Derek – Friday 14th August 2020

Along Woodgrange Road, from the station to the Learning Zone, there are a number of planters, and some have fared better than others depending on whether people have been maintaining them.

There is now a tap in the water fountain outside the Fox and Hounds, so some of us have been taking a couple of watering cans from the Community Garden and heading off to water those planters nearby. The standout bed is the WI bed by the fountain. It is quite a small bed but is packed with marigolds, verbena, lavender and others. Obviously well looked after, with watering no problem being arm’s length from the water tap.

Those on the window ledges of Forest Gate station are doing well. They are planted with pelargoniums and petunias. Surprisingly, they don’t attract much litter. The long planters by the bike racks are not doing well. They are thinly planted, and barely flowering now.

At the top of Sebert, in the marketplace, there are three plantings. No 8 has a colourful wheelbarrow outside with succulents, which is well maintained. There’s a circular bed with a tree in the middle, that seems to attract fag ends. It has small box shrubs which are pretty healthy but few flowering plants. The long planter by the bike racks attracts cigarette ends and litter too. It suffered in the drought, but with the tap not far, we are keeping it going. Currently, pelargoniums and marigolds are in flower.

There are four square raised beds near Bereket. These have really been punished. The drought hasn’t helped, but they have become a social area for local drinkers. They sit on the edge of the bed, which has flat planking, and use the bed itself as a table for their bags and cans. The soil in these four planters was poor, and has just been changed, and the plants removed. They are to be put back in the next few days. How can we stop people sitting on the sides? Some hooped metal edging is being tried, along with Toblerone-shaped lengths of wood, sharp side up, so it can no longer act as a seat.

The Learning Zone has three beds: one side bed at the front, another at the rear and a large bed at the top of Dames Road. In the front bed I couldn’t see any amenity planting, just tree seedlings, thistles and dandelions. The rear side bed is almost lifeless with a few herbaceous plants, none in flower. The large bed is faring better than I thought it would be. The bed has hollyhocks, lavender, rosemary and marigolds. You can smell the herbs. It certainly needs a good tidy up and regular watering.

Clearly this has been a strange summer, and our public flower beds are low on anyone’s agenda. Spring flowering almost looks after itself with bulbs virtually guaranteed to flower. But in the summertime these beds need our attention. This last week, we have had four days over 30ºC and no rain for several weeks. We had some last night, and will likely get some this weekend, but it’s all very chancy.

A rota is being discussed to maintain these beds. The Community Garden is very much involved. We need a regular team to keep them tidy and to water.

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