entitled to the Winter Fuel Payment in 2019–2020 to help with heating costs. This is a tax-free payment of between £100 and £300 paid to you between November and December (call 0800 731 0214). If you’re finding it difficult to keep up with your energy bills, get in touch with your supplier. You might be able to set up a repayment plan or have a prepayment meter installed.

For more information on Age UK Redbridge, Barking and Havering, call 020 8220 6000 or visit wnstd.com/ageuk

Seventy people register as stem cell donors at school Christmas fair

20191211_082734Ali Maclaine’s children with donor registration forms and swabs, used to take cheek swabs from potential donors

Some 70 people registered as potential stem cell donors at Wanstead Church School’s Christmas fair last month.

“This initiative was inspired by an amazing five-year-old girl from the school who has received a bone marrow donation to treat her leukaemia,” said Ali Maclaine. Registrations have continued since the event, with an additional 16 now added to the list. “We want to get to 100 new potential donors… If you are healthy, aged between 18 and 55 and have 10 minutes to spare, please get in touch.”

Email redsunhope@gmail.com


Photo Story: Anila Hussain

ichstag-berlin-2©Anila Hussain

In the fourth of a series of articles by members of the Woodford and Wanstead Photographic Society, Anila Hussain tells the story behind this image of the Reichstag staircase.

Architecture was one of the first things I photographed. It opened another door called perspectives. Every angle, every viewpoint; the structure looked so different to me.

I challenge myself to see how I can photograph one building but use every angle possible, giving it a completely different view. Great light also plays havoc with the shadows. I find it exciting. I never look at anything head-on. I still photograph everything, but for some unknown reason, architecture pulls me in more and more.

In any city I visit, I will always look for architecture and perspectives. Apart from liking what Foster and Partners create abroad and in London, my other most favourite architect is the late, great Zaha Hadid. Her curvaceous structures, which bring a feminine flair to such a male-dominated area, are jaw-dropping. The results are just superb. I think my dream job would be to travel the world, photographing her superb creations with my own added flair.

When visiting Berlin, it’s a must to pre-book a tour at the Reichstag. My advice: book it for an hour before sunset. That way, you can capture the glass spiral staircase in a wonderful light, and believe me, it’s stunning. A favourite by architects Foster and Partners, its innovative design shows one way up and another way down. The creative flair makes it mesmerising and leaves you wondering how.

Sometimes, it’s good not to stick to one form of photography. I always aspire to try everything, then chose what I adore. At the moment, I’m photographing flowers and food. Tomorrow, it could be something else. Keep challenging your abilities.

To find out more about the Woodford and Wanstead Photographic Society, visit wnstd.com/wwps. To view more of Anila’s work, visit akhussainphotography.com