30 March 2012


The March meeting was very interesting, thought provoking,  and a bit controversial. Howard is a horticultural broadcaster and writer, he also judges and advises several sheltered housing projects on their gardening, it being used as therapy in many cases. He showed us examples of good and bad containers via photos on his computer. The controversy arose when he was advising on hanging baskets and containers, dismissing several commonly used plants as not worth bothering with, for example, trailing lobellia and Surfinia petunias.
He advised not using many favourite plants such as fuchsias, as they need too much water to sustain them, bearing in mind the imminent hose pipe ban. Mixed planted baskets were not too popular with him, either, he prefers them with a single plant in each container. It is true that that way they can be moved around to create the best effect, but personally, I could not give up my mixed plants and colours in the same container or basket! It is all down to personal preference.
Here is Howard with club member Elizabeth Glendenning, both enjoying a nice cup of tea.
Bearing in mind the possible drought approaching, he gave us several tips to help with that, such as trying grey and silver leaved plants, as they tend to be drought tolerant and using water retaining crystals in the compost. He also said that not all containers need to be planted up, some could just be left empty among planted displays, to make a visually pleasing effect. He gave photographic examples of this as well.

13 March 2012


It’s a leap year, and there’s some interesting gardening folklore that goes along with it. Apparently you shouldn’t plant new fruit trees today – if you do they will only bear fruit once every four years. Broad beans planted today would grow upside down, and peas and beans would grow the wrong way in their pods havent a clue what that would look like ha ha
 a lovely saying, which I have seen used mainly by gardeners in the US, about perennial plants – that in their first year they ‘sleep’, in their second they ‘creep’ and in their third year they ‘leap’.ANYBODY KNOW ANY MORE

3 March 2012


Hi I went to Gina's wildlife garden this morning to take these photos. Herself and Peter (not our Peter), a fellow allotment holder, have worked really hard on it. Their original allotments, over the back to where they are sighted now, were taken from them to build new houses. This will be there first year of operation. A lot of thought has gone into it's development, starting with the surface at the entrance. The council wanted to concrete it over, but Gina persuaded them to do a more eco-friendly solution. the surface is now formed of circles of concrete with holes in so that grass can grow through & birds & insects can utilise it, as well as supplying a firm foot hold to the human population. They had the sign made especially for them
the original site had a large population of slow worms, which were disturbed after being moved by the council. The new residents, thinking they were snakes, killed a lot of them. Thankfully, thanks to the new homes that have been provided for them in the garden, they are on the way back. Here are an adult & a baby in their new habitats.


There are 3 ponds, all containing rain water. This is collected from the roofs of the sheds into water butts & transferred either by pipes going directly into them, or by brute force & large dustbins being carried over to them. They were put there for the birds & insects to enjoy. There are also tap water storage tanks, but these are not used for the ponds. Bird feeders & nesting boxes are everywhere, with a lot of birds in the garden.

A great variety of wild-life habitats are provided in the garden to attract bees, butterflies , ladybirds and any other creepy-crawlies that may be in need of a home, all are welcome. The pile of twigs & logs have pollen sponges put onto them, and are a magnet to butterflies. There is a very well worn foxes track too.

The centre of the garden is very bumpy & uneven, due to all the rubble the builders dumped there. As a result, the soil is very poor. Gina put on her thinking cap and decided to create a wild flower garden, so she has planted a lot of wild flower seeds. The bramble has also been left undisturbed, as a lot of birds & insects like that.
I have been invited back in the summer to take the photos again, to see the changes that have occurred, that will be good.
The allotments are situated in Crescent Road, Dagenham (off Frizlands Lane). Ask Gina about them, she is pleased to discuss them with everybody.