Archive for the ‘House Plants’ Category

London Eco projects

March 4, 2015

seeds for a swapping in the

South London Seed Swap organised by Lewisham Gardens (Anne-Marie at the helm)

This proved to be a lovely afternoon, out at the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden, with dozens of enthusiasts bringing their bulbs and seeds into the garden, to share, swap and exchange. I selected a range of veg, herbs and flowers to take in for my swap and as exchange, selected a range of others including; 2 varieties of kale, cress, swede (we shared out a pack), 2 types of cauliflower and lettuce, peppers, tomatoes (as a result of hearing Mihail from the nursery discuss his tips), plus basil, echinacea, 2 varieties of sunflower and half a dozen other flowering annuals 🙂

There were also a series of excellent workshops; demonstrations to educate on new skills. We learnt how to hold and twist a bouquet of flowers, to form the perfect jug, from every angle, by Sharmini, a local seasonal florist who designs the floral arrangements for the garden museum in Lambeth. She very carefully showed us how to add different colour stems and place them at angles which appeared to me odd, at first, plus foliage, but when all fully combined, yielded the prettiest of bouquets. She shared, too, her trick to displaying stems in a wide neck vase: place scelloptape in a criss-cross pattern across the top, to keep them in their place, to prevent them from falling over.seed swapping day Lewisham Gardens

Next up was Mihail from Dig this Nursery; a heath shop, plant nursery & cafe by New Cross ‘Venue’ club… it has recently moved there, from opposite New X Gate area (by the Hobgoblin Pub). Now they are in their new home and teaching us here, how to best sow our tomato plants; in to the smallest containers first, prior to planting into slightly larger pots, then into hanging baskets (in order to avoid slugs etc) or raised beds etc. This makes a lot of sense; to develop the roots gradually and to master the stems first.

Finally we learnt about Wildlife Gardening from Alison, who’d driven all the way up from Kent (where it had been snowing-proper) to teach us about easy ways to attract all sorts of wildlife & engage us with a nice quiz! 🙂

We left feeling v.happy (though I’d have felt happier had I not had a flat back tyre & had to walk, all the way home, to SE6…)

WM garden trowel

The V&A have launched a William Morris design range of garden tools; inspred by his paintings & art work, there’s a torch, tape measure, scissors, secateurs and hammer\screwdriver multi-tool (all of which I am much enamoured by) and I recently bought myself a garden trowel, in a ‘Daisy’ print design. It is both stunningly beautiful and utterly practical; Morris would approve, himself. 🙂 Re- the recent exhibition at the NPG in London; on his life & work 🙂

Other news: I recently attended an Introduction to Permaculture Course based at Stepney City Farm, which is a super-fab place to hang out, at the best of times. We enjoyed the course enormously; it was justthe right mix and balance of fun, studious design efforts & planning out projects that was needed. Plus we turned compost heaps and were left to roam the farm to develop our senses of this environment.

primula potSpring has sprung! My colour-co-ordinated Primula plant pots, in the kitchen (matching the blind!) 🙂

An unforgettable floral and feathery afternoon at Kew

July 8, 2014

This afternoon, a friend took me to visit Kew Gardens again, with the premise of viewing the art exhibition currently available to view by Marianne North and the garden shop for a plant present.
We began by visiting the Gin & Tonic section (only open at weekends) as part of the Plantasia exhibition and learnt that many medicinal plants are traditionally used in the drink.
We ate our packed lunch in the grounds; sprouted green lentils, avocado, linseed crackers and lettuce tacos with hummus, cucumber, mallow flower and freshly picked wild rocket from near my garden. For dessert: A fresh Chocolate Orange Cream.
We made our way towards the art gallery via the main lake and palm house; collecting a pine cone and Ginko Biloba leaves on the way as momentos….
the lakeside planting is so beautiful; vibrant red crocosmia highlighted by a mauve flowering plant. There is also a beautiful old fountain in the centre which adds a historical feel. We went into the Lilly house where we heard a tour guide explaining the pollination techniques of one of the grand lillies and how the Beautiful Lotus flower plants have leaves that allow the rain water to fall straight off (a lesson for life here, as was explained later, by an Indian doctor).
The Lilly pad leaves are huge by all standards and look like you want to jump into the pond and sit on them, like Alice in Wonderland! 🙂

Then we went into the main palm house to see more tropical plants: Coffee, Mangos, Bananas, Macadamia Nut and Neem, the natural anti-septic, anti-fungal (anti-everything-undesirable!) native from India. (Akin to the Australia Tea Tree). We met a couple of Indian Doctors who stopped to explain their personal experiences & benefits of Neem… now in their 60s\70s, they both experience perfect dental health (with no cavities… unlike their children) due to using Neem twigs as toothbrushes\floss extensively during their childhoods. Neem is so good for teeth and gums it appears, that it is still used today. Plus, the eldest said, the only place he knew where to get them from, is in Lewisham…  That’s handy, then! 🙂

They went on to talk about further natural herbal and gastronomic remedies: Coconut Oil benefits also include Cholesterol reduction, Turmeric uses inc. as a preservative and skin cleanser\detoxifier for conditions and Darjeeling tea beats coffee any time (but then, he would say that.. 😉 )  We sat in the humidity and talked about Ayurvedics and the ‘5 holy tree effect’ (for meditation inc Oak for air purity, Neem for medicine, banana for energy etc.)

