Monday, 20 June 2016

Making The Garden Grow: The Inside Story 28

And. . .  We're Done!

We've been hard at it since our last entry, making sure the Garden was ready for our Big Lunch/Big Launch and thanks to the team who went above and beyond what was asked of them, the finished product looks gorgeous.

We'll let the photos speak for themselves and just say a humungous thank you to the team - you know who you are and we think you're amazing!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Making The Garden Grow - The Inside Story: 29

The Final Countdown?

The building team are busy bees this spring trying to get the final elements of the garden in place.

The pergola's now taking shape. It will hopefully house artwork, including a lovely mosaic by local resident and garden member, Hazel.  It will be lined by 2 raised beds and a bench made from pallets.

Planters and beds are appearing everywhere - of particular not are our 'herb crabs' made from tyres and reclaimed chair legs!  Next weekend will see our first planting day - all those fostered plants will finally be coming home so come and get your hands dirty and help them settle in.

Since the last blog post we've held our Spring Event, which was attended by over 300 people and it was fantastic to see the garden come alive with people.  It's also great to see families coming in on Saturday's to either help our or just sit and enjoy the space - exactly what we'd hoped.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Making The Garden Grow - The Inside Story: 28

Spring is Coming!

In a season where we've seen Cherry Blossom in December it's been a slow start in the Garden, but finally the bulbs planted by our volunteers and the pupils of the Quwwat-ul-Islam school are finally showing signs of life. Everything looks fantastic in the sunshine and it feels as though everything is about to burst into life.

Daffs & Muscari showing their heads
Welcome sunshine!
A thousand bulbs were planted in mid-December and we're looking forward to a great display of Daffodils, Muscari, Hyacinths and Tulips, which will add some welcome early Colour.

Despite the prolonged cold snap our building team are still hard at it and we're now adding the final touches to some of the main areas. 

The pond liner's been trimmed and fixed in place and the pond itself's been decorated with river rocks and pebbles.  We'll be planting the Water Lily and Iris donated by members as soon as we can raise some money for aquatic soil and baskets.  We're also looking for funding to complete the pond planting, including oxygenating plants to keep the water healthy for aquatic wildlife.

The bed behind the pond's been filled with a mixed later of gravel and rubble for drainage, which is sitting under 1 ton of sterilised topsoil.  Compost will be added next week ready for planting with Yukka, Foxgloves, Irises, Japanese Anemone and grasses,  A mix of pollinator friendly seeds will be sprinkled into the remaining spaces.

The final stage of construction's also underway.  The entrance pergola's been marked out ready for work to start next week - exciting!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Making The Garden Grow - The Inside Story: 27

It's All Coming Together!

Sophie & Jenny's raised bed
Bill's stage is almost finished
It's funny how everything just starts coming together all of a sudden.  Ever since the pond was lined late last year the garden's really started to take on it's final shape.

Raised beds are going up all over the garden ready for planting and we're starting to place plants ready for planting in spring.  Sophie and Jenny made an amazing bed, complete with trellis backing on Saturday, which will house the wild hop and clematis we found on site when we move in.
The new container entrance
Stepping stones and raised bed

It's difficult to do anything on the side of the garden with the missing hoarding but we've started to edge the path and created a raised bed around the Sycamore.  Once the hoarding's back up we can finish that section off and build another insect habitat.

We're also starting to plan out the final stepping stone paths at the far end of the garden between the Victorian gate, the quiet zone and the pond, which will be dug in next weekend.

A bit of extra work went on during the week and the container now has a permanent astroturf finish (complete with plastic wildflowers) to welcome everyone - a nice match for the 'grass' at the front of the stage. The March deadline's starting to look a bit more realistic now!

Monday, 25 January 2016

Making The Garden Grow - The Inside Story: 26

New Year,  New Garden

So much has been happening since the FGCG re-opened on 9th January and things are really coming together now.

Our first raised beds and seating area
The finished Quiet Zone and Pond
Our amazing team of volunteers have finished the Kids Area and the Quiet Zone (apart from a final few touches to the book shed).  We're also finishing off the pond area paving so that we can start filling and decorating the pond. Paths are being laid to connect the various parts of the garden and the entertainment space is now a roofed stage with deck board flooring.
The finished Kids Area and fallen hoarding

View from the Stage out into the garden
Seating and raised beds are starting to appear and all the lovely pots of bulbs planted in December are being dotted around garden and bring some welcome Spring colour and to decorate the seating areas. It's looking great as you can see from the photos.

