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Archive for the ‘Edible Flowers’ Category

Hampton Court is huge and ever-changing and one new innovation that I really enjoyed was the creation of the ‘Low cost, high impact’ gardens. Just four of them this year, but definitely some of the best in show for me. And while I’m counting, it’s always good to get your bearings at the beginning of the show. Small gardens proliferated this year and I think I’ve calculated approximately 36 small plots to see  (as well as the 12 large show gardens) if you include the Edible Bust Stop (seemingly floating around on its own in the yellow ‘Park Area’), Chris Beardshaw’s ‘Urban Oasis’, divided up into 8 distinct areas, 15 ‘Summer’ gardens and 8 conceptual spaces too.

‘Our first home, our first garden’ (above), designed by Nilufer Danis and recipient of a Gold Medal, had the lowest fixed budget of the ‘Low cost’ gardens, set at £7,000, but the simplicity of using reclaimed scaffolding boards as the only material for hard landscaping was a real winner.

Treated tree posts were used to space the boards which gave them an airy feel (and also supplied ventilation to stop them rotting),

and the mini matching garden chair was a lovely perpendicular touch too.

And talking if chairs, this witty and practical design by Will Sandy on the Edible Bus Stop area was another highlight of the show.

Sandy is a landscape architect and through rejuvenating forgotten corners along the no. 322 bus route in South London, aims to create thriving gardens which will both bring the local communities together and green up the urban landscape. Successful meetings with Transport for London have resulted in their own liveried bus stops and livery on buses along their edible route too!

Edible landscapes were also very much part of Chris Beardshaw’s ‘Urban Oasis’ project, where 8 designed areas showcased again how ornamentals and edibles (often mixing the two together), could transform unpromising or abandoned urban areas to improve local communities.

They even had a derelict space to illustrate the point,

which reminded me that despite our best efforts to green up our own urban space in Finsbury park (through neighbours planting up tree pits and growing veg in front gardens), we also still have developers in our community who are happy to leave their projects in a half-finished state from one year to the next. (Note to self to contact local council and rally neighbours to take more action regarding this semi abandoned eyesore).

Back to flowers and loveliness, but also staying on the edible theme, I loved some of the Violas displayed by Victorian Violas of Lincoln in the floral marquee. And such a sweet delicate scent too. These unassuming flowers are fast becoming some of my favourite blooms in the garden, they’re a very decorative addition to a salad , and they grow well in pots too alongside lettuces and mustard leaves.

Slightly more attention grabbing were these stunning day lilies on the Brookfield Plants stand. Hemerocalis Ruby Spider could grace any garden or salad bowl,

and H. Red Twister looked rather delicious too. Mark Diacono in his ‘a taste of the unexpected’ book has intriguing recipes for both day lily fritters and hot and sour day lily soup. Just the time of year to experiment as mine are just about to come into flower. Paul Harris from Brookfield plants explained that day lilies probably grow best in the soil, forming large clumps, but will also do well in pots if fed in spring and kept well watered throughout the growing season.

And for the first time, Mark Diacono had his own stand at Hampton Court, displaying a tempting array of edible perennials, shrubs and trees from Otter Farm in the ‘Growing for Taste’ marquee.

I was rather taken by this Szechuan pepper tree with its light, open, spiky habit and edible fruit of course.  Although it can eventually grow up to 7m high (but will respond well to heavy pruning), Mark Diacono had a 5-year-old plant that was about 10 feet tall on his stand. A great size and habit for smaller gardens and it will grow happily in pots too. Definitely a purchase for the future.

In the same marquee, Blackmoor Nurseries had some great ideas for front garden fruit growing with step over apples and pears replacing fencing,

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As rain and cooler weather are predicted for the coming Jubilee weekend, I was reflecting on how lucky we were with exceptional weather for our Chelsea Fringe event last Sunday. Neighbours in our community veg growing scheme have been getting together at ‘Cake Sundays’ a couple of times a year since 2009, for a seed give-away and to catch up with each other over tea and home-made cakes. This May, as part of the Chelsea Fringe, we invited others to join us and put on a bumper spread with oodles cakes and bunting. It was a really enjoyable afternoon.

