February is very much a “between” month, still winter but in sight of spring. February, though, can be treacherous, or unseasonably warm. On 26 February 2019 it was 21º in London, but last February it was minus 23º in Scotland. Meanwhile, Storm Eunice was wreaking havoc in the Garden, blowing down the painted hoarding and tipping over our pots of daffodils. But it is getting lighter, day by day, as we home in on the equinox on 21 March, when we have equal day and night.
Daffodils are just coming out, snowdrops too. Our garden is a little late on these, as we are quite shady with the sun not getting out of the shadow of the new flats till late morning. Irises are coming up, and the trees have all their buds in readiness, but the days are not quite warm or long enough. The first one to come out is always the willow by the greenhouse.
The weather has been dry, with several weeks without rain, but that doesn’t matter as temperatures barely get above 10º, so the soil is retaining its moisture. In midsummer with the temperatures in the 30s, that would be quite another matter, with our barrels emptying quickly. This is why we are asking Thames Water to give us a quote for a tap. Then we’ll decide whether we can afford it or not.
Ashok’s Vision have stored some violets with us temporarily, given to them by the Council. Today some were taken out to be planted in the street planters, which they are looking after. Such a necessary task, as you cannot simply plant and hope for the best.
The centre of Sophie’s memorial has been put in place, a small square raised bed. Around it will be constructed the hexagon, making up the large raised herb bed. Meanwhile Hazel, down the road, is working on her frog mosaic which will back the existing and well-loved snail. The Fothergill exhibition is at the Gate, the efforts of last summer’s Learn Draw Grow sessions, some of which were in the garden. There are paintings, drawings and embroidery of some of the plants that Fothergill had, in the mid 1700s, on his estate, which has now become West Ham Park. He commissioned many paintings of his plants, but most of these are in Russia. Catherine the Great bought them in the 1780s when Fothergill’s estate was sold up after his death. A great pity, as they should be here, where they would be appreciated. [Says the country that looted the Elgin Marbles.]
Forest Gate Festival is being planned once again. The Garden was launched as an idea at the 2013 Festival, and gathered its first hundred supporters that day. Since then, its stall has been a regular presence. The Festival will be held on Osborne Road, as usual, on Saturday 8 July. The committee in 2022 didn’t realise that the “Let’s Get The Party Started” grant carried with it a “hidden” extra payment to Highways for the road closure and parking restrictions. With the grant stopped, the Festival was about to be hammered for £6000, but the Community Neighbourhood stepped in to fund it for 2022. This year, the Festival committee have learned that if the event becomes a Play Street, the road closure fees are waived. So that’s the way it is going. All groups are being asked if they can have a play element as well as their usual efforts.
There are lots of sparrows today, cheeping around our feeders, flying off if you draw near. It is, of course, close to breeding time. Our bird feeders are full. Will we get any blue tits in our nesting boxes? Or frog spawn in the pond?
Max Mason, our new administrator, came for a visit on Friday. She is keen to be hands-on as well as doing admin. We wish her well, and hope to see her regularly in the Garden.