We opened the garden to families with a nature and crafts workshop. Lauran and Nancy ran card making sessions and habitat walks with families from the local area. Kids were sent to find natural objects of interesting textures to rub under paper then paint with homemade natural paints. Small pixie dens were built from twigs and of course there was hidden chocolate to be found.
The same evening John, from Forage London was kind enough to lead a free walk on the New River Path and in the Castle Garden. I say on the New River Path rather than along the New River path because, as John pointed out himself, he tries to walk but finds himself surrounded by too many interesting plants with every step.
We loitered in the nettles for an especially long time and discussed recipes and the amazing level of nutrients that nettles have. Strange that we avoid nettles and cover them in herbicide in the UK. Nettle beer, with its 2 week brewing period, was defiantly top recipe for the evening.
In early May we held our May Day Fete;
The garden was already busy with wildlife, flowers, vegetables and volunteers, all stretching out after the waterlogged winter. So we decided to add to the picture a cyclone of practitioners and punters, to celebrate around a May pole, in our gorgeous garden.
The day was a great success, thanks to members of the local community, green and environmental community and of course the Castle’s neighbours PACT community centre and London Wildlife Trust.
With a good mix of regulars, Castle climbers and new visitors to the garden (some all the way from south London) it had a true fete-like feel.
This was a day for networking between projects, re-building old ties and learning new skills. The latter: ranging from woodworking to natural dye making. Children and Adults also explored and played…or relaxed in the sun depending on which end of the scale they felt they were at.
Visitors wandered the garden with Mel’s herb walks, asked advice about growing through Jack’s and Farooq’s plant stall (cuttings from the garden), learnt about the history of our garden through Ida, Nick and myself, and were entertained by slackline workshops, kids’ activities and most importantly a climbing rope May Pole (donated by Greenpeace) which was danced beautiful to finish. The practitioners came to promote their projects, workshops or wares, and left with new volunteers, friends and of course some cob fired pizza.
Some of these same practitioners will be running a series of workshops in our garden this summer…so keep your eyes open and book your places…
Other entertainment this spring came later in the month when The Castle, PACT and London Wildlife Trust collaborated again for the annual New River Clear;
Beginning at The Castle Garden with a cup of tea and some donated cakes from PACT, we headed off under the efficient eyes of a team of trained river clearing volunteers, armed with bags and nets and a crazy pup called Freya.
We cleared rubbish along the New River Path up past the PACT community centre to the East Reservoir LWT site. The aim was to bring ownership and responsibility for the local environment back to the local community, and inspire others to follow our lead.
By the end of the day we had a giant heap of rubbish; traffic cones, wheels, a truck load of recycling (lots of beer cans) and a host of flat footballs. We also managed to recover a football for a rather distraught but unenthusiastic owner, whose desire for the return of his ball fought with his repulsion to water, dirt and defiantly litter pickers. 40 minutes of patiently letting the small current goad us from bank to bank, we had one less bit of rubbish in the water and a happy child. Win-win.
Francisco, at the helm of the LWT dingy, cleared around nesting birds (on floating wheelie bins) and his team heaved some of the mass of scrap wallowing in the muddy bottom on to the path. Like ants the volunteers collected and cleared, and then we all celebrated in the balmy afternoon sun at the East Reservoir. Perfect haven after a hard day! There may be another river clear in September so come along!
What a great spring, now let’s look to the abundance of summer…