Thursday, 19 May 2011

East Lodge Sustainability Garden. May News


May News

Action 21’s wonderful garden site behind the East Lodge Sustainability Centre (at the Willes Road entrance to Jephson Gardens) is developing, many thanks to volunteers and donations of plants & materials.

Following two Permaculture courses (last summer and this winter) we are designing and building the garden as a Permaculture demonstration – that is, showing how we in Leamington can grow much of our food making use of the ‘genius of the place’ with nuts and fruits, and with perennial as well as annual veggies, including traditional and local plants.

If you have been there recently, you’ll have seen a flourishing kitchen herb garden out front – and paths and beds in states of progress inside. The focus this summer is on developing these planting areas:

  • Main bed as a permanent mini ‘forest’ garden, with fruit trees, bushes and perennial fruit & vegetables, and some temporary height using the ‘Indian trio’ of corn, beans and squashes this summer
  • Wildlife-friendly hedge along Willes Road to give us some protection from careless interlopers, but also provide both bird & beneficial insect food and autumn berries for use in syrups
  • Demonstration ‘balcony’ garden using containers, to show what it is possible to grow in a very limited (but sunny) space
  • Nut trees – probably filberts
  • Making good use of climbing fruit and vegetables along our internal fences
  • Wildlife corridor by the river
  • Experimenting with pre-agricultural food staples – such as bulrushes, a major source of carbs for early Britons!
  • Easy and proven medicinal herb bed – although they may not all be European natives, we’re aiming for a useful and hardy set of herbs for any local garden

Other ideas include a lean-to polytunnel, a permanent rotation of ’18 day compost’, and no-dig beds. Over time we hope to develop the way water flows around the garden with swales and berms, look at aquaculture (using fishes as an integral part of the system) and perhaps more ‘vertical’ structures. We cannot do everything at once – but then learning and experimenting and sharing is a big part of the idea for this garden.

The garden makes full use of recycled materials, and aims to recycle plants too – to use donations of cuttings, spare seedlings etc, and then to make cuttings and seedlings available when we have spare. We are particularly interested in local, particularly tasty or easy to maintain varieties, so if you have spares for anything you’d really recommend, please think of us!

If you are interested in being part of it – and it is a fabulous spot, very accessible to the public – the garden needs:

Volunteers – if you have gardening skills, come and share them, and if you don’t, come along and learn in the doing. Volunteers prepared to take on regular tasks such as looking after new plants and weeding, volunteers who love to work together on new beds, or anyone who wants to take on responsibility for an area – please get in touch.

Donations of spare plants, cuttings, seedlings: at the moment we are seeking –

  • Cuttings of fruit bushes – gooseberry, currant, raspberry family
  • Cuttings of species rosa – anyone got any dog rose they don’t need in their garden? We’re looking for species which as well as being spikey produce great hips and are attractive to insects.
  • Cuttings of any other spikey but useful bushes – for example berberis, pyracantha, or good blackberry varieties
  • Any offshoots or tubers of perennial (or effectively perennial) vegetables, such as artichoke, cardoon, perennial onions, asparagus, good king henry, Jerusalem artichokes. Anyone got any horseradish surplus to requirement? (which probably means anyone who’s ever planted it….)
  • Spare seedlings for annual vegetables: we don’t need many of any one kind, but a good range would be brilliant for showing what works where in more mixed beds with permanent planting, as well as in containers
  • Spare seeds… even a few of a kind would be perfect, especially if you know they are great tasting and reliable varieties

Ideas and suggestions: ideas from your experience on what to plant and how to use plants together to make the very best use of our local conditions – please let us know!

Ruth, for Action 21 and the East Lodge Sustainability Centre Working Group

Contact me on or phone Action 21 on 01926 339077 and leave a message at any time