Annie (top pic) was on hand to advise on veg growing and gave away over 200 packs of seeds (and many borage and nasturtium plants too), and I was happy to talk to anyone about the delights of edible window boxes. (Giant red mustard leaf and violas above).

Nicolette had loads of visitors wanting to know more about how we started up our veg growing scheme, travelling from South London and as far as Colchester and Manchester to hear our story!

Neighbours and friends baked up the most gorgeous cakes I’ve ever seen (and tasted!),

and we also encouraged entries for the best planting around the base of our street trees, which were judged on the day by Veronica Peerless, deputy editor of Which? Gardening magazine.

Small events punctuated the afternoon and Tim Bushe was a real crowd pleaser with his virtuoso topiary demonstration.

Nicola Baird ably helped others to make over 100 wildflower seeds bombs that can be lobbed into inaccessible forgotten corners, creating  floriferous joy wherever thrown,

and the afternoon continued with very entertaining veg races involving various transportation methods of cucumbers (hands), cabbages (knees) and potatoes (spoons).

Tim Richardson, creator and director of the Chelsea Fringe, joined us for tea and cake and happily agreed to present Best Tree Pit trophies. Runner up, Nicola, was delighted to recieve her award for a fantastic sculptural framework for sweet peas in her tree pit,

and Eugenie’s winning tree pit was deservedly recognised for providing gorgeous colour and interest in the form of snapdragons, verbascum, cabbages and wildflowers. Always a pleasure to walk by on the way to the shops!

And finally, the warm sunny afternoon was perfectly rounded off by a 10 minute play called ‘Pumpkin Patch’ about stealing veg in a community garden. Heaven forbid!

The Chelsea Fringe continues over the next 2 weekends, up until June 10th with tons of interesting horticultural happenings all over London. I rather fancy the Living medicine cookery workshop in Ladbroke Grove tomorrow afternoon (booking essential) and popping by for more tea and cake at a cheeky land grab in Greenwich on June 10th. Tim Richardson highly recommends, amongst others,  the minty Garden of Disorientation in Smithfields, open daily until June 9th (but closed 3rd and 4th June) and the Floating Forest installation, again in Ladbroke Grove. There are up to 90 events listed, so take your pic to get your horticultural fix over the next 10 days. You won’t be disappointed!

p.s. We also had a mention in the Guardian gardening section too!

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Photo: Sarah Cuttle

Gorgeous weather, delicious cake and a fine array of seeds and plants to give away made ‘Cake Sunday’ a really enjoyable get-together for neighbours participating in our community veg growing scheme. Over 100 households have now joined up to grow flowers and veg in their front gardens (and tree pits on the streets) and it was great to see lots of familiar faces as well as some new ones too.

Photo: Sarah Cuttle

This year we gave away purple French Beans, Swiss Chard, especially good for the less sunny garden, and wildflower seeds for tree pits all around our neighbourhood.

We also had masses of Hollyhock seeds, collected from Lindsey’s front garden to share, as these do surprisingly well in the inhospitable area around tree bases too.

Photo: Sarah Cuttle

Now in our fourth growing season, our green growbags and large planters are proliferating in front gardens, as neighbours are eager to grow a large selection of veg, including potatoes (as above), courgettes, tomatoes, Jerusalem artichokes and some very decorative rhubarb plants.

Photo: Sarah Cuttle

Front gardens are a great place to meet up with nieghbours on ‘Cake Sundays’, chat about all things horticultural and indeed anything else!

As part of the Chelsea Fringe this year, we’re inviting visitors to join us on Sunday May 27th 2013 for another bumper Cake Sunday, with all the trimmings. Amongst many metres of bunting, visitors can come sup tea and cake, and find out more about our community veg growing project. Our beans won’t be at the top of the poles by then, but we’ll  be holding edible window box workshops,

a topiary demonstration by Tim Bushe and hopefully a few heats of the Chelsea Fringe Edible Olympics. Cucumber javelin anyone?

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