A view from the Garden Gate Project: Watering, crops, blooms and Music Day artwork

Helichrysums and garlic drying at The Garden Gate Project

By Nick Condron

We may now be past midsummer, but July is often the hottest month of the year and it’s important to water plants around the garden and especially in our polytunnels as they need it. Watering as wisely as possible, by using water butts such as the ones installed on our large polytunnel and mulching beds with bark and composted organic matter, all helps to make the water we use in our gardens go as far as possible.

Brian and Michael marking the location of one of our white stemmed brambles

Brian tells me that, along with Michael and Ollie, he’s “been busy watering the 130 mixed native tree saplings that were planted in the adjacent Northdown Park earlier in the year and that although a few have died, the majority are coming on really well.

“In the garden now,” he says, “it’s mostly a case of keeping on top of mowing, edging and weeding. The long grass in our no-mow memorial circles has been cut back. The spring planted hops have grown almost to the top of their supporting strings and we’re expecting flowers to appear in due course.

Fava Beans drying on the plant

“The garlic’s all been picked, large and small, and hung up to dry indoors. The potatoes have mostly been dug up. Our fava/broad bean crop is being left to dry out on the plants before harvesting. And Julie’s been picking all the raspberries for making syrups for the Music Day.

“Meanwhile, the tomatoes are growing well under cover, with the ones planted outside in the no-dig beds making slightly slower but healthy progress, alongside courgettes. Whilst what remains of the large lettuces have mostly gone to seed, which is why we’re sowing more every few weeks to keep them coming.”

Buddleia in bloom

Walking around the garden it’s amazing to see just how much everything has grown during the recent warm spell. Besides all the vegetables, the herbaceous beds in particular are overflowing with pink buddleia and geraniums, orange day lilies, yellow verbascums and towering blue echiums.

Verbascums and Echiums in bloom

Our cut flower corner is steadily producing fragrant sweet peas, and dazzlingly colourful dahlia, rudbeckia and zinnia blooms ready for bunching. And we’ve already picked a good number of helichrysum everlasting flowers, which are hung up and drying beside the garlic. It really is wonderful to see the garden producing so many edible crops and beautiful blooms!

With this in mind and inspired by Japanese art, Charley has been working hard to create the backdrop for this year’s Music Day. It will be made up of roughly 150 brightly coloured, cut-out paper, smiley flower faces covering three large canvasses that have been kindly donated to the garden.

The intention is to capture the spirit of the garden and our community and Charley laughs as she says of the faces, “I’m sure each one is one of us!”

Some Garden Gaters have also been decorating their own flower faces to decorate the front of the stage. Charley’s also using a striking neon style of writing for the stall signs that she’s creating. And finally, she tells me that our woodshed is going to be turned into a blacked out rave area, featuring Garden Gate made African-inspired masks that will have their features picked out with glow in the dark paint. It all sounds very exciting and we look forward to welcoming those of you who’ll be joining us for our Music Day on 23rd July.*

*Please note that this is a ticketed event now sold out.


1 Comment

  1. Great place ,l have helped out there some year’s ago, l remember when the polytunnel was built and Paul would cook up vegetables grown on site and we would all have a bowl 🥣 of veg soup ,

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