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Patmore Forest Garden – Final Planting Day this Sunday!

This Sunday will be your final chance to join us on site at Patmore Forest Garden, to help us complete the planting of hundreds of edible plants!

We have already completed two planting sessions over the past fortnight, and we were joined by a huge crew of local kids, who amazed us with their enthusiasm for digging horse manure into the soil!

Once the final bit of ground was well prepared with the manure, we planted fruit trees, grape vines, hops, and started on some of the ground cover, such as wild strawberries and mint. Check out how busy everybody was:

This Sunday, we have hundreds of fruit bushes, flowering perennials and lots more ground cover to add. The plants have been chosen based on the principles of Forest Gardening, which means they will work together to boost soil fertility and attract pollinators, ensuring we get bumper crops of fruits, nuts, herbs and berries in future years! But we need your help to get all these plants into the ground! Come join us this Sunday, 8th March from 12 until 3pm. The garden is located on Patmore Estate, beside the playground between Stroudley House and Beattie House. Hope to see you there! 🙂

Bancroft Science Garden Update

We’ve been working on Bancroft TMC Estate in Bethnal Green for a little while now, transforming a forgotten corner of the estate into a brand new educational space for families. Tucked away at the end of a residential road is a little fenced-off area that was once used as a area for dog training, but has been locked up for many years.

Last year the estate approached us and asked us to think of a way to put the space to use, in a way that could involve families with young children, and perhaps even some of the local primary schools. So we’ve been creating a Science Garden!

Included in the new Science Garden will be a native, wildlife-friendly hedge, mini wildflower meadow, raised beds for carrying out experimental growing, bird and bat boxes, herb beds, bird feeders, bug hotels, a mini pond and even a weather station where children can record things like rainfall amounts, air temperate and wind direction!

Today we installed a new picnic table, planted the hedge, built the frame for one of the bug hotels, and covered the ground with bark chipping. We are on track to complete the development work in time for some community events over the Easter school break, including workshops building the remaining animal and insect homes, and we’ll be celebrating with a big launch party. We will announce dates for all of this shortly 🙂

For now, we wanted to share a few before and after photos of the site from the day we found it, to how it looks today:

Growing Gardeners at Max Roach

We are teaming up with the Healthy Living Platform to offer free gardening skills workshops for people who sign up to become ‘Garden Ambassadors’ at Max Roach Adventure Playground in Brixton.

The Healthy Living Platform are looking to build a team of ‘Garden Ambassadors’ to help maintain the food growing spaces at the Max Roach centre. This is your opportunity to learn all the skills needed to grow healthy, organic food and help to care for your local community growing space. If you don’t have a garden of your own (as is the case for the majority of Londoners), growing in a shared community garden is a great way to have access to land. Even if you do have a small garden this garden has a polytunnel, lots of tools and great compost, and lots of land.

The training programme will consist of a series of four sessions in February and March – repeated on Thursdays and Saturdays. A creche for children under 5 will be provided during the Thursday workshops. This will then lead to regularly monthly Saturday growing sessions on site so you will be able to sow seed and reap the benefit of the harvest later in the year.

The dates are:

Thursdays 12.30-3pm – February 27th, March 5th, March 12th, March 19th

Saturdays 10-1pm – February 22nd, February 29th, March 7th (change to timing that day – 2-5pm) and March 14th.

Topics that will be covered are:

Week 1– Understanding soil and how to make compost
Week 2 – Propagation by seed sowing and taking cuttings
Week 3 – Using protective environments & identifying pests and diseases
Week 4 – Organic gardening methods and tool maintenance

To book please call or text Helen on 07701 365551

To learn more about the gardens at Max Roach, and the development work that we’ve been carrying out with the HLP over the past few years – click here.

Patmore Forest Garden workshop dates

We have announced the dates for our planting workshops at Patmore Forest Garden – our new garden on Patmore Estate in Nine Elms, created in partnership with Edible Avenue SW8, and funded by the Mayor of London’s Greener City Fund.

The garden will be planted up using Forest Gardening principals – Forest gardening is a low-maintenance, sustainable, plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans. We have carefully chosen the plants for the garden to ensure that they will create an ecosystem where the plants will help to sustain each other into the future, so minimal maintenance will be required!

Two weeks ago we were on site to prepare the ground for planting. We have chosen a location with some incredible hard landscaping already in place – a circular bed, surround on one third by a shelter frame that is crying out to support climbers, and seating already in place. It is located along a path, beside a playground, and near where we have already recently planted new fruit trees!

Since then, we have ordered hundreds of plants, which have begun to arrive on site, and this week we were out in force on the estate delivering leaflets through residents letterboxes. We now have dates confirmed for our planting workshops, when people can join us to get the plants into the ground, and learn about how they can return in future to harvest the food!

Workshops will take place across three Sundays on the following dates: February 23rd, March 1st and March 8th from 12 to 3pm on each date. Do pop down if you’d like to get involved in the planting, or just to learn more about the garden and Forest Garden techniques!

Ruskin Park Wildlife Garden Upgrade Works

We’ve spent this week in the beautiful Wildlife Garden at Ruskin Park in Camberwell. The amazing spring weather certainly helped, but this garden space is a gorgeous place to spend time in any weather!

The Friends of Ruskin Park asked us to carry out some upgrade works in the garden, so that a new bog area could be developed. Ruskin Park is sited on top of natural springs, which means that the ponds there have never had to be manually topped up, but it also causes some problems – in particular in the wildlife garden which is at the lower end of the park, and gets extremely waterlogged during the winter months. To mitigate against that, FoRP recently employed Froglife to create new scrapes – shallow areas of land that have been dug away and act as water storage, as well as providing a great spot for birds to drink and wash during the summer!

