Features

Watch this space

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In the second of two articles, Marian Temple of the Wanstead Community Gardeners keeps a watchful eye on a special space, now known as the Cherry Pye Bed. Photo by Geoff Wilkinson

All the twenty-something patches adopted by the Wanstead Community Gardeners have a name. We gave this traffic island between The George and the station the fanciful name of the Cherry Pye Bed when we took over the wider end some four years ago.

It’s a puzzling name for those not familiar with the quirkeries of Wanstead history. The reference is to a plaque on the wall of The George facing the station. The plaque dates from the previous 18th-century pub, the old George and Dragon. The wording is as follows and should rhyme:

In Memory of
Ye Cherry Pey
As cost half a Guiney
Ye 17 of July
That day we had good cheer
I hope to do so maney a Year.
RC 1752 D Jerry

The meaning of this is lost in the mists of time. A cherry pie would not have cost half a guinea: 10 shillings and sixpence, or just over 50 pence in today’s money. A considerable sum in 1752. Could this have been something to do with a bet? And who were RC and D Jerry? Evidently, a good time was had by all.

Since the first flowers – Californian desert bluebells appeared in June – we have been treated to a procession. Some of them not recognised, but favourites include scarlet flax, Californian poppy, cornflower and English marigolds. We wait with interest to see what comes next. This patch has proved popular with everyone, including the passing drivers. Some even hope for a red traffic light so they can sit and look at the flowers!

This sort of project is not maintenance-free, especially on a patch neglected for years. We are constantly weeding to try and give the new plants less competition. Next year, we intend something different and will be laying turf with a perennial mix of wild flowers. A lot of hard work initially, but the turf should establish easily and its use will reduce maintenance. Obviously, this project is not finished and we are learning as we go along. Like the words of the 1752 plaque, we hope our patch of flowers will give good cheer for many a year. Cherry pies for the workers always welcome!

Definitely a ‘watch this space’ situation.

For more information on the work of the Wanstead Community Gardeners and to get involved, visit wnstd.com/wcg