Derek – Friday 4th September 2020

On Bank Holiday Monday, the Community Garden held a plant sale, and raised £786. Mostly from plants, but around two hundred of this came from food and drink and sale of bric-a-brac. The plants were not only from the garden but from supporters who had been bringing plants along on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday previous to the sale. The weather held out and over the three hours of the sale we had 120 visitors. Not all at once, I assure you.

What was obvious was the goodwill. From those who brought us plants, from volunteers, buyers and visitors. Much is wrapped up in that overused word, community. Yes, there’s a garden at 136 Earlham Grove, open again, but we have also been getting out and about, assisting in setting up planters in Forest Gate and keeping them going.

An exciting development is a meeting we are having with Clapton Community Football Club to see how we can work with them. After a long struggle, they now own the ground by the Spotted Dog, so deserving for all their effort, and so good for Forest Gate.

Coronavirus has hit all activity locally, especially those held indoors, in rooms and halls. And to top this, we are losing halls. Gone is the one at the Methodist Church, with its delayed building programme, heaven knows when it will even begin. And the new plans for Durning Hall do not include a community hall at all.

Where on earth are they coming from?

To some extent, the garden has become a hall. We’ve had two meetings of our volunteers in the garden. Last Tuesday, the local WI met here. Eleanor’s art class, which is unable to meet in the library, has been working here. She says her students love it; there’s plenty of space and greenery for them. A dance and movement workshop will be holding two sessions here in the next couple of weeks. And maybe the scouts and cubs.

But this is autumn, with temperatures cooling and the nights drawing in, and this will be a less desirable meeting place in a few weeks. Our last meeting, on Wednesday, ended in twilight at 8pm. The next will be early October, and we have asked attendees to bring a lantern, which will add atmosphere to our gathering. The weather this time of year is so variable, we’ll swaddle up if it’s chilly.

Two trumpet snails (Planorbis corneus) are on the flat floating leaves of the water lily. It’s a species prized by aquarists as these snails control excess vegetation. I have not seen them before on the water lily leaves. Yesterday we had a downpour, so maybe that brought them out of the water.

I wander round the garden looking at the few remaining flowers. There’s a solitary water lily in the pond near the aforementioned snails, a couple of lonely hollyhocks, a few bristly ox tongue flowers on a very tattered plant. We cut back the giant scabious and that got it flowering again. This is the time for Michaelmas daisies, there’s a reliable stand of goldenrod, bright yellow, in the centre of the garden, a couple of hibiscus blooms near the container, and just by the pergola there’s startling red crocosmia. By the old wall, there’s Japanese anemone, which reminds me of the Japanese rice in the Cereal Project, luxurious and thick but with no hint of seed.

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