Derek – Sunday, 23rd April 2023

Forest Gate Community Garden

Sunday 23 April 2023


Six months ago, I suggested we have a display of wild flowers. This was agreed at a steering group meeting. But how to get them? My first thought was to buy seeds. But the seeds, I could find were mostly collections of wild flowers suitable for seeding a meadow, say.


Then I had another idea. This was to pot up the wild flowers we already had in the garden. I found and potted up: euphorbia, oxalis, hemlock, poppy, cinquefoil, bristly oxtongue, cranesbill, red dead nettle, wild garlic, shepherd’s purse, purple toadflax, forget-me-not, dandelion and vetch. In addition, we were donated: tansy, valerian, meadowsweet, and foxglove.


I have given them their common names. But common names are variable. I had an argument, not acrimonious, with a woman about what I called wild garlic and she called three-cornered leek. This is Allium triquetrum, also known as snowbell and, in Australia, as onion weed. Botanists know only too well that common names can be confusing. And so have come up with a single Latinate name for each plant, accepted across the world. Each plant in this system, first devised by Linnaeus, has a genus name and a species name. Keeping with our example Allium triquetrum, Allium is the genus, and as there are quite a few alliums, the species name, triquetrum, is needed to tie it down to one plant.


I have pondered for several years why, after about six weeks, there is a huge drop in tadpole numbers. I put it initially down to predators such as dragonfly larvae, waterboatmen and birds. But I don’t believe that is enough. Birds rarely attack our pond, they much prefer our feeders. Currently, we have many thousands of tadpoles in the pond, possibly as high as ten thousand. But they will largely be gone in a month or so, leaving us with say 5% of them.


Predation is a factor but I think starvation is a bigger factor. Many tadpoles group together in large clusters. In such groupings oxygen will be used up and food will run out, leading to many deaths. Lots of tadpoles can be seen feeding at the pond liner, presumably on the algae attached to it, but they must ingest some of the lining. The lining isn’t poisonous, according to articles I found on the net, but it has no food value. So they fill their stomachs with bits of rubber and then starve. My theory, anyway.


I took a photo in the week of our two cherry trees in bloom, contrasting the pink and the white. The white has been out for a couple of weeks but the pink is just out. I picked the right day as the white is on the way out.


We had a ceremony today, to put the plaque on Sophie’s memorial. The memorial is small raised beds, cross-shaped, for herbs. It was a private ceremony for her family and for garden volunteers. We mourned her loss, said what she meant to us. Karl, her partner, and two son, Dylan and Finn,  put in the plaque. I end this blog with a couple of the thoughts read out by those in attendance.


‘How to choose the right words, a skill Sophie certainly had. All the things that she contributed to – Forest Gate Arts, Up Beat and, of course, this Garden. Her energy (and right words) brought many things to the garden…’


‘Sitting in the Garden thinking of Sophie, it seems like she is basically everywhere. In the plants, the art, the story shed, the conversations between volunteers and the joy and sunshine. I don’t think I ever saw her without a smile or a purpose or a project.’

Comments 4

  1. There’s enough food in the pond for tadpoles already. My theory is that a high proportion are eating the wrong things, so lots of them die off. There’s nothing we do about that, besides which it is an untested theory.

  2. Another great blog Derek. Thanks for sharing the thoughts from the event for Sophie’s memorial, as I was very sad to be missing it.

  3. Hallo. Any chance that Newham Conservation Volunteers can get hold of some of your wildflowers to plant on one of their sites?

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