Water, water, everyone!


Judy Noble provides an update on the work of the South Woodford Community Gardeners and their ongoing efforts to keep the planters and flower beds watered and insect-friendly

We, your community gardeners, would love you to tip the water bottles you carefully filled from your tap in the morning over the lovely boxes of plants on the platform at South Woodford Station on your way home in the evening. It’s amazing how often we’ve still got water left in the evening. The plants get very thirsty and would thrive on what you would pour away.

For most of us, these planters, already full of plants, just appeared, but they are in fact a story of real initiative. One of the gardeners, Attiya, while on holiday in Canada, spotted an offer online from an organisation called Energy Gardens to provide these boxes on any station if a local person asked. Nothing ventured, nothing won; she went ahead and was back home in time for delivery, ready to plant them up with help from her family.

The hotter summers are bringing longer dry periods, which can lead to fiercer storms and high winds. The plants and insects have to deal with this as well as us. So, we’re planting more Mediterranean plants and grasses, as well as herbs that thrive in the dry heat and attract insects, such as rosemary and thyme. Of course, we have many other plants which attract the bees and butterflies, such as foxgloves, lavender, borage, buddleia, forget-me-nots and corncockle.

Many of our traditional cottage garden plants, once their root systems are established, also do well in this weather, and insects love them. You will see the orange marigolds and geraniums just coming out. Soon, the hollyhocks will shoot their long-stemmed flowers upwards and open their buds, pair by pair, to attract and feed all manner of insects until autumn.

As you know, we’ve done a lot of work on the Regency beds (in front of Regency Court on the High Road). There you will also see many meadow plants, such as ragwort, nipplewort, goat’s beard and viper’s grass – like its name, with long pointy leaves. Wonderful country names, and wonderful for the insects, too.

Insects’ natural habitats are under threat, and of course, we, and all farmers, especially fruit farmers, need them for pollination purposes. The fruit trees recently planted on a little corner of open land at the corner of Primrose Road and Mulberry Way will also contribute to the insect life. If you walk over the viaduct and look over the balustrade opposite the station, you can spot this pretty little development. All gardens help to keep the space open for the whole community, to keep the air cleaner, and help us all breathe a little deeper. 

For more information on the South Woodford Community Gardeners, email southwoodfordgardeners@gmail.com