Guest blog by Hansika Jethnani

Guest blog by Hansika Jethnani

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!

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Secret Sunday

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.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-london-shows/secret-sundays

Close-up of the London-grown garment showing the variations in the thread - reflecting the variations of its makers.
Close-up of the London-grown garment showing the variations in the thread – reflecting the variations of its makers.

Golden Turnips and Grey Skies

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.

Squash carved with self portrait
Freya’s magnificent self-portrait carved into a squash.
The 'Tyre' family girls reading out the raffle prizes.
The ‘Tyre’ family girls reading out the raffle prizes.
Golden beetroot with rosette
Dellores’s golden beetroot won a golden turnip for best in category.
Large cabbages
Cabbages. This magnificent display came from one allotment (organic) in Tower Hamlets – Winterton House.

three judges
Judges (Eloise Dey, Scarlett Cannon and Gavin Jenkins) being judicious.
Face-painting by Charlotte and children's crafts with Katie.  Kept 'em busy.
Face-painting by Charlotte and children’s crafts with Katie. Kept ’em busy.
Joe Swift and scissors.
Joe Swift opens our shed!
Jams and Preserves
Jams and Preserves
Joe Swift gives a golden turnip to the Wilton Estate.  They won SIX rosettes.
Joe Swift gives a golden turnip to the Wilton Estate. They won SIX rosettes.
Jane and Dell, the magnificent cake women.
Jane and Dell, the marvellous cake women.
Table with tomatoes, cucumbers and other produce
Competition table for grown produce.
Zinnias and dye label.
Nat’s beautiful labels explain what we’re up to.
Damian receives a replica shed (made by Jonathan Faiers) to thank him for all his works.
Damian receives a replica shed (made by Jonathan Faiers) to thank him for all his works.

Three plaster turnips sprayed gold.
The golden turnips presented to the best entry in each category. Hackney was renowned for its turnips in the 17th and 18th centuries.