Category Archives: Gardening

Damage to community planting

Last spring residents brightened up Palace Road Estate by planting flowers, with support from Urban Growth.

Community planting event – 31 March 2019

The geraniums which we planted in the long bed at the entrance to Coburg Crescent, near Despard House, had been doing particularly well. There has been a fine display of green foliage and pink flowers this spring and summer.

Geranium sanguineum ‘Vision Pink’ – May 2020

In early August the geraniums in this bed lost their leaves and flowers and their stems were damaged.

Damaged geranium – 5 August 2020

The geraniums along the length of the bed were damaged in this way. The photos below from early July and early August are “before” and “after” images. In the “before” photo, geranium foliage can be seen along the length of the front of the bed; this was still present at the beginning of August. In the “after” photo, the geranium foliage along the front of the bed has disappeared.

The damage occurred on Monday 3 or Tuesday 4 August. A member of the Estate’s gardening group spotted the damage on the Tuesday afternoon. Pinnacle – the council’s grounds maintenance contractors – had been on the estate on the Monday to mow and strim.

Pieces of geranium foliage had been left lying in the bed. These demonstrate that the plants had still been in leaf when they were damaged.

Geranium foliage left lying in the bed – 4 August 2020

The gardening group co-ordinator has sent a complaint to Lambeth Council asking for an apology for the damage and replacement of the damaged plants. She has also asked for assurance that the council and their contractors will not damage other planting performed by residents. An update will be provided on this blog once a full response has been received.

Gardening group update: enhancing our estate

One of the gardening group’s aims is to brighten up the estate and the local area. Recently we brought a disused planter on Palace Road, outside Baly House, back into use.

In June we cleared the planter of weeds and self-seeded trees. We also broke up the compacted soil. Here are members of the group hard at work.

Then in July we put in the wonderful plants shown in the photos below. These plants were donations from Chelsea Physic Garden. This amazing garden, tucked away beside the Thames, is the oldest botanic garden in London. It contains a collection of around 5,000 different edible, useful and medicinal plants that have changed the world. It’s well worth a visit!

Many thanks to Nell Jones, the Head Gardener at Chelsea Physic Garden, for passing these spare plants on to our community gardening group. Thanks too to Iain Houten, Marketing Officer, for helping to arrange for us to collect them.

Collecting the plants from Chelsea Physic Garden

Do you have further ideas for how the gardening group could brighten up the estate? Would you like to get involved? Do contact us at gardening@prera.org.uk

How to install a vegetable planter in 7 easy steps

In a previous post, we wrote about the gardening group’s ‘productive planters’. In this post, we look in a bit more detail at how the planters were installed.

Step 1: Choosing a good spot

We chose the area between the service road and Chalner, Despard and Ponton Houses. This spot gets good sunlight for most of the day. Lots of residents pass by and can enjoy seeing the plants grow and help to pick the produce. Also, several members of the gardening group live close by and can help with watering. We informed Lambeth Council, as the legal landowners, of our plans.

Step 2: Moving the planters into place

The planters were made by Farrans at the Resource Centre construction site with wood salvaged from the old shop. We carried them through the estate to their new home.

Photo credit: Deborah Ajia

Step 3: Lining the planters

Next, we lined the planters. The material was kindly donated by Iain Houten from Mawbey Farm on Mawbey Brough Estate in north Lambeth. We used a staple gun to secure the liner to the planter.

Photo credit: Deborah Ajia

Step 4: Knocking the planters into the ground

We knocked the planters into the ground using a very big hammer to ensure that they would be stable and wouldn’t move.

Learning point: The lining material started to come off whilst we were knocking the planters into the ground. When we installed two further planters the following weekend, we lined the planters after knocking them into the ground. That worked much better.

Learning point: The ground is very hard in this area of the estate and it was very difficult to knock the first two planters into the ground. We asked Farrans to make the next two planters with much shorter legs. That made this step much easier.

Photo credit: Deborah Ajia

Step 5: Filling the planters with soil and compost

We filled the planters with soil which Farrans had given us from the Resource Centre construction site. We added compost on the top. This had been kindly donated by Pinnacle.

Photo credit: Deborah Ajia

Step 6: Planting seedlings

Children from the estate, helped by their parents, planted seedlings in the new planters.

