Monday, 28 November 2011

Helen the Gardener's guide to plug plants

If you're a beginner gardener, here's Mabley Meadow regular and professional gardener Helen Wilson's step-by-step guide to planting plug plants (aka tiny little seedlings you buy in trays).

Take the plug out of the tray - they often have a hole in the bottom so you can just pop it out with your finger.

Your plugs might be root-bound, which means the roots have coiled round and around inside the plant's container. You have to sort that out before planting, so gently rub your planting fork (or trowel) up and down the roots to loosen them slightly.

Until it looks a bit like this.

Loosen up the ground all around where you're going to plant. This will mean once your plant starts to grow, its roots will have lots of nice, loose soil to spread out into.

Dig a hole for your plug plant. If you get the depth of the hole just right, when you fill it in, the level of the ground should be the same as it was when the plant was in its container, with no roots showing.

Pop in the plug in the hole and gently press down the soil around it. Ideally, you should now water it, but because we didn't have a hose or watering can, we're just praying for rain instead. Luckily, because it's getting colder, the soil is still quite damp so we should be OK anyway

Now wait for you tiny little plants to grow big and strong.

Plugs a'plenty!

The planting session on Saturday was a great success! So now the areas around our amazing new benches are full of perennial wildflower species, which (if all goes well) will flower year after year without us having to lift a finger. We planted what are called 'plug plants', which are tiny little seedlings you buy in trays. The good news: they're super easy to plant - we planted 100 in less than an hour. The bad news (for now): they don't look like much at the moment. But if they like their new home, they'll look spectacular next summer.

We also put in some Camissia bulbs, which will look amazing. So next spring, take a seat on the sunny bench, and keep an eye out for something a bit like this:

Friday, 18 November 2011

Planting day - Saturday 26 November

Long, balmy autumns are perfect for planting - and we couldn't have been luckier this year. So on Saturday 26 November, come along to the meadow between 10am and 2pm and plant a wildflower or two.

The species we'll be planting are all perennials, so if they like their new home, they'll flower year after year without us having to lift a finger.

All tools will be provided, and all ages welcome.

See you there!

Palas por Pistolas - update

You might remember that way back in 2010, we were lucky enough to be paid a visit by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes - who's been planting trees all over the world as part of his incredible Palas por Pistolas project.

The walnut tree we planted with him is settling into Mabley Green nicely, and now Pedro has listed all the trees on his new project website. Check it out here, and take a look at Mabley Green's tree here.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Sowing the seeds of 2012

Last Saturday, a dedicated group of volunteers got to work sowing the next batch of wildflowers that'll help brighten up the meadow in 2012. We've shaken things up a bit this year by sowing more traditional meadow seeds (perennial flowers mixed with grass), so next spring will look slightly different from the last couple of years - but still amazing. Special thanks to Sue, Alix and Stuart for a sterling seed-sowing effort!

Mabley's Willow Weavers

On 25 September, artist Elsa Godfrey brought her amazing willow ball to the meadow and invited everyone and anyone to get involved and weave a new piece of willow into it. The ball started off life as a piece commissioned for Landscape of Change, a recent exhibition at BHVU Gallery, Stoke Newington - and it'll be growing even bigger over the next few months. To follow it's progress, take a look here.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Seed sowing extravaganza - Saturday 15 October

With winter on the way, it's time to get everything ready for a spectacular spring in 2012. So come down to the meadow on Saturday October 15 between 12pm and 4.30pm and help sow our next batch of wildflower seeds.

This will be our last gardening day before a 5 month break over winter, and this year will be slightly different than our other seed-sowing days in two important ways.

First, it'll be MUCH easier than other years, because instead of sowing annuals (plants that only live for one summer), we'll be sowing a meadow mix that includes grass and perennials (plants that come back year after year). So we'll have hardly any weeding and digging to do. Phew!

Second, the amazing Sue from Friends of Homerton Station will be leading the day. Sue's a passionate gardener and wildflower expert, so she'll be on hand to answer all your questions and make sure the meadow's better than ever in 2012.

See you there!

Bluebell planting and willow weaving workshop - Sunday 25 September

This weekend's going to be fantastic - with not one but two great events happening on the meadow. So come on down on Sunday 25 September from 12pm-4pm and get stuck in!

Bluebell Planting
Artist Penny Sabudin will be helping bring the endangered British Bluebell back from the brink by leading a planting session in the meadow. So next spring we'll have the makings of our very own bluebell wood! Come along, learn how to plant these rare beauties and help save them from extinction.

Willow weaving workshop
Penny will be joined by fellow artist Elsa Godfrey, who's weaving a giant ball made from willow stems. (You might know Elsa's work already - she made the huge woven ball in Clissold Park). Everyone's welcome to add a stem to Elsa's newest project, and learning about willow weaving along the way. It's a great activity for kids, and a thanks to the flyover, we'll be able to weave rain or shine.

See you there!

I hope you like daffodils....

Because the meadow now has hundreds of them! After a great effort from the dedicated meadow volunteers, we added planted three big bags of bulbs in under the grass by the path, so next year we should have hundreds of daffodils to brighten up the spring.

We started by getting used to our shiny new tools, courtesy of our Awards for All grant (thanks Big Lottery!)

Then The Floating Cinema paid us a visit, and everyone got involved with a bit of planting.

Then it was bulbs away for the rest of the afternoon!

A very special thanks to Danny, Chloe and Russell for their hard work and all-round amazingness during the day.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Daffodil day - Saturday 17 September

Autumn is in the air, which means now's the perfect time to fill up the meadow with spring bulbs. So on Saturday 17 September, we'll be holding an all-ages, drop-in bulb planting session from 12pm - 4pm as part of the Hackney Wick Festival.

As always, you can come whenever, and plant as many or as few bulbs as you like. But unlike other bulb-planting days, this year we'll have a bunch of these to help out (thanks Big Lottery Fund!). Which, I'm reliably informed, makes planting super easy and really satisfying.

As a reminder of how AMAZING the bulbs we planted last year looked when they flowered in spring. 2012 will be even better!

So long summer

It's been great!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Landscapes of Change Exhibition

Back in May, artist Penny Sadubin planted a load of native bluebells on the meadow. The bulbs were left over from an sculptural installation that Penny was making using these striking little plants. And we've been itching to see the results ever since. Well, the wait is now over, because Penny's bluebell artwork will be on display at:

Landscapes of Change
27th August – 18th September
BHVU Gallery, Leswin Place, London N16 7NJ

There are great events for kids too:
Elsa Godfrey’s Willow Ball - 3rd & 4th, 17th & 18th September 12:00 noon – 5pm.
Nina Gebauer’s Paper cinema workshop - 3rd September between 1pm – 4pm, with the performance at 7:30pm on Saturday 3rd September.

For more info, email Penny on psadubin at or check out the blog.

So head along and get stuck in - and take a look at what our bluebells were up to before they made the meadow their home. Everyone's also welcome at the private view tonight (Friday 26).

Say hello to our amazing new benches!

Sculptor Gary March has been chain-sawing, sanding, polishing and varnishing our spectacular benches over the last couple of weeks. So if you've been watching them take shape below the underpass, now you can head into the meadow for the full bench experience. Gary put all three benches in place a couple of days ago, and they look INCREDIBLE.

The official unveiling will happen at the daffodil bulb-planting on Saturday 17 September. So come along and get acquainted with our beautiful, one-of-a-kind benches - and you might even get your photo in the paper too!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Summer picnic - this Saturday!

All the seeds have been sown, all the bulbs have been planted. So now it's time to sit back and enjoy the rewards of our hard work with a picnic among the wildflowers. If that sounds like a good way to spend a Saturday, come along to the meadow tomorrow and have a day lounging, eating and chatting with your neighbours.

Then when you're picnic'd out, just head across to Mabley Green and help paint a giant mural on the grass as part of The People's Pitch.

Almost there!

The incredible Gary March has almost finished carving our equally incredible benches! Take a look at his almost-finished masterpieces!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Bench building with Gary March - Sunday 14 August

If you've been by the meadow in the last week or so, you'll have seen sculptor Gary March turning some local Ash logs into a set of beautiful, one-off benches for us. And on Sunday, we can help put the finishing touches on them, and start getting ready to put them in place.

So come to the meadow anytime from 12pm - 5pm on Sunday 14 August to get a carving lesson from Gary, and help make the meadow even more amazing!

And now on a more political note, the last week has seen the looting of London's communities - not least of all in Hackney. But while it only takes a small few to destroy, it takes an equally small (but much more powerful) few to build up our neighbourhoods and make them stronger and more cohesive, so that the riots never happen here again.

The meadow has always been about improving Hackney for the people who live here. But the last week proves that every action that we take to make our area better and our community more connected can be more than a good deed. It can be a highly political act too.

So whether you like sculpture, wildflowers, green spaces or just getting stuck in, come along on Sunday to prove that the positives in our area will always overcome the negatives. And we can all make a difference in our neighbourhood.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Our soon-to-be benches have arrived!

If you've taken a wander below the flyover next to Mabley Meadow lately, you might have spied two gigantic logs. But these aren't just any logs - they're sculptures in the making. Yes, over the next two weeks, sculptor Gary March will be carving them into incredible, one-of-a-kind benches for us. He'll be working on them below the flyover, so feel free to stop by and say hi. And if you come along on the August 14th, you can help him put the finishing touches on them before we install them among our wildflowers together.

Mabley's mushroom farmers

The mushroom farming on Sunday was a great success, and loads of fun too. Lots of people came along with itchy drill-trigger fingers and hot wax dabber thingies - and we filled a small mountain of logs with shiitake, oyster and chicken of the woods mushrooms. Now all we have to do is patiently wait by our foraging baskets for about six months. There were a lot of questions on the day about making the farm, so (technology permitting), I'll post a 'how to' video on here asap. In the meantime, here are some pics of our foray into fungi farming...

PS. a special thanks to muf for sponsoring our fungi spores, Folly for a Flyover for lending us their drills, and Hackney Council Parks Department for the logs.

If you want check up on the farm, just look out for this unassuming pile of leaves at the back of the meadow - next to the stag beetle habitat.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Let's make a mushroom farm!

The poster says it all! But just as a recap, if you'd like to learn how to turn wanted logs into a tasty treat, come to the meadow on Sunday 31 July from 1pm -4pm and help make our very own mushroom farm. We'll be filling logs with shiitake and oyster mushroom spores, so next spring, we can come back and harvest a fungi feast.

Our adventure in fungus is being supported by the nice folks at muf.

Friday, 8 July 2011