Still a bit to do before Spring so if you're free on Saturday morning come along and take a look/help out!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

New Year - New Job?

We are appointing our first garden co-ordinator!
This is an exciting opportunity for the right person to build on the good start we have made over the first 6 months.
We are looking for someone to organise the practical work in  the Garden for 8 hours a week over the next two years.
Could it be you? Or someone you know?
For the full Job Description and Person Specification email 
The closing date for applications (on-line only) is January 15th and interviews for short-listed candidates will be held on January 27th 2016

Monday, 14 December 2015

Making The Garden Grow - The Inside Story: 25

2015 - A Good Year!

Saturday was our last official work session for 2015 and what a great one it was too!  

The pond ready for lining
The quiet zone - comfy!
Our new willow arch bike parking

The quiet zone really took shape and we were able to finally put in the seating and planter, which makes it look really cosy and inviting.  Only the shed to finish now.

The pond's ready for in-filling with topsoil and carpet first thing next year and should be fully lined and ready to go by the end of Jan - ready for all that winter rain.  

Our new bike parking area's complete.  We've planted some willow saplings in the hope that we can weave an arch over the bikes for cover and protection. It should also look gorgeous. 

The entertainment shelter takes shape

Work on the entertainment shelter started in ernest and the framework is now complete.  Pallet flooring, water harvester ceiling and bannister rails to be added in the New Year.

The kid's zone, recently our bulb planting area, has now been tidied and a makeshift weed membrane laid down over the section marked for grass seed next spring,  Hopefully this will mean a quick hoe over before seeding instead of a major dig.

The kids zone waiting for grass

The kid's zone from the main gates
A great big thank you to everyone who came along to work, deliver cake, give advice or shared a few words of encouragement - we really appreciate it all!

See you all in the New Year - enjoy!

Making the Garden Grow - The Inside Story: 24

Garden Hero 11 - Kevin Harris

Kevin lives on Sprowston Road and is the man responsible for the amazing film of our hoarding artwork in progress.

He's also turned out to be a dab-hand at paving and started working on pathways in the kid's zone with Jo, Mike and May and is now working with Peter paving the area around the pond to make it wheelchair accessible.

Kevin's attention to detail and desire to get it just right is bordering on the fanatical - just the way we like it!  Not only does he turn up for most of our Saturday sessions but he's been known to pop in during the week too.  Star!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Making The Garden Grow - The Inside Story: 25

Gates A Go-Go!

Belated but special thanks go to Keiran, Dara and Bill  who spent a good few hours fixing the entrance gates on Earlham Grove a few weeks ago.

The gates had never shut properly and the job wasn't quite as straightforward as it looked - the gates are very heavy and only had a wobbly post to hang on to. 

The guys reinforced the post and put a wheel on the bottom of the right-hand gate to take the strain off of the post.  The  left-hand gate also has a new drop bolt to replace the one stolen during the break-in in the summer, which holds it nice and still.    

The higher left gate means that you no longer have to use a length of metal as a wedge to raise it to line up the padlocks.  I for one won't miss trying to raise the gate with one hand (and foot) whilst bashing at the hasps with a hammer to get them closed!  

Making the Garden Grow - The Inside Story: 24

Inside Out

As you're probably aware the hoarding blew down during the heavy winds and rain Sunday night just over a week ago.

Member and regular building volunteer, Kevin, who lives overlooking the garden alerted Myanah and a group of us gathered to see what could be done.  Much excitement ensued with the Fire Brigade in attendance and the police notified.  Everyone was waiting for an emergency team to come and make the area safe, which was done at around 8pm.

The wall was subsequently taken down on the Sprowston Road side as far as the old Victorian gate as it posed a risk to public safety.  The hoarding is being stored in the garden until we can put it back up - hopefully very soon and for good this time!  Meanwhile we're all grateful for everyone who's keeping an eye on the site for us - thank you.  

