Before the seed collecting day at the weekend I asked Sharon Swift (from Urban Design who managed the site this year) to send us the list of plants that had been sown to see if we could locate them all ... Here's what we have:
An annual mix (approx. 40%) of White Campion, Corn Cockle, Cornflower, Corn
Chamomile, Corn Marigold, Field Poppy and Scentless Mayweed.
Along with a 'Butterfly' meadow mix consisting of 80% grass and 20% perennial
wildflowers (approx. 60%) including Birds foot trefoil, Red and white
campion, Chicory, Red Clover, Oxeye Daisy, Dandelion, Hemp-agrimony,
Common and greater Knapweed, Wild Marjoram, Black Medick, Yellow
Melilot, Wild Mignonette, Garlic mustard, Devil-bit Scabious, Selfheal,
Soapwort, Wild Teasel, Red valerian, Common vetch and vipers bugloss.
The annuals were sown to create an instant show this summer and are mainly
the ones that flowered this year. The meadow mix is there to create grassland and a more long term meadow just in case site remains undeveloped for anther year.
I think we'll be able to keep wild flowers at either end of the site alongside the Harvest Garden next year. We managed to find almost all the annuals to collect seed from - although I only found one lone White Campion.
This is one of the many orchards at Brogdale farm which I visited on Sunday - as you can see Abbey Gardens isn't the only place with an excess of fruit problem!
I left the apples from our tree to be identified (to my slight disappointment as it was a 'modern' variety they were unable to do an 'on the spot' positive ID!) and went to a really interesting talk on grafting. We're hoping to perhaps run a grafting workshop at Abbey Gardens this spring, so that if we do finally loose our apple tree it may live on through new trees grafted from the existing one. I found the whole business of grafting different tree 'tops' onto a variety of root stocks fascinating, I was so eagerly taking notes on the 'whip & tongue' method, cleft & saddle grafts etc. that the odd phrases written in haste looked really odd afterwards - "essential must have good hygiene to avoid canker". To my surprise you can even graft yourself a 'family' apple tree with many varieties on the one truck - that way you can have early and late varieties, cookers & eating apples all on the one tree.
Anyone who travels through Stratford station (East London) may have already seen the feature about Abbey Gardens in the 'Stratford Grapevine' last week ... if you missed it you can read about it here. The newspaper is a project by artist Lucy Harrison who's become a 'friend of' the project through our shared research into the area. The sort of spider drawing on the front shows how all the people who have contributed to the paper are linked together, and is a nice map of the connections made, it's interesting to see how the 'spider' grows each issue and who else we know in common.
Having 'illegally' pruned and cared for the lonesome apple tree on the site (before we had official access), the Friends of Abbey Gardens are now enjoying the fruits of their labours with an amazing harvest of eating apples from a tree we once thought to be crab apple!
You can see some photos of their labours and the produce they've made on our Flickr group.
In the meantime we sent off some fruit to the amazing service at Brogdale to try and identify the tree. In our enthusiasm we sent the apples too soon, but this Sunday I'm going there in person for the cider open day and taking three new examples along ...
ID to follow.
One of the things we want to try with the garden is making some links between the real space and the website via links embedded in the final 'signage' and plant labels. The idea is to try and collect recent history and record how the the garden (literally) grows rather than just focussing on its medieval past. While I was away on holiday Dasha (from Baker's Row) sent me this first story ...
... As you may know we have a garden full of oversized plants. I have been dreaming of offloading them to Abbey Gardens for some time. I know we that are not meant to dig and that there are future design plans. But I thought it would be OK to move just one plant in a pot. It was the Buddleia. Coincidentally there used to be a lot of these on site in the wilderness days and I thought it might be symbolic to bring one back.
Poor plant did not like the move from our shady garden to the sunny patch across the road very much. It's leaves withered but I thought if I keep it watered it would survive and come back in full bloom next year.
However ... the contractors that came to cut the grass on Monday must have thought that somebody just dumped the old, dead plant there. So they tipped it out and took my ceramic pot away!
Nevermind the pot... I decided I had to rescue the plant. So I pruned it quite a lot and planted in fresh soil back in our garden. I hope it will come back. It is a symbolic plant that Tom got from his great grandparents when he was born. They did not know that
Buddleia is a weed of East London.