Winter platform planting

Planters Brighton nov 2014 foxglove

Foxglove in Brighton planter

We’ve just replanted the platform planters at London Road station for the winter with shade-tolerant plants: cyclamen, ivy and hebe. In the summer, the planters were slow to get going. Was it the very thick claggy compost we used, supposed to be ‘black gold’? Was it the fact that the planters are in shade for much of the day? Or was it the textile bags around the roots of the bedding plants which were supposed to make planting easier? We’re not sure – probably all three. We very nearly gave up on the foxgloves which were supposed to the be tall, eye-catching specimens in the centre of the planters. But now, at a most unexpected time of the year, they have decided to rally.


Lush foxgloves in Nick's planter - to flower in the spring?

Lush foxgloves in Nick’s planter – to flower in the spring?

We have a flowering foxglove in the planter at the Brighton end of the platform. ‘Nick’s planter’, by the ticket office, is dominated by three lush, though non-flowering, foxgloves. We’ve transplanted another hearty foxglove into the planter at the Lewes end. The Lewes and Brighton planters now also have two purple hebes, and we’ve filled in with cyclamen and variegated ivy. We’ve replanted the rich purple leaved heuchera in the Brighton planter. The pastel colours may need to be enlivened by a few more vivid cyclamen.

Lewes end planter

Lewes end planter

As is typical of planters filled with compost, the level of the soil had sunk quite significantly since the summer. We’ve topped up with a mixture of multipurpose compost, our remaining Veolia soil enhancer from municipal recycling and our own very worm-rich chunky compost. We’ve added a scattering of chicken manure pellets for slow release in the spring: these provide a good source of nitrogen (for leaves, rather than flowers) but we may need to provide a bit more potassium and phosphorous to support the flowers. We also added bone meal to promote rooting.

It’s not been great weather for mixing compost and planting up. After a perfect Tuesday morning spent buying plants, Tuesday afternoon’s planting session had to be aborted because of heavy rain. Overnight, the temperature plummeted and there was a short-lived air frost. Things did soon warm up and despite threatening clouds and high winds, the rain held off on Thursday afternoon. Nevertheless, it was cold and wet work for Daphne, Mark, Madeleine and me. The new plants should be OK, though, as they are sheltered by the high wall. The bright cyclamen provide wonderful points of colour in an otherwise predominantly grey environment.

Bright pink cyclamen in Lewes planter

Bright pink cyclamen in Lewes planter

We had two very positive happenings in the process of planting. First, two young men coming off the train were proposing to walk off with my ever-so-useful gardening trolley, standing idle at the compost area gates. However, shamed by my shouting, they then insisted on penitence, and ended up shifting sacks of compost and unloading the trolley for me.

Second, our local B&Q store was scaling down its garden section. As I arrived at the check-out with £1-reduced packs of pansies and some ivy, the garden section manager said: ‘Do you want anymore plants?’. What a mad question!  I always want more plants! ‘Just go and get what you want: we’ll only charge you half price for everything!’ Wow – a garden centre trolley-grab! Heaven! Probably just as well that the plants had to be taken back to London Road Station on foot. Thanks to B&Q, we now have pansies galore for the tree pits and mini lime-green cypress trees, skimmias and ivy for the pub planters. The magic of community gardening!




Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Clearing up The Greenway

Greenway line chopping Greenway work underway 4 gdIt wasn’t the most inspiring day to be out clearing brambles and buddleia. The early morning forecast indicated heavy rain and even hail. Several of us wondered whether the planned ‘clear-up’ of The Greenway would go ahead.

But despite the rain, there must have been about fifteen of us at the Clarendon Centre just after midday ready to hack away at the overgrowth on The Greenway. We spanned a wide range of interested community groups, associations and agencies: LRSP and DRARA, Prestonville Community Association, St Luke’s Church, Brighton & Hove Food Partnership, Friends Centre, Church of Christ the King, Friends First and the city council. Our ward Councillors, Ian and Pete, were there too.

With loppers and secateurs, we managed to clear much of the vegetation along the wall and cut back the patch of stinging nettles taking over the grass by the path. The concrete wall revealed underneath the vegetation is not exactly beautiful but has potential for a make-over: a train-themed mural perhaps?

The Greenway is a walkway running from below the north end of Brighton Station along the line of the old lower goods yard track towards New England Road. It crosses the lower New England Road bridge, with steps leading down to the road just above the junction with New England Street. The characteristic columns which line it, seen in the photos here, were built to support the expansion of the Locomotive Works in the 1890s, when 12 locomotives a year were being built in Brighton and the Works had a staff of over 2000.

The Greenway is thus a monument to Brighton’s railway heritage, as well as a pedestrian trail into the centre of town for residents north of Preston Circus. It has the potential to be Brighton’s ‘Highline’. Today should be the first of a series of clear-ups to get The Greenway looking cared for, so that more people use it and enjoy it. There’s a consultation meeting on its future: come along to Clarendon Centre, Tuesday 11th November 7.30

Greenway wall cleared Greenway upper part Greenway portrait wall 2 gd Greenway Ian and Luisa w branches 2 gd









Posted in The Greenway | 1 Comment

Harvest supper 2014


Our 2014 harvest basket

Last night, we celebrated our fourthharvest supper. It was a very, very wet night. It had been raining all day. The station garden was drenched and sodden like a sponge when I went over to collect lettuce and the last of the chard.