This child and his sister brought along these wonderful brightly coloured tools
Photo credit: Deborah Ajia

Step 7: Watering the new seedlings

The children watered the seedlings after planting them. A team of residents from the estate is continuing to water the plants every day.

Photo credit: Deborah Ajia

Would you like to get involved with the Palace Road Estate gardening group? If so, do get in touch by email at gardening@prera.org.uk

Gardening group update: productive planters

At the end of June and in early July, the Palace Road Estate gardening group installed four planters in the grassy area between Chalner, Despard and Ponton Houses. We’re growing herbs and vegetables for local residents to harvest and enjoy.

The new planters in late July – the herbs and vegetables are thriving

The planters were made by Farrans who are building the Resource Centre on Coburg Crescent.

Cath from the gardening group collecting a new planter from Farrans
Photo credit: Deborah Ajia

We took soil from the construction site to fill the planters. Reusing materials in this way is good for the environment.

Rob from the gardening group transporting soil from the construction site to the planting area

Local children helped to plant herbs and vegetable seedlings in the new planters. The plants are being watered regularly by a team of local residents and they’re looking really healthy. Tomatoes, beans and squashes are starting to form and will hopefully be ready to pick soon.

Don’t these tomatoes look amazing!

Thank you to the following people:

  • Farrans for building the planters and providing the soil
  • Pinnacle for providing compost
  • Chelsea Physic Garden for donating white beetroot, purple sprouting broccoli and chillis
  • Iain Houten from Mawbey Brough Estate for donating a range of herb and vegetable seedlings
  • Incredible Edible Lambeth and the Capital Growth Community Harvest initiative for their ongoing support of the Palace Road Estate gardening group.

Would you like to get involved in gardening on Palace Road Estate? Or do you have suggestions which you’d like to share for improving our green spaces? Do contact us at gardening@prera.org.uk

Gardening and food growing

Would you like to get involved in gardening and food growing on Palace Road Estate? Some residents have come together (online) to start a gardening group. We’d love more people to join us and we’d love to hear your ideas. Suggestions so far have included:

  • Planting more flowers around the estate, like we did with Urban Growth last year.
  • Growing vegetables, perhaps in raised beds or in an allotment area.
  • Enhancing the existing planters around the estate, including the ones on top of the Despard, Ponton, Baly and Ducavel House garages.
  • Having areas of the estate as wildflower / low mow areas, so that residents can enjoy the colourful wildflowers (and so insects can enjoy them too).

Would you like to get involved? Do you have ideas that you would like to share? Do get in touch with us at gardening@prera.org.uk

A resident weeding outside Baly House. What else would you like in these planters? Some edible herbs, perhaps?

We have plenty of support available to us. For example, Incredible Edible Lambeth – who support food growing schemes across the borough – are keen to help us get started. There are also free things, such as soil and materials to make raised beds, and funding that we can apply for.

A note regarding the coronavirus pandemic: Although we may be limited in what we can do face-to-face at the moment, there is plenty that we can still do as individuals and as household groups. We can also use social media and online meetings to stay in touch with each other and share ideas. Incredible Edible Lambeth have also collated useful guidance to help community gardening groups to operate safely during this time.

Some local sources of inspiration:

Neighbours on Limetree Close have created these wonderful planters
The Doodlebug Garden on Wavertree Road
Hillside Gardens Estate

New apple trees and orchard

Residents and Open Orchard had an enjoyable day planting apple trees on Palace Road Estate last month. Many thanks to everyone who came along, including a number of keen young helpers. Thanks too to Thomas and Robert from Open Orchard who shared their expertise and tools.

We planted a mini-orchard in the grass area between Ponton House and Coburg Crescent. We also planted trees on Bushell Close, on Palace Road outside Ponton House, and on Coburg Crescent outside Despard House.

Creating the new orchard
Bushell Close

The apple trees are a range of different varieties, with some great names: Nuvar Freckles, Nuvar Golden Hills, Sunset, Kidd’s Orange Red, Laxton’s Superb, Self-Fertile Cox, Sweet Society and Bountiful.

