When it comes to dirt, dust, and disturbance, it has been more than a little trying here. There is much building work going on next door which has entailed dozens of skips and mini-diggers, bashing and banging, and dirt, lots of dirt. The last couple of days clouds of dust have enveloped the bathroom, rising up through the floorboards and settling in a fine layer over everything horizontal. Even the cats are starting to cough. There is only one solution in such cirumstances really: get out.
We kicked off the day after the cake judging episode with a wonderful day cycling around to six local gardens during Open Gardens Weekend, kicking off with a mature hospice garden of great accomplishment (above). From there we went to Zander community club garden where gardening sits alongside bingo and stained glass. We then climbed to the roof garden of a local school where we could admire the giant cut-out rabbits they'd found in a skip and the Year 7 pupils tried to teach us how make origami birds.
|Oaklands School Roof Garden|
We moved on to a community allotment on the Cranbrook Estate, set up by two formidable women who wanted to do something with a neglected bit of lawn in the middle of the estate and. In this tiny space at the centre of the blocks of flats, volunteers of any age can pop in when they have some spare time. Anybody who helps out can take something home, and excess produce is sent for sale to a local shop. We didn't leave empty handed ourselves either. We were persuaded to buy some cabbage plant from two young boys who, when quizzed, told us that their sales skills came from watching The Apprentice. Hmm.
|Cranbrook Community Garden|
We then visited an amazing organic garden at the bottom of this tower block with wind from turbulence which must be more than trying...
|Winterton House, E1|
...where two retired men have driven out the rats and orchestrated the production of Winterton House Organic Garden, a beautiful formal garden, behind which there are mini-allotments, miniature chickens, pretty hens and rabbits.
|Winterton House Organic Garden|
|Winterton House Hens|
Our tour ended at the mature Cable Street Community Gardens, where a vibrant community of gardeners maintain a lovely space with an old cobbled road running through it and bounded by railway arches, a school, a convent. It is a hectic green space, with one allotment entirely covered by flowers, some completely orderly, and others pell-mell with trees and bushes and ponds.
|Cable Street Community Gardens|
We were tired and totally exhilarated by the time we got home. We'd eaten cake and curry, drunk lots of tea, bought second hand books, seedlings and plants and, amazingly, met someone we knew at every location. I was deeply impressed by the commitment of people to make a green, productive space in challenging, unusual spaces. They didn't just try, they succeeded. Must bear that in mind.