Another bright sunny day at the Wilton Estate for our second workshop there – Growing in the British Climate. As the adults gathered (with tea and lovely cake made by Debbie Mitchener) a group of children playing hopscotch got interested in what we were doing and joined in. All under 10, they got stuck in to our activities, reading seed packets, writing growing instructions down, thinking about how much sun different crops need and then sowing seeds and transplanting rocket and beans. We were so pleased to be able to encourage them and, hopefully, inspire them to get growing in the future. This is what it’s all about.
The indefatigable Mrs Susie Wareham took possession of the garden with a group of teenagers from Threads, a local project aimed at getting teenage girls at risk of involvement in gangs into fashion. Susie provided a stimulating and absorbing workshop using the king of dyes – woad. The girls had previously made bags and tops which they twisted and tied and submersed into the vat. They used string, thread, wood, elastic bands and even a slinky to create patterns.
A handful of local kids have discovered the garden. I’d heard their screeches and yelps before as they are unseen neighbours of mine. They come to the garden, balancing on the on the boundary wall, or accompanied by a couple of sawn off dogs – you know the ones; nondescript mongrels with legs too short for their bodies. Or they come on silver scooters. However they arrive, they are full of energy and excitement, wanting to taste, touch and see every corner of the garden – especially the pond where they are delighted by the frogs and spawn. Today two kids turned up with scooters and one dog and inaugurated the self-proclaimed Garden Froggies Club and sowed sweet peas, stock, nigella, Californian poppies and other summer lovelies. Fingers crossed the Froggies have green fingers.
It was a sparkling – and busy – weekend. On Saturday Nat, Charlotte and Kate ran a natural dye workshop at the Wilton Estate. We were joined by residents and some students from the University of the Arts (Camberwell, St Martins and LCF) who all wanted to learn about using plants and everyday grocery items for dyeing. We did two techniques: resist/immersion dyeing using two ‘baths’ – turmeric and a mixture of madder tops and onion skins and bundling using flowers, leaves and onion skins.
On Sunday, Jan opened the hive for the first time after the winter and found the bees doing pretty well – the queen is laying and the workers are collecting pollen. There is honey in there!