The different varieties will produce apples with different delicious flavours, which will be ready to pick at different times. We will need to be patient though as it will be a couple of years before there is fruit which we can pick to eat.

PRERA purchased the trees from Keepers Nursery and you can read more about the different varieties on their website.

A new tree going in – good teamwork

Many thanks to the following people and organisations who helped to make the planting day a success:

  • Open Orchard
  • Gerry, the Friends Group Coordinator for Palace Road Nature Garden, for lending us a wheelbarrow and trolley and donating woodchip
  • Lambeth Landscapes / Lambeth Council for donating wooden stakes
  • Keepers Nursery for their advice about selecting trees and about how to store them before planting.

During the summer, the apple trees will need plenty of water. If you would like to help with watering, do get in touch if you haven’t already done so (email contact@prera.org.uk). Watering cans can be provided.

Fruit tree planting: Saturday 22nd February, 11am to 3pm

PRERA and Open Orchard are working together to plant more fruit trees on Palace Road Estate. Do come and join in with the planting. See the poster below for further details.

Poster

In time, the trees will provide residents with a source of healthy, local, fresh produce. We’ll be planting a range of varieties of apple, many of which you’re unlikely to find in local supermarkets.

If you’re not able to make it to this planting event but you’d like to help look after the new trees, do get in touch (email contact@prera.org.uk). The trees are going to need plenty of water through the spring and summer. In due course they will also need some pruning. Training can be arranged.

Would you be interested in getting involved in other food growing and gardening projects on the estate? If so, do get in touch (email contact@prera.org.uk). As a community organisation, PRERA can apply for funding and other resources for such projects.

Palace Road Estate in bloom

Parts of the estate burst into colour yesterday, thanks to Pinnacle who came to plant four areas with flowers.

The planting was an apology from Pinnacle who had mowed areas where residents had planted snowdrops. These flowers are perennials, so residents should be able to enjoy colourful displays in winter/spring for many years to come.

The bank between Coburg Crescent and the South Circular is also looking beautiful with its regular display of crocuses.

Fruit trees: past, present and future

Many thanks to the Open Orchard Project who visited the estate last week to help care for our young fruit trees. They will be back again on Saturday 22nd February to help plant more fruit trees on the estate. Do join us for this community planting event.

A little bit of history

Where Palace Road Estate is now, there used to be large detached houses with their own gardens. Some of the trees on the estate, including pear, plum and cherry trees are from these former gardens. Over the years, the fruit trees have become rather old and tall and the fruit is difficult to reach.

Caring for our young fruit trees

In early 2014, volunteers worked with Open Orchard to plant 10 new fruit trees across the estate. Robert and Thomas from Open Orchard visited the estate last week (and back in November) to help care for these young fruit trees.

Last week, they worked with a couple of residents to:

  • prune the trees to improve their shape and encourage healthy growth
  • remove grass from around the trees to reduce competition for water and nutrients
  • add leaves to suppress weeds and help to enrich the soil
  • re-secure the protective cages
  • move a young cherry tree which was in the way of the children’s slide to a better location nearby.
Work in progress on frosty ground
The finished scene

Planting more fruit trees and getting involved

Open Orchard and PRERA are working together to plant more fruit trees on the estate. Do join us on Saturday 22nd February 2020 to help with the planting. More details about the event will be available shortly on this blog and on posters on the estate noticeboards.

By planting fruit trees on the estate, and looking after them, we’ll have a source of locally grown fresh fruit for many years to come. Trees also bring a range of environmental benefits – we’ll cover these in a future blog post. After the trees have been planted, the main thing we’ll need to do is to keep them well watered. In due course, the trees will also need the type of care outlined above. If you’re interested in helping to look after the fruit trees on the estate, do let us know. Training can be arranged.

Happy workers!

Maintaining our fruit trees

Many thanks to Robert and Thomas from the Open Orchard Project who kindly dropped by the estate this morning to care for some of our young fruit trees. They pruned the trees to improve their shape and to encourage healthy growth, they topped up the soil and they re-secured the protective cages.

Robert and Thomas are keen to collaborate with residents to come up with an ongoing maintenance programme for our young fruit trees. This will help to ensure that the trees are strong and healthy. If you would like to be involved with this, do get in touch with PRERA.