Wednesday, September 03, 2008

September update

Last chance

This is the last chance to see the garden before the ‘big revamp’ next year, so if you have been meaning to come but putting it off…. You will still be able to come in and do some work, but you won’t be able to swan around admiring it for a year or so,– and when you do come back it will look very different.

Entrance will be from the A4 car park through a tiny gate in the midst of the Garrya elliptica (big hedge of tasselly overgrowth parallel to the A4). Come through the ‘magic forest’ where a kids'’ treasure trail will be held as usual, and then out into the lovely walled garden space to admire the veg, fruit, flowers and herbs at the culmination of the growing season.

Refreshments - more than usual, given the closure of the main café in the park - will be served in the polytunnel if wet, so you can admire our melons, aubergines and peppers as you sip your tea. So even if it is raining, still come.

There will be a plant sale, including fruit bushes and vines, sweet Williams and herbs.

All being well, with contractors and authorities and us all singing from the same song sheet, there should be disabled and buggy access, via the hockey field. (We’re practising our scales.)

September drop-in work session, Sunday September 7th, 1-5pm

Drop in and help us polish the garden in preparation for the open day. Potting up surplus plants for sale, weeding (of course!), dead-heading. Children welcome but with a responsible adult. All equipment supplied. Access,– see above.

Food growing classes

Provisional date set for Sunday 5th October. Price £30, which will include a free fruit bush or grape vine. More information to follow, and dependent on enough people being interested.

Buy our veg and flowers…

In collaboration with local not-for-profit organization, Chiswick Local Produce, we have been selling our surplus veg at Andreas, the greengrocer on Turnham Green Terrace, and our cutting flowers via Pot Pourri on the High Road. If you have a glut of your own fruit or veg that you would like to shift, contact Sarah Cruz on

Kitchen Garden news

We have been struggling a little through summer with various building works encroaching into the garden, which will not surprise anyone who has been using the park in the last months. We are told it will all be fabulous at the end but, as with any surgery, the process is painful.

Our main entrance, the big formal gates behind the conservatory, remains blocked as the builders continue their complicated trenching and drainage work, but they have made progress and we look forward to getting access to our greenhouses at some point (hopefully not too distant).

We remain in mourning for the pigs that we hoped would clear the northern walled garden, but given the archaeological trenches that were dug through the proto-piggy area shortly after they would have arrived, it was definitely the right decision.

The archaeologists also dug several trenches around the southern garden: as well as the two in the piggy orchard area, there was one in the sweet corn and pumpkins, one in the potatoes, one in the strawberries and one in the runner beans – but a couple of the trenches bore fruit (excuse the bitter pun), as they discovered evidence for the original path layout, and also – more excitingly - a large early 19th century well. The top of the well was 1.5m below surface layer (or, as we call it, the pumpkin layer), and extended down an impressive 4.5m. There was no water in it, and it much resembled a sort of round brick oubliette. The temptation to leave a souvenir for future archaeologists was strongly resisted.

These trenches, along with a soakaway alongside the Education Centre, have now been re-filled, and the schoolchildren who start coming for their work sessions from this week will be re-planting them in readiness for winter crops and, of course, for the open day, so we hope the gaps will barely be noticed.

Crop news

The tomatoes have been superb, due partly to the weather, and partly to the dedicated attention of Tomato Commander Roger Morsley Smith, who has ruthlessly marshalled his crops and produced a wonderful harvest. After a couple of years of disasters, the attention this year – in selecting blight-resistant, tasty, small varieties, and in training the plants correctly – has really paid off.

The grapes, cropping for the first time, looked good but were eaten this week, presumably by a squirrel or pigeon who also thought so.

Autumn raspberries, blueberries, melons, aubergines, peppers, brassicas, potato main crops, leeks, etc have also been superb, as well as the cutting flower bed which has proved very productive.

Other park news

Separate contractors are now working on the conservatory, the café and the hockey-field/access yard/riverside path. They are all due to be there for many months, over a year in some cases. The mobile café van is now open by the cricket pavilion, along with temporary loos.