It still delights me and makes me smile … the ‘community’ in ‘community garden’ really does exist. We’re finally getting into the swing of our Tuesday afternoon gardening sessions after the long drawn-out winter. The weather has been warm, the seeds are germinating, the plants are growing back. Among the shoots we weren’t initially able to identify, but now growing strongly, is the beautiful plant I have named ‘The Todmorden Lovage’. Mary from Incredible Edible Todmorden gave it to the garden last year when we visited their inspirational town. It’s a connection to a fantastic project and an amazing group of people.
And so far this year, locally, we’ve had even more people dropping in, passing by, getting involved while we’re in the garden. On Tuesday, we were five pottering around watering, potting on seedlings and checking planting in the shady garden. We were joined by Eve, by various neighbours who dropped by to see the fruit trees, by Marlene who – as always – brought things for us to plant and by a little girl, keen to water and dig, who had been waiting on the platform with her Dad.
Our guiding principle – that we build the gardens with whatever resources and people come our way – seems to work, and it’s lovely now to look at the planting in the shady garden and think: ‘that came from Sally’, ‘that came from my mum in Wales’, ‘Diane brought that over from Preston Park’, ‘that came from the neighbour in Shaftesbury Road’. A week or so ago, a neighbour left a hemerocallis for us, and this week we were planting a tough old clematis – I think it’s Clematis ‘Victoria’ with large purple flowers – which has been in a pot on my patio for years. And next to our Big Dig banner, Marlene’s clever hanging flowerpot and single daffodil serve to announce our community garden.
More connections on Saturday, when I was showing the garden to Juliette from Holland, another neighbour dropped by. He had developed his raised beds at the same time as we had, and he was keen to see how ours were doing.
In the conversation, we discussed local apple varieties and he mentioned that he had grown some seedlings from the old apple trees in the orchard at the back of the houses in Shaftesbury Road before this odd patch of land was sold on.
As he wasn’t sure he would be staying in the area, he asked if we would like the seedlings. We picked them up later Saturday morning and visited his amazing raised beds (see photo), full of a rich array of edible leaves and clever arrangements for watering with roof water.
The seedlings – two apples, two pears – are now sitting next to their older established cousins in ‘our’ mini-orchard. It would be wonderful to be growing our very very local Shaftesbury Road varieties, but I think we might need the horticultural expertise of Brighton Permaculture Trust to grow them on.
From little things great things grow.