A grass verge, a raised bed, a thin strip and a circular patch. Marian Temple offers a potted guide to four new local mini gardens, courtesy of the Wanstead Community Gardeners. Photography by Geoff Wilkinson
As if 2020 wasn’t active enough (it was one of our busiest years ever, gardening-wise), us community gardeners have continued creating new patchwork mini gardens across Wanstead in 2021.
1. First off the blocks is the Redbridge Lane West grass verge. This has been in a sorry state for years. Kathy Taylor of Wanstead Community Gardeners applied for a Community Infrastructure Levy grant for improvement here along with the application for the flower turf for the traffic island near The George. Vision RCL prepared the soil and planted the shrubs. They are small at the moment, so locals have planted flowers there till the shrubs grow. A great improvement.
2. The second new patch is the raised tree surround on the corner of Wellesley Road and Hermon Hill. The tree, a large horse chestnut, was more than dead. We asked Peter Marshall (Redbridge Council’s Principal Arboricultural and Horticultural Officer), the ‘go to’ person for street trees, if we could adopt this raised bed as we wanted a patch of flowers in this area of hard surfaces. A new street tree was planted outside the Methodist Church, and the raised tree surround, with the hollow dead tree stump, was handed over to us as requested. The stump gives more character for the patch and rotting wood is good for insects. A thick mat of couch grass and weeds removed and seeds sown in time for rain. The resulting patch of bright summer flowers has been a delight, especially for the lady who lives in the nearby block of flats who can look straight down onto them. The flowers will seed themselves so the patch will renew itself and a pot of lavender sits in the hollow tree stump. A delight for bees, and for us.
3. Number three new patch is almost up to the Green Man Roundabout. It is a strip of soil in a recess in the wall surrounding the Ennerdale Court flats. Weeds and rubbish removed; seeds sown and favourite cottage garden plants added. The generous rain was on our side. By August, the patch was flowering and morning glories were climbing the trellis. Next year, hollyhocks and Verbascum, our tall favourites, will be flowering. Lovely for anyone passing by and especially good for the bus drivers of the W14 as it terminates there. They really enjoy our patches, so now they can have one for themselves.
4. The jewel in the crown of this year’s new garden patches is definitely the traffic roundabout further along from our flower meadow in between The George and Wanstead Station. We adopted this five years ago and called it The Island Bed. This year, Ingrid, one of our super energetic gardeners, took on the mini roundabout as a project and, with amazing speed, has turned it into a garden. A massive amount of rubbish removed, ditto ivy, to allow sun and rain to the earth. This is a full sun area and is being filled with donated plants. Lots of shouted conversations between drivers waiting at the traffic lights and passers-by on the pavement. There is so much interest and delight at seeing the island transformed at such a pace. It has something of the style of Derek Jarman’s Dungeness Garden, with interesting pieces of wood planted vertically in the earth giving it a sculpture garden look. One such piece is sprouting beautiful dark red leaves. It has no roots, but no matter. Miracles happen on Ingrid’s Isle!
For more information on the work of the Wanstead Community Gardeners and to get involved, visit wnstd.com/wcg