Their parting words were concerning the beautiful, pink Lotus Flowers, growing in the Lilly house pond next door; that we should be like the Lotus, which sits tall above the water level; its roots stretch deep into the murky waters below. The plant lets the water from rain roll straight off its leaves; the message being to remain beautiful and unaffected – of the world but in the world. This is a Krishna based belief but has a direct reference and similarity to Christianity.

The heat rose to a level to warrant a breather outdoors.  Thanks to Dr Ghosh (whose son is an obesity GP specialist) 🙂

We moved onto the shop, which contains an amazing assortment of every seasonal vegetable, fruit and shrubs etc plus all lovely garden paraphernalia.  We found some nice presents in the form of plants for friends & family, a vintage floral print tea towel and magnet (a cook’s essentials…)   http://shop.kew.org/homeware/tea-towels-and-aprons  The delightful thing is that these images at Kew’s shop, match the very postcards which I’d purchased 5 months earlier at a postcard fair (which is now no longer in existance) but I have the postcards and soon a whole collection of inspired things for the home. (now on my b.day present list…)

Since the Marianne North botanical art exhibition was closing, we viewed the prints in the shop instead; a rich, vibrant, tropical mix of flowers and foods. (view) http://prints.kew.org/category/botanical-art/marianne-north I could almost smell the scent of the Red Hibiscus!

A quick trip to Miss M’s curious curiosities – Medicinal Plants at Kew – we learnt about the pharmaceutical properties and uses of the plants: from opium poppy – to morphine\heroine, meadowsweet to quinine (and how Oliver Cromwell had died without it).  A male peacock appeared and strutted his stuff with his plumage lying low, I stood, taking photos. Miss M remarked “Oh look, he’s leaving you a feather…” and sure enough, as he walked off, a feather dropped out and I ran to collect it, waving it proudly! “A feather!” I exclaimed. This day is now complete! (even though we had missed the real art… 😦 ) Feeling utterly delighted that I had a feather, given to me, directly from the bird (without any cruelty involved), we went home via the city; from floral tranquillity into commute-life humdrum.

kew peacock

Palm House @Kewkew 2 ph roof kew 7 ph oldest tree trunk kew ph 3 red berries kew ph 4 view kew ph 5 coffee kew ph 5 oldest tree kew ph 7 timeline

Local weekend antics

June 2, 2014

Before my Healthwise clinic began in the afternoon, I chose to visit A Chelsea Fringe event – a Gardening road show – what would this be like {Q} I went over to St Catherine’s church in New Cross, by the ever lovely Telegraph Hill Pk to  investigate. The park is alive with flowing the stream\waterfall and exotic planting, alongside African monuments & grassy slopes.  The fair, though small, was bustling with activity and horticultural expertise from the Kent fairs with succulents from blueleaf plants, bouquets from Bow Meadows and herbs from Invicta 🙂 Enjoyed a lovely atmosphere for an hr til I had to head off towards Blackheath.flowers etc spring May 13 202

En route, discovering the delightful mini-health shop & plant nursery, Dig this Nursery http://www.digthisnursery.co.uk  located by the railway bridge, directly opposite New Cross Gate stn, with plants outside (it makes a nice change in the area 😉 ) They sell plants, flowers, organic fresh produce and a good selection of grocery goods etc in a wee spot. A lovely little place to stock up on the essentials!

Next shop stop Greenwich Market, raw food \ mixed salad stall (& other bakers & cooked veg*n delicacies) to enjoy in the park & meander through the beautiful flower gardens on the way back home. flowers etc spring May 13 211flowers etc spring May 13 218flowers etc spring May 13 222

Fortunately another sunny day on Sunday, brought planting out the new Chelsea Flower show plants inc cornflower and a borage; all purple and blue ground covers and red foliage and gardening in general, since I’d been away over the past few weeks.

Next up, I got a call from my dad, who told me that our neighbouring rd, Further Green Rd, was having a street party, so I went round to investigate. A wonderful time was had by all, including a salsa dancing spot and local dignitaries 🙂

Our gathering Elder flowers all weekend (and ever since) has not been in vain. All week, Cerys Matthews (from Catatonia fame) is DJing on Radio 2 from 8-10pm discussing foraging, amongst other brilliant things. Unable to resist my favourite topic of the month, I sent in a short txt msg about the walk and edible foods inc. the refresher recipe and had a mention live on air. It seems that Cerys is not just a super singer & DJ but a foraging lover too…!

My fridge has been full of containers full of flowers and water, on a cyclical basis since they came out into bloom. It’s the most flavourful drink I know and is pertained to be healing for hay-fever and mucous conditions (since it is beneficial to the mucus lining).

So go & get picking whilst they last! 😉 Elder flowers cluster from Mansfield Pk