Building work is going on as usual and next Saturday (12 Dec) will be our last official day of 2015.  However, some of us might be popping in and out to do odd jobs between now and opening again next year (9 Jan) when we'll start constructing raised beds and seating.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Making The Garden Grow - The Inside Story: 23

Garden Hero 10 - Peter Tymkow

Peter has rarely missed a week at the FGCG and has been instrumental in building our pond & accompanying raised bed -  measuring, cutting and bolting away week after week.  The pond is now known as Peter's Pond and we may even give it a name plaque!  Peter is known for his quiet determination and dry humour.  He has a background in nature conservation and has valuable experience working with other groups such as ours including the Stave Hill Ecological Park ( .  Peter was also part of the team that volunteered to help with the Groundworks delivery way back in January.

Making The Garden Grow - The Inside Story: 22

Well, That Caps It All!

Another slightly soggy building session this week, although nowhere near as wet as last week.  

Sola and his capstone
The final fencing for the kid's zone went in after much digging and pick-axe work by newcomer Sola.  As you can see there was no way a fence spike was getting through that lump of concrete (a jumbo capstone as you can see from the angled shape).  Thankfully Sola persevered and the spike Finally went into what was a rather large hole.  Just another day in the life of the FGCG and a good example of why all the planting will be in raised beds.

As you know the FGCG was originally a double-fronted Victorian villa, which was levelled and the rubble spread across the site. Over time the soil and plants took over but some of them are surviving in very shallow soil.  The Budleija forest is actually rooted on roughly 5cm of soil on top of paving stones.  Sometimes the terrain's helpful - when you discover existing paved paths for instance, but often it can make life tricky.  However, a bit of lateral thinking and/or elbow grease usually gets us where we need to be!  

Monday, 2 November 2015

Making The Garden Grow - The Inside Story: 21

Buggies a Go-Go! (October 2015)

The bike & buggy park in
the kid's zone

Another glorious day on Saturday.  The sun was bright and warm and we finished the month on a building high as well as a weather one.  We made real progress on the kid's area, which should be finished next week and the buggy and bike park's up and running thanks to Sophie and Isobel.  Mike's taken charge of completing  the kid's area, which has freed up some of the team for path planning and the quiet zone - Jo and Kevin are the king and queen of paving!  Peter continues to work his magic on the pond, which will be completed next week ready for paving.  The quiet zone boundary's going great guns thanks to two new volunteers, Keiran and Lucy, who bashed in fence posts with a sledgehammer for an hour after collecting more donated paving slabs in their van.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Making the Garden Grow - The Inside Story: 20

Garden Hero 9 - Michael Nash 

Michael is a local artist who is not only involved in the FGCG on a weekly basis, but also with the Forest Gate Arts Trail. Michael works with reclaimed material, in particular metal and a piece of his work is currently in the FGCG - we hope he’ll do more for us.  He’s been involved in all aspects of the FGCG so far and is happy to have a go at anything and everything, especially anything that involves metalwork such as repairing our chain-link fence.  Most recently he’s been contsructing the ‘living tyre wall’ in the kids zone and has a real talent for packing skips.

Making The Garden Grow - The Inside Story - 19

 Garden Hero 8 - Veronica Jeans 

Veronica has a beautiful garden at home and an extensive knowledge of plants and gardening, but she’s also a very useful member of the building team.  She’s been responsible for uncovering a lot of the original paving around the edges of the site, which has saved us all a lot of time and effort in laying new paths.  She’s also been weeding, uprooting unwanted plants with a pickaxe, drives a mean wheelbarrow and is happy to turn her hand to any task.

Making The Garden Grow - The Inside Story: 18

Chip ’N' Skip (October 2015) 

The chips
The skip

October’s turning out to be a very busy month.  We received our first load of bark chips from Keith Archer Tree Surgeons, which are steaming gently in this cold snap.  This batch will be used to provide a nice soft play surface for the kid’s area but we aim to use them over most of the site to cover the hardcore and fill in the dips and holes.

The gang

Also this month (Sat 3rd Oct) we managed to clear the large mound of debris accumulating in the centre of the site, filling our second skip! It was really good to have everyone working on the same project for a day - the tea break was particularly good as Darren Farr and his colleague from the Stratford Community Police and our lovely FGCG member, Barbara, provided cakes!

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