The power of fed-uppery

L1220631©Geoff Wilkinson

When Wanstead residents get fed up with something unsightly in their neighbourhood, they do something about it. It’s the power of fed-uppery, as Marian Temple knows only too well. Photo by Geoff Wilkinson

The only reason Wanstead has its cottage garden at the Corner House is that someone got fed up. That someone was me in April 2003. Just once too often, I walked past the patch of waist-high weeds and takeaway rubbish bin the garden had become. Something had to be done. It was. Just me and my mates at first, with the agreement of the council and backup of the Wanstead Society. A garden emerged that has been Wanstead’s iconic High Street cottage garden for the past 17 years.

In 2017, Daniel Slipper got fed up with the litter strewn over Wanstead’s greens and open spaces. He did something about it. The monthly litter picks were born and are now continued by our local councillors. What a difference that has made! How much better it would be if the strewing didn’t happen in the first place, but that’s another story.

In April this year, in the middle of a heatwave that has been waving for most of this summer, Peta Jarmey, one of our community gardeners, got fed up with walking past a derelict patch of weeds and rubbish that could have been a delightful flower bed. Déjà vu? Certainly.

The patch in question is the one pictured here – a long bed, 20 metres or so, that runs along the footpath connecting Cambridge Park with the roads that were cut off when the new road was put into a tunnel under George Green. It’s the Belgique end of the green and is backed by a rather handsome wall beneath which the traffic plunges into the tunnel.

Transport for London built the road, the tunnel, the wall and the flower bed. They forgot to do anything with the flower bed, and for the past 20-odd years, footpath users have walked past a strip of weeds and rubbish. Enter thoroughly fed-up Wanstead Community Gardener Peta, who walked past this dismal patch just once too often. The power of fed-uppery kicked in.

A hot April is not an ideal time to create a new flower bed, especially where there is no source of water. However, you can’t keep a good gardener down. Litter and weeds out, soil dug over, easy-going plants put in from Peta’s own garden, the Corner House garden and those of various locals who left their donations on the patch. Against all the odds, the new plants thrived, watered by a pocket army of well-wishers who brought water in plastic bottles  at the end of each hot day. They wanted this patch of flowers to do well… and it did.

It doesn’t take very long to create a garden. In less than three months, the Belgique bed was up and running. Thanks to the nearby Kindred Nursery we now have a source of water. Good-tempered plants are flowering and golden hop scrambling up the wall. There are a few empty spaces. They will be filled. Welcome to Wanstead’s latest perennial border.

Let’s drink a toast to the power of fed-uppery.

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