We met with FoRP last month to discuss what other works we could do for them to actually take the problem of the saturated ground and run with it to create even more wetland habitat for wildlife! We decided to change the route of the path that runs to the west of the pond, and take it up onto higher ground, while blocking the lower track from access by humans, thus creating a new bog area, that we will plant up later in the spring.

We created the new path by digging a track out of the ground cover grass, and filling with woodchip as a temporary fixture until the track becomes well trodden by visitors and the woodchip is no longer needed. We built a couple a couple of steps down from the upper path to the pond dipping platform. We also raised the ground level to meet the base of the dipping platform, creating a hibernaculum beneath while we were at it!

We redirected the bridge over the small stream, to encourage people to walk the new path, and we planted some loosestrife at either end of the new bog area – we’re hoping this grows tall and discourages people from walking through here.

While we were working in the garden, the team from Lambeth Landscapes also joined us for a day – they did a big clear out of overgrown plants in the pond itself, as well as cutting out bramble from the perimeter of the garden.

We are now working with FoRP to write content for a new lectern at the entrance to the wildlife garden, so that visitors will be able to understand each of the habitats, and learn about which wildlife they support.

Our educational work in schools and with families

Urban Canopy was formed in 2016 when two friends got together to host educational workshops for local schools at Kennington Park, during the restoration of the formal flower garden there. Following the workshops, we were contacted by the schools who were keen to take the learning we had been delivering, and bring it onto the school grounds on a regular basis. Since then, we have been providing interactive and engaging gardening education opportunities for school children across London.

We can work with children and teachers to plan and create inspirational and sustainable gardens tailored to an individual school’s needs, with a view to creating spaces that support delivery of curriculum-based outdoor leaning across the year.

From orchards to wildlife gardens, sensory planting schemes to edible gardens, we engage with the school’s community during the creation of the outdoor educational space, as we have been doing at St. Mark’s CofE school in Kennington for four years now, where we worked with the community to restore the food and wildlife gardens, before developing a programme of regular lessons for students there.

We can also create a programme of after-school gardening clubs, as we have done with St. George’s School in Battersea. Here we also engaged children with weekly curriculum-based lessons, and regularly get the children involved in our other gardening activities in the local area, such as our Sundial Gardens installation for Chelsea Fringe in 2018.

As well as working on site at primary schools, we have experience in creating workshops in other settings, where schools can visit for educational site trips. We’ve hosted workshops at Chiswick House’s Walled Kitchen Garden, at Brixton Windmill, and have recently developed a schools education programme for the gardens at Ruskin Park.

We have worked closely with organisations such as the Healthy Living Platform to develop a programme of outdoor educational play for younger children, aged under four years, at Max Roach Adventure Playground, and have developed a Forest Garden programme to invite pre-nursery aged kids to visit the wildlife garden at St. Mark’s School.

We are always happy to drop by and see your school’s grounds and hear about your needs before developing a tailored proposal for you and your children, so drop us an email on info@urbancanopy.org and we can have a chat about we might be able to help you.

Growing communities and improving outdoor spaces on estates

Urban Canopy is a partnership of gardeners and teachers that work with residents to improve green space, develop the community and build skill sets.

We believe that introducing a community gardening scheme to an estate can have many positive impacts for local residents.

Gardening activities offer a great opportunity to bring a diverse range of ages and ethnicities together around a common interest, while the green spaces developed together with the community help to bring a sense of pride and ownership of the local environment.

We have worked with tenant management organisations to improve the environment, and to help build communities on estates across London.
This has included working with residents to develop space as a community garden on Gilesmead Estate in Camberwell, as well as hosting monthly workshops in the garden for the residents, and a similar project on Downs Estate in Hackney.

We have created community orchards and arboretums, on Loughborough Estate in Brixton and on D’Eynsford Estate in Camberwell.

We also run regular gardening clubs where children and adults can develop gardening skills, and volunteer gardening sessions, aimed at improving green space and helping elderly or disabled residents with their gardens. For example, we work with the organisation Edible Avenue SW8 to delivery a weekly volunteer gardening session for residents of Carey Gardens, Savona and Patmore Estates in Battersea, while at the same time hosting an after-school gardening club for children at the local primary school.

Our work on estates always begins with engaging and consulting the community about what they would like to see taking place, before writing a proposal that works for that site and group of residents. If you’d like to speak to us about how we could work with you in future, please get in touch! Email info@urbancanopy.org and we can arrange a site visit.

Our horticultural installations and project-based work

We’ve had the opportunity over the years to partner with a variety of organisations to design and create horticultural installations that bring people together in their creation, and inspire communities through their messages and outcomes.

Our four-part Sundial Gardens installation on Patmore Estate, which formed a part of the Chelsea Fringe in 2018, inspired children on the estate who participated in the planting, and gave an excuse for residents at different ends of the estate to come together for the launch party and get to know each other.

The following year as part of the Nine Elms Happy Streets Festival, we created a four-part Tea Trail across three estates, where visitors could explore and learn about medicinal plants that could provide healing properties for a wide range of ailments.

We will shortly be announcing the details of our big set-piece installation for 2020, which is currently top-secret, but will be taking place across housing estates in Bermondsey!

Across these projects, we have worked with local authorities, development companies, heritage societies, community and charity organisations, schools, housing management companies and local businesses. If you’ve got an idea for a horticultural installation, or if you’ve got a location and are in need of a professional team who can develop some inspiring ideas, get in touch with us at info@urbancanopy.org and we’ll have a chat about how we can help!