The East London Garden Society

The Voice ‐ April 2017

Comment by Geoff

It is always a struggle when dealing with the people who are custodians of our environment. In my view the best people to understand are the gardeners themselves. Recently I emailed The Mayor of Tower Hamlets to ascertain why the Borough cared less than most other Boroughs in London about how they treat their green spaces and come bottom of the list in East London.

Denial is usually the answer or it is blamed on other funding requirements. The reply from the Council can be seen at Letter to Mayor John Biggs & Reply. The picture with this Comment is a ‘flower bed’ on Old Bethnal Green Road ‐ note the lack of flowers!

Calla Lilly

One of the most spectacular plants in the world, looking wonderful in its sculptural beauty, is The Calla Lilly. Originally from the countries of Southern Africa, landing in this country in the 17th Century. This beautiful plant, available in a multitude of colours, grows from rhizomes and is ideal for use in beds and borders. You can also grow Calla Lilies in containers outdoors or as houseplants and don't generally require too much attention.

Proper planting and location are about the only important things to consider when growing Calla Lilies. They should be planted in loose, well‐drained soil and prefer to be in full sun or partial shade in warmer climates. They are typically planted in the spring but wait until the threat of frost has passed and the soil has warmed before planting. They should be planted about four inches deep and spaced a foot apart for best results. Once