Jun 052013
 
Finsbury Park

Finsbury Park

As part of Out of my Shed‘s street party for the Chelsea Fringe, I was asked to judge eight tree pits that had been planted up in the local area. It’s the second time that I’ve been given this job, and it isn’t easy. Any tree pit that is planted up is infinitely prettier than one that isn’t, and who am I to judge one community-minded gardener’s plot against another? This year, I roped in gardener and fellow blogger Colin to help me.

Boy, was Colin a hard taskmaster. I was inclined to take each pit at face value – ie. what it was looking like on that particular day. But Colin’s assessments went much futher than that. He was looking for great structure, appropriate plant associations, good use of colour and more than one season of interest. All from a couple of square feet at the base of a tree!

Luckily Mr Mian’s tree pit looked great on the day AND met most of Colin’s exacting criteria, so we were unanimous in voting it the winner. The scheme was simple – mostly hardy geraniums – but there were also other perennials and lemon balm. The billowy plants were spilling over the pavement and could be seen from several metres away. We saw some other lovely ideas, too – one pit was planted with wildflowers, and another with yellow wallflowers that matched the front door of a house.

All of the ideas for the tree pits were infinitely better than those suggested on a recent Chelsea Fringe edition of Gardeners’ Question Time – Eric Robson suggested planting ground elder. The residents of N4 could show the panel a thing or two.

Jul 272011
 

Finsbury Park

Last Sunday, my friend Naomi had an impromptu lunch party.  It was still going strong at 6.30pm, when her garden was bathed in some lovely dappled shade.

The garden is the perfect illustration of just how many plants you can cram in, and how great a garden can look, if you don’t have a lawn. The front is reserved for veg and some extremely tall sunflowers courtesy of Great Dixter where Naomi sometimes volunteers.

Naomi spreads her knowledge of gardening far and wide – she’s got entire streets in her neighbourhood planting veg in their front gardens and beautifying their tree pits. As a result she’s just found out that she’s been nominated for two community gardening awards.

Be sure to check out her popular and very informative blog.

Apr 212011
 

Finsbury Park

My friend Naomi is one of the keenest gardeners I know. She gardens for a living, has two allotments and has also set up a street growing scheme in her area which has given away free seeds and bulbs, beautified tree pits and so on. One of her neighbours says that if she had been around during WW2 she’d have been in the ATS.

Anyway, her front garden is looking pretty splendid at the moment. She’s got two raised beds in which she grows mostly veg and flowers for cutting. When she started a few years ago, she fully expected some of the produce to be pinched – but it wasn’t. Although you can’t see it from this pic, among the tulips (‘Ballerina’ and ‘Curly Sue’) are mustard leaf and strawberries.

Full details of how Naomi built her raised beds can be found on her lovely blog.

Mar 222011
 

Kentish Town

Once one person starts planting in communal spaces, others often follow suit, as any guerrilla gardener will tell you. The roads around Ryland Road (see previous post) also have planted-up tree pits, and there’s a community garden area too; a sign says that it’s tended by residents. And it’s not made up of boring low maintenance shrubs either – a lot of front gardens don’t look as good as this.