an image of a wooden christmas tree behind a fence

Festival Countdown – Sunday 31st Dec, 2023

On Christmas Eve we had our last event of the year. A children’s event with a search game round the garden and art too, with Santa Claus in the book shed. Grown ups were invited too, for hot chocolate or tea, mince pies and biscuits, and a natter. It was also the culmination of Forest Gate Festive Countdown. Local residents had been invited to become part of a street Advent calendar. On Earlham Grove, Sprowston and Clova Roads, from the 1st of December, the day number went up in one of the windows, day on day, until the 24 December. The garden had three numbers: 2, 16, and 24. Some participants went for plain numbers, nothing fussy, others were ornate, a few went for numbers that could be seen both day and night on these short days. A festive map had been printed, and it was gratifying to see residents going round the streets searching for the numbers. I hope we have it again next year.

Magazines and newspapers do it, TV does it too, highlights of the year, so I thought I’d join in and pick some moments from this year’s blogs.

20 January 2023

There are only two flowing plants in our cold, frosty garden: marigolds and Viburnum tinus. They brighten our winter a little but what do the plants themselves get out of it? The purpose of flowers is to attract insects to take pollen from flower to flower and so fertilise the seeds. But there are no insects around. They are cold blooded and either killed off in the frosts or dormant. It can only be the plant’s strategy is to keep on flowering, and so catch the first insects in the spring.

26 March 2023

Our tadpoles are just coming out of the jelly. A few are free swimming, though masses of them clinging to the jelly, and plenty are still inside. In a few days, there will be lots all over the pond. I don’t see any adult frogs which were present for the spawning. They have done their bit and gone.

23 April 2023

‘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.’

25 June

At the pond, I always look for the Peter Pan tadpoles, those left behind, in the journey to adulthood.  I see a children’s picture book, like Hans Anderson’s Ugly Duckling. The poor PP sees all its brothers and sisters developing legs, losing their tails, and becoming froglets, and leaping out of the pond. Goodbye! While PP remains a forlorn tadpole. And then a double spread, maybe two, of cold winter chill, ice on the pond and snow, and a shivering tadpole. But then it’s spring, sunshine, and hey presto! Legs. Very fine legs, indeed.

6 August 2023

There are many honey bees about the garden. In the hollyhocks, around the globe thistles and deep in the penstemons. Though, you often see a bee head into a flower and immediately back out and go to another. They have smelt an earlier bee in the first flower, and know that there will be little nectar left, and so don’t waste their time.

9 September 2023

We have our standpipe. Thames Water put in the meter and piping, ready for us to fix a standpipe which we did midweek. It was quite an effort getting through the concrete and needed a hefty drill. But it has been done. We have used it for watering the garden. I did one of the sessions myself. I am sure I will get used to it very quickly, but it felt quite remarkable, actually watering with a hose.

24 September 2023

Last Sunday, around 60 of us came to the garden, to hear music in celebration of the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah. We listened to the violinist Adriana Cristea playing traditional Jewish melodies, as we ate honey cake and apple with honey. The violin sound covered much of the garden. I was surprised how far it carried, a small stringed instrument drawn with a bow.

29 October 2023

Our musicians were Dogjammers, an old favourites of ours. They were heroic playing for an hour in the chill, very tough on fingers needed for guitar plucking, tambourines and accordion. Dogjammers are a large group, originating at the Spotted Dog, hence the name. Too many years ago that pub shut down, parts of it dating back to Tudor days. And is much mourned.

Sunday 26 November 2023

On Saturday, 25 November, the garden hosted a sustainable gifts fair. The various stalls sold pottery, woollens, toys, clothing, hats, bags, art works, books and cakes. On the Dare to Dream stage, as part of the fair, Sonya Patel Ellis directed wreath making for Christmas, a very popular activity. The garden made tea and coffee, very welcome on a cold November day.

A Happy New Year to all our readers. It will be a busy 2024 for sure in the garden, with our PPP money to spend on various projects.

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