This year, we actually started harvesting in a surprisingly hot July. We then had very dry soil, a cold August and a very warm (and dry) September. October has been completely unpredictable: sometimes warm, sometimes wet, sometimes stormy, sometimes cold, sometimes sunny. We didn’t have much to harvest by mid-October; it had all been and gone

2014 Harvest 1.7 (1)

Our harvest at the beginning of July 2014 – mustard leaves, courgette, onions, strawberries

It’s not been a great year for fruit. We had virtually nothing on our apples and pears, and our raspberries didn’t like the dry spells. We did, however, get our first harvest of plums from ‘Marjorie’s seedling’ planted in a dustbin – we ate them back in August: they were delicious. Our chard suffered from a leaf miner, and our cavalo nero were invested with caterpillars. We cleared many of the plants back in mid-September. Luckily, the chard and cavalo in my garden had made a come-back by the end of September.

2014 Harvest end Sept

Our harvest mid September – tomatoes, basil, parsley, courgette, runner beans

Our courgettes were fairly good this year, but again didn’t appreciate the dry soil. We took them out at the beginning of September. Runner beans were good until a few weeks ago. We harvested our onions back in July and they have been hanging to dry ever since. What has come to harvest these last couple of weeks has been the tomatoes and our pretty lettuce bed from a sowing in late August. Also from a second sowing, we had beetroot. This year, basil also did well in the greenhouse.

So our menu for last night:

  • Simon and Diane’s borscht (our beetroot).
  • Chris’ wholemeal cheddar and (our) basil bread
  • Insalata tricolore (our lettuce, tomatoes, basil but not our mozzarella)
  • Madeleine’s vegetarian pasties, using our onions
  • Elspeth’s leaf gratin (our chard, onions, cavalo nero in layers with potato, goats cheese and parmesan)
  • Sue’s lemon and raspberry tart (would have used our raspberries)
  • Verbena water ice (our verbena leaves)
  • Selection of cheeses with homemade bread

It was a great evening with wonderful food and company – so good that I completely forgot to take photos. Three and a half years on, the garden is still a lovely focus for friendship and neighbourliness.

2014 Harvest Good produce

This year’s successes – tomatoes, basil and different kinds of lettuce!

Lettuce bed 2014

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Celebrating the mosaic – the tea party

20140822_120130 20140822_114639Watch the video

It’s over a month ago now, but what a fantastic event it was. To celebrate the completion of the underpass mosaic, the ‘A-team’ National Citizen Service volunteers and members of LRSP organised a tea party at London Road Station.

One group of 16 year-olds made cakes – as always with a fruit and vegetable theme -, another group completed the wooden surround for the tree pits, having learned from Chris how to use an electric drill, while another group put finishing touches to the mosaic.

IMG_0768By 3pm we had a perfect café set up in the station building and the mosaic looked impressive. The cakes – raspberry, blackberry and chocolate brownies, lavender shortbread biscuits, orange, carrot and courgette cake, beetroot and chocolate cake and spiced apple cake – all turned out well, despite the apple cake partially exploding in the oven and the beetroot and chocolate cake refusing to emerge from its tin.

Over 30 people turned up for the party: neighbours, friends and parents. Our ward councillor, Mike Jones, was there and talked afterwards about the ‘inspirational and enjoyable event’. He was, he said, ‘delighted’ by the mosaic which was so unexpected. So many people have commented similarly, and we’re told that some station users now deliberately use the underpass.

We really enjoyed hosting the A-team. Some learned to use an electric drill, others used a food processor for the first time, still others learned old fashioned vocabulary from us such as ‘hoe’ and ‘urn’. But most importantly, everybody saw how a creative vision – ambitious but uncertain at the start – could actually be achieved. On the Tuesday, they didn’t think they could bring it off: by the Friday, the mosaic – all 7.5 x 2 metres – was complete. We love it – thank you!

Posted in Events, Video | Leave a comment

Press reports on the mosaic

Albion in the Community project 27814 001 (2)Thrilled to see that the Evening Argus has reported on the lovely mosaic project completed by a young volunteer group as part of National Citizen Service run by Albion in the Community.Albion in the Community project 27814 001 (2)

Other partners have also reported on this great project.

Albion in the Community’ s article

Sussex Community Rail Partnership



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Volunteering at LRSP: Day 3

Wednesday was a day filled with hard work and laughter. The mosaic is now incredibly close to completion, and we’re all starting to feel the build up to the event on Friday. The work on the new boarders for the flower beds has begun, and posters for Friday have been produced and laminated.

I’ll be updating again later, with some photos, but for now, enjoy the weather while it lasts and I’ll get back to work!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Volunteering at LRSP: Day 2

It’s safe to say that even though this is only our second day working at the station, it already feels like a second home (and the tea and coffee kindly provided by Elspeth certainly doesn’t break that illusion!)

Today called for an early start, so we met at the station at 9, and began work almost immediately; yes, today was MOSAIC DAY! As ‘communications officer’ I quickly laminated some posters that I made yesterday, and put them up around the station to inform station-goers of the work that we were doing, and by the time that I arrived in the subway, the mosaic was already well under way.

Someone even decided to comment ON one of our posters

Someone even decided to comment ON one of our posters

With the subway closed, and music softly playing, the morning whirred past in a blur or adhesive, tile cutters and notched trowels, and by the time we staggered our lunch breaks, we had produced better work than, honestly, I thought was possible in the time we had.

WP_20140819_005[1]WP_20140819_013[1] WP_20140819_021[1] 

(To be clear, in the first picture I asked Izzy to pull a silly face)

After lunch, we carried on with the mosaic, altering the design slightly due to the change in the amount of space that we had to cover. However, I think that the block colours at each end of the mural, twisting and fading into the waves of rainbow stripes that we had originally designed give a more pleasing aesthetic, and allow the mosaic seagulls that we’d worked all morning on to really shine.


It’s been a fantastic day, and I can’t wait to continue (and finish!) the mosaic tomorrow!

If you want to keep updated about the work that we’re doing with LRSP and Albion in the Community, keep watching this blog, and you can follow us on twiiter @a_team_7. Thanks for reading- Orla


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment