It’s almost a month since our opening party and the rain eventually stopped only to be replaced by a heatwave. Plants love this sort of crazy weather behavior and they’re rewarding us by growing in front of our eyes.

Ruby Chard wins the beauty contest and the Giant Bed of Mints get the aromatic award. Rescue Corn was plucked from ta nursery’s compost pile by Dora who brought it back for some TLC and there are green shoots!
Our beds of Three Sisters Veg are thriving although Sister Bean was too weak to cling on in the gales and we’ve had to plant afresh. The seedlings are doing well and will soon be clambering up the corn.

We’ve had our first garden meal too. Krishnaa, a local lady from Sri Lanka
took away a selection of cabbage leaves and returned with a most delicious curry for our lunch. She shredded cabbage and fresh coconut very finely and gently fried it up with mustard seeds and served it to us with fluffy rice. And I was too greedily eating to take a picture but I will next time.

We’ve had a week of ups and downs. The meal on Tuesday made us feel that we are already achieving more than we dreamed of. The garden was buzzing with activity with new plants being donated and a nice new sun umbrella bought with donated funds to shade our first garden meal. New people discovered us, we had visits from our friendly local police and were able to give out fresh herbs and salad leaves for visitors to take away.
After a day like that we were shattered to discover that we had to close the garden for two days over an insurance issue. The Public Liability cover we thought we had would not be valid without another piece of outstanding paperwork and there was no option but to lock the gates in a heatwave. The site owners Roost came to our rescue and sent Mark their Maintenance Manager over to water the garden and the plants could almost be heard to gulp and relax. After a tense day and Sarah’s persistence, the new insurance came through at about a minute to five yesterday evening and we dashed in to water after another scorching day.
We’ve been keeping this a secret, but I began pestering graffiti artist Ben Eine through his assistant Steph, back in April. Ben is famous for his huge drop-shadow letters often seen on shop shuttering in East London and Hastings/St Leonards. I sent photographs of our wall to tempt him then updated them as we cleared the space . He said he would come and paint and we decided on the word GROW. Then we waited for our Planning Permission to come through and eventually it did at the begining of June and so did the rain which came down relentlessly. Every time Ben was in the country the rain was too and the prime growing space along a nice warm sheltered wall was becoming an issue. Other wall painters offered their services but I knew that if only the right weather and a gap in Ben’s busy schedule could coincide, it would happen and be worth the wait.

Well, last night Ben and his assistants painted our wall. It’s not quite finished as bad light stopped play, but they’ve promised to return sometime over the next week and after a complimentary meal at the Taj Mahal, I’m guessing they’ll want to comeback to Western Road quite regularly.

Our garden and its wonderwall have shone a very bright and positive light onto Western Road and its getting better all the time.



If you’ve been following the blog you’ll know about the tons of rubble we’ve been shifting around the site. No matter what we did with it, it was still an eyesore and we had to get rid. So last week Nicole and I were on a pallet foraging trip onto the local industrial estate anyway and thought – why not visit the skip company at the same time?

We asked for the boss who was out but we got lucky because the very nice guy in the office had seen the garden on TV and the word was passed along.  By the end of the afternoon his boss called with the offer of a free skip for a day.
We know our limits and while we’re good at bag filling and wheelbarrow-ing we recognise the need for some serious muscle to get the heavy stuff into a skip. So, we asked friends, family and passers-by and on the morning …they appeared.

Teamwork ruled the day and the skip was filled and on its way back to the depot within three hours. And the really fabulous thing was how well the team of strangers bonded and left the garden as friends.  They exchanged phone numbers, made plans to meet up and of course also offered to come back and help us again.

So THANKS A MILLION to French’s Skips and to our amazing & strong skip fillers.
We couldn’t have done it without you.

WANTED: ‘Horticulturalist in residence’

Following our successful bid for funding from the Foreshore Trust, we are now looking for a local, dedicated plantsperson, expert in growing fruit, vegetables and herbs, who can inspire and enthuse a wide range of people to get involved in growing their own food. They will need to be happy to work on their own initiative, promote what they are doing, reach out to the community and be a welcoming part of our exciting new community garden project.
If you think this might be for you, check out the project brief below, which includes details on how to submit a proposal. As we want to make the most of this growing season, the aim is to appoint someone to start as soon as possible in August and the contract would be for a period of 6 months. The deadline for submissions is 23 July 2012.


The garden is such a suntrap because it faces due south and as yet lacks the softening
effect of trees or other greenery. It feels like the South of France at times but then the heavens open and we’re back in England. We’ve put this together in such a short period of time and are now playing catch-up with rotas, set opening times and a steering group. All these things will come to pass.

In the meantime, I’ve photographed the containers today and could practically see things growing taller in front of my eyes. The rain and sunshine have worked their magic and the dreaded slugs haven’t found us yet.

We have planted circles of The Three Sisters in 6 containers. Its an old Native American system where corn grows tall with a bean planted beside it to climb up and also add nitrogen to the soil. A pumpkin is planted in the centre of the circle where its broad leaves cover the ground keeping the moisture in and the weeds away.

Everyday new people come to visit and we’re starting to make a note of their wonderful comments.  Many require an exclamation mark….and some may need a few asterisks.

Feedback is good.

After the ecstasy, the laundry

Woman standing behind plants

There’s a different kind of energy in working on a project to create something to a deadline than to its ongoing care and maintenance. After all the hands on hard work and buzz of pulling together to build the garden in time for the opening event, we are now enjoying the mellower pleasures of pottering around the garden checking on our new plants and making sure they get off to a good start. There’s still more to do to complete the garden, (is a garden ever complete?), but we now need to focus on the practicalities of how it will be managed into the future. We are waiting to hear if we have been successful in our bid for funding from the Foreshore Trust for a ‘horticulturalist in residence’ – someone to provide expert veg growing advice and support, and be a regular presence on site. But we also need a band of trusty volunteers who can commit to being in the garden at certain times each week – then we can publicise opening hours to the wider community rather than our current rather vague, come in when there’s someone there approach. Given the wonderful enthusiasm of everyone who’s been involved so far, this shouldn’t be too difficult.

Oh and in case you were missing that buzz – here’s a little reminder from the BBC South East team who visited the garden last Friday as we were working to get it finished, (skip to 22:15 minutes into the programme):

And it’s featured on the BBC website:

Onwards and upwards I say!

PS – the rather strange blog post title is from meditation master Jack Kornfield’s book about how after achieving the realization of enlightenment – after the ecstasy – we are faced with the day-to-day task of translating that freedom into our imperfect lives – the laundry. Luckily I love doing the laundry –  especially when it’s in a garden.