Tuesday, 30 July 2013

These boots aren't made for walkin'

So, what to do with a row of ugly electrical boxes stuck on your front wall? Garden Friends NW2 spotted this transformation recently in our neighbourhood and thought it was brilliant!

But when the house occupants were asked about it (it's a large conversion made into student rooms and small studios mostly), they said they had no idea where the lovely planted boots and shoes came from - they just mysteriously appeared one morning. Apparently a gift to them and the community from some generous guerrilla gardeners to put a smile on weary faces and say 'welcome' to our neighbourhood. 

It looks like a great idea to recycle old boots and shoes into planters to brighten up drab areas. Hopefully we'll be seeing more creative ideas like this in more front gardens around Fordwych Road.

Keep calm and carry on gardening (and check your closet for old shoes and boots and have some fun)!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

All it takes is one black swan...

This pretty London street is lined with tree pits bursting with hollyhocks, irises, Jerusalem artichokes and a mixture of annuals. It’s hard to believe but this impressive avenue is the work of a blind gardener Sean Canavan. He has spilled out of his front garden, tree pit by tree pit along the road, starting as a guerrilla gardener but earning respect and support from Camden Council on the way, who he tells me have even removed paving slabs to make his tree pits more practical to plant.

This pretty London Street (Ryland Road in Kentish Town) is lined with tree pits bursting with hollyhocks, irises, Jerusalem artichokes and a mixture of annuals. It's hard to believe but this impressive avenue is the work of a blind gardener Sean Canavan. He has spilled out of his front garden, tree pit by tree pit along the road, starting as a guerrilla gardener but earning respect and support from Camden Council on the way, who he says have even removed paving slabs to make his tree pits more practical to plant. Sean was the winner of an honourable mention in the EPICS (Exceptional People in Camden Awards) in 2006 for his efforts and has carried on with his remarkable tree pit gardening ever since and in the process has created a sense of community pride that has seen vandalism and litter decrease.
There's a saying in the philosophy of logic that you can never prove that all swans are white by continuing to point out white swans. But you can easily disprove it by providing a single example of a black swan. So thank you, Sean Canavan, for teaching all of us, garden friends, neighbours, and Camden Council alike, that your one beautiful black swan on Ryland Road proves that tree pit gardening is alive and well in Camden. And surprise, surprise, more are being spotted because of it.
   Ryland Road 24 March 2012

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Cleaning graffiti safely off trees - a simple 'how to' guide!

Hi Garden Friends,

Diversity - all for it. Destructive antisocial behaviour - all against it. Recently two trees on Fordwych Road have been tagged with spray paint. Not only is this antisocial and unsightly, lowering property prices and contributing to negative impressions of our neighbourhood, it's also damaging to our lovely trees and needs to be removed as quickly as possible. This is especially so in warm weather, so it doesn't seep into the bark and poison the trees.  

Garden Friends NW2 have safely and ecologically removed these two tags now, and we'd like to share with everyone how to do it, again with no harm done to the trees. It's simple, easy and only takes a few minutes.

Step 1: Notice what's going on in our neighbourhood. When you spot spray paint graffiti on a tree, don't just walk past it vacantly or with a mutter. Empower yourself to take responsibility to repair this breach in our social fabric.

Step 2: Have the right tools ready at home to do the job correctly. This consists of:

  • A container of clear water and a cloth
  • Latex gloves
  • Olive oil
  • Citrus oil based de-greaser spray (Halfords has it in their bike department on Kilburn High Road)
  • Gentle scrub brushes

Step 3: Apply some olive oil and citrus oil de-greaser to the graffiti area and let stand 5-10 minutes.

Step 4: Gently brush the area, using some water to agitate the cleaners a bit. The spray paint will start coming off.

Step 5: After a few scrubbings, rinse the area with the clear water.

Step 6: Result!

Step 7: Pick up all your kit and head home, head held high!

Step 8: Reward yourself for a job well done!

If you spot any spray paint graffiti on our neighbourhood trees, and you'd rather Garden Friends NW2 take care of it, just report it here or send us an email at gardenfriendnw2@gmail.com and we'll be happy for one of our volunteers to swiftly  respond.

Spray paint graffiti on our trees? - we think not. Diversity - all for it. Destructive antisocial behaviour - all against it.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Give us your old recycle boxes!


Hi to all neighbours in Fordwych Road/St Cuthbert's area!

Garden Friends NW2 will soon be knocking on your door and asking you to donate your old recycling boxes now that the Council has recently delivered their new recycling wheelie bins. These old recycling boxes make excellent planters for fruit, veg and flowers and can find a new life as an attractive alternative to a stack of old, unused plastic recycle boxes in front gardens. See below for the first couple that have been planted up!

The idea came to us compliments of Naomi Schillinger who recently spoke to Garden Friends NW2 and shared this idea as one being used by our green up and clean up neighbours in Islington where it is helping transform dull and grey streets into vibrant and green neighbourhoods.

It's simple really - when we stop by or leave a leaflet, just let Garden Friends NW2 know that you are willing to donate your old recycle boxes. We'll collect them and use them to grow seeds and seedlings to brighten up our area. And if you wish to brighten up your own front garden, we'll be happy to return your box, complete with compost and some veg or fruit or flowers to get you started in our community gardening initiative.

We'll be in contact soon, so have those boxes ready for collection. And of course if you have the time and interest to be actively involved in helping us collect, sort or plant the recycle boxes, give us a reply here or email us at gardenfriendsnw2@gmail.com. The plants are growing and so is community spirit along Fordwych Road! So keep calm and carry on gardening.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Garden Friends NW2 to Host Community Gardening Royaly

Hi Garden Friends,

Well, in our book, she's community gardening royalty! Mark your diaries as Naomi Schillinger, gardener, photographer, blogger and now author extraordinaire will be giving a talk on 'Community Gardening - Getting it Growing' on Thursday evening, 11th July from 7 - 7:30 pm. It's scheduled to be held at St Cuthbert's church on Fordwych Road just at the intersection with St Cuthbert's Road.

Naomi has just published 'Veg Street' based on her experience of starting up a London community gardening project designed to not only produce 'produce' but to also knit communities together in the process. (I think you know where we're going with this :)

Everyone is welcome so do come along if you are already involved in our Adopt a Tree initiative on Fordwych Road or otherwise interested in what Garden Friends NW2 is hoping to do for the community via gardening. Following Naomi's talk, we'll have a short get-together over refreshments to discuss where we're at currently and what the next steps might be. Your input and support will be greatly appreciated!

Hope to see you there!

Naomi with Terenzo tomatoes

The above photos come from Naomi's blogsite: http://outofmyshed.co.uk

So, last evening we had a truly wonderful talk and slide show by Naomi Schillinger. author of 'Veg Street' and main instigator of the highly successful community gardening project in Islington. Thanks so much Naomi, for sharing your time, lots of useful and practical information for our start-up activities, and also for the positive and upbeat inspiration and encouragement. It's so helpful to hear that small local projects can indeed be sustainable once the community gets involved. And that local Councils can indeed be supportive and resourceful partners in guerrilla gardening green up and clean up campaigns once they see the real benefits economically and socially to residents and neighbourhoods and local authorities alike. Everyone who attended came away renewed and refreshed and armed with lots of new ideas for our next steps here at Garden Friends NW2! So, 'watch this space'!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Glastonbury Without the Mud - Free Concert on Saturday July 6th a Resounding Success

Just when you thought ‘Things can’t get any better’ with our recent summer weather, along comes another wonderful and FREE community concert at St Cuthbert’s Church. So mark your diary for this Saturday, 6th July at 6:30 pm.

We’ll be entertained by The Fortunes (4 Tunes, close to Fortune Green? All very clever) consisting of Nicky Rogal (soprano), Ruth Foxman (mezzo-soprano), Alan Fairburn (clarinet) and Clare Sunderland (piano). Amongst this talented foursome, their experiences range from professional West End singing in ‘Cats’, Old-time Music Hall, and numerous choirs; playing in several London bands and orchestras; teaching music to aspiring college students, and playing chamber music together.

For over 10 years, The Fortunes have been doing gigs all over London, plying their many talents in the aid of numerous charity events. This concert is in aid of the newly formed Garden Friends NW2 who aim to serve our community with their ‘Green-up & Clean-up’ Fordwych Road initiative. You may have already seen the first lovely treepit gardens springing up along Fordwych Road due to our ‘Adopt a Tree’ programme for local residents. This initiative will continue along with several others including creating a quiet contemplative garden and gardening spot on St Cuthbert’s Church grounds.

This is all about vibrant community-building in our neighbourhood. So instead of just using Fordwych Road as a nameless, faceless passageway to and from home to wherever else our lives take us, why not join our neighbours for a bit of convivial entertainment and support a good cause at the same time, all within easy walking distance! London doesn’t have to be a place of total disconnected anonymity, and neighbourhoods can serve many more of our needs if we just make the effort. If you’ve lived here a long time or a short time, come along. If you own your property or rent, come along. If you’re young or old, come along. If you’re British or not British, come along. If you’re a gardener or not, come along. Things are changing on Fordwych Road, and it starts with us.


Lost is my Quiet                (a lament)                                 Henry Purcell (1656-95)

Two duets from The Mikado                                            Arthur Sullivan
“Braid the raven hair” and “Speculation”             (words by W.S.Gilbert)

Lullaby: “Sweet and Low” (Tennyson)                                       J. Barnby

Sea Pictures Op. 37, No 4                                                     Edward Elgar
Where Corals Lie (words by E.Y. Harburg)

Suite from The Victorian Vegetable Garden                            Paul Reade
Prelude - Spring - Mists - Exotica - Summer 


Danny Boy                                                                          traditional Irish

How are things in Glocca Morra? (E.Y. Harburg)                 Burton Lane

Die Schwestern (The Sisters) Op. 61, No 1                    Johannes Brahms

Someone to watch over me                                George and Ira Gershwin

So, the concert was held last night as advertised. There was a great turnout of supporters 'in the neighbourhood' of 50 people who enjoyed a wonderful evening of entertainment by The Fortunes as well as a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other over refreshments afterwards. The monetary donations exceeded our expectations as well, and so Thank You for your contributions to our community gardening project. It will be put to good use, you can be assured. Thanks to all who helped organise and advertise this event behind the scenes and special thanks to each one of The Fortunes for their splendid performances to brighten up our little corner of the world. Why not make this an Annual Event!

Here is a link to photos taken at the concert by fellow Garden Friend and photographer Adrian Pope as well. Thanks Adrian.