On Sunday, 1st of March The Lindley Hall at the Royal Horticultural Society was buzzing with creativity. Cordwainers Grow was one of the busiest stalls of the day as numerous adults and children came by to dye a silk pocket square using dried flowers and onion skins! Each flower created a different colour, which led to a lot of experimentation around the table. Hollyhock tinted a purplish blue, coreopsis tinted an orange, madder created red while onion skins created a yellow. Whilst people would wait for the dye to submerge in the cloth, they had the chance to see the impressive garment created by the technicians at London College of Fashion using linen grown from the flax plant. The garment was a part of Cordwainers Grow’s growing project last year where flax was grown in plots around the city of London. This year the project is to produce flax string. Thus a pack of seeds for a metre square plot was available to buy for £5 as well. The anticipation while waiting for the dyed silk pocket square was well worth it as everyone was continually delighted by the results. Everyone’s silk pocket square was incredibly unique. It was definitely a merry day at the RHS for everyone!
We’re getting ready for the RHS’s Secret Sunday on 1st March. They’ve asked us to display our London-grown garment. It will be its first public appearance since it was made. It’s actually being reknitted at the moment so we hope it will have sleeves! We’ll be giving a talk about the project at 10.45 so come and see (and even touch) it and ask us how we did it.
Throughout the day we’ll be running a drop-in dye workshop and we’ll be talking about our new project – to grow community string.
We’re getting quite good at our open days and sales but this weekend’s Country Show took us to a new level. We squeezed every ounce of goodwill from the gardeners to produce rain cover (the forecast was bad), fantastic raffle prizes, music, children’s craft and face-painting, shed decorating and amazing cakes. Not to mention the competition entries – vegetables, cakes and preserves and our more creative category which included a self-portrait with vegetables and the vegetable most like a mayor. Our three judges, Scarlett Cannon, Eloise Dey and Gavin Jenkins took their task very seriously and assiduously. The icing on the cake (though I doubt he’d like to be described as any kind of cake decoration) was Joe Swift who was generous with his time, gracious, charming… and, of course, down-to-earth.
Once again we were lucky with the weather and once again Jane and Dellores on the cake stall triumphed in selling a luscious variety of baked temptations – beetroot brownies, courgette and parmesan muffins, chocolate and mint cake, apple cake, spinach tart and more delights than you can shake a pea stick at. They flew off the table, earning us £100!
Liz set up her rust-dyeing – and general natural dye guru – stall and gave a demonstration to the Edible Gardens tour of how to dye using rusty old things – and tea.
We had a steady stream of visitors and buyers of raffle tickets for our home-grown hamper.
Jan won the raffle. It wasn’t fixed, honest.
Most exciting was that one of our frogs made an appearance for the visitors.
Last weekend Nat, Charlotte, Sue and I set up stall in the churchyard of St Giles church, alongside bee men, weavers and dyers, some goats, fancy pigeons, a donkey (which escaped twice) cows (one of which jumped over its fence and caused some panic) and chickens. It was a delighfully rural afternoon in the middle of the West End (tucked behind the Odeon Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Rd and Soho minutes away). We were entertained by Punch & Judy and their violent antics, the Crystal Palace Brass Band, singers from the church and we even had a go at bell-ringing. On top of that, we made about £50 – mostly on Anna’s courgette muffins and Nat’s beetroot brownies.