The UP Garden's large size allows us to run different plant projects. Although we have a couple of knowledgeable hobby gardeners amongst our regular volunteers, most of us are new to gardening! We don't consider anything to be a failure, just a learning opportunity; The UP Garden will evolve as we try out different ideas and suggestions.
Certain planters are allocated to estate residents with no gardens of their own, who are interested in growing edible plants for their own use. It has been fascinating to see the different plants each household has chosen to grow, and how they have been used in meals!
If you are a council tenant with no garden of your own, you can join The UP Garden’s waitlist here.
Adopt a planter scheme
Details coming soon!
We encourage upcycling where possible, so instead of having the laundry poles sawn out, we asked to keep them so we can grow wisteria along them. The wisteria is just starting to creep its way across the laundry lines, and will take time to spread out, but eventually we should have a natural pergola! It's also a nice touch to give an original feature new purpose, that lets visitors know why the Yard exists in the first place.
We inherited some huge tree stumps so decided to make them into a feature, adding smaller stumps that insects can use to create homes in. During our first winter, we planted a variety of spring bulbs, such as English bluebells (which are under threat across the countryside), daffodils, crocuses, snowdrops, and scillas. Due to its location, the stumpery is also where we experiment with plants that prefer more shade.
With help from CPRE and Totum Partners, we excavated a 3x3m asphalt slab and turned it into a wildflower bed with plants specifically chosen to attract bees and other pollinators. So far we've spotted ox-eye daisies, cornflowers, musk mallows, poppies, fiddlenecks and corn marigolds. It's incredible how popular the bee bed is - dozens of bees every day in warm weather!
We have started digging out a 1x8m bed at the end of the urban meadow with help from GoodGym. On 12 August 2023, Sustainably Muslim will host a 'Big City Butterflies' event funded by Butterfly Conservation. Along with various themed activities, they will fill the bed with plants specifically chosen to attract butterflies and moths, which have been disappearing due to habitat threats.
To encourage visitors to come by sustainable means of transport, Doing R Bit made us a buggy shelter, scooter rack and bike rack. This also helps to keep walkways clear and everyone that bit safer. We always look for an opportunity to add green features, so a herb roof was incorporated into the buggy shelter (which also funnels excess rain into a water butt). There are a few herbs that grow well in shallow soil: we have mint, creeping thyme, lemon thyme, dill and chive.
LuLin Teas have been huge supporters of The UP Garden since early days. When this Forest Gate business asked if they could grow tea here to help with demonstration workshops, we jumped at the chance! The contents of one of our long planters were not doing well so all salvageable plants were transplanted around the Yard by our volunteers. Then they emptied it of the existing compost/sand/soil mix (topping up other planters), and filled it with ericaceous soil instead. LuLin Teas donated four tea trees, and did the honours by planting and watering them.
We added a net barrier to protect them from cheeky foxes and cats. Once they're less vulnerable, we can remove the barrier. When they get to 'tea-bush size' (although all tea plants are actually trees), the planter will only accommodate two, but we have started with four to give us more chance of success.
As all tea comes from the same plant, a tea variety is determined by where it is grown, the climate, soil conditions and how the tea is processed (like wine!), so LuLin Teas says that should be enough to make the tea that comes from our plants "The UP Garden tea"! We can't wait to try it so fingers crossed we can keep the tea trees alive (East London is not a natural home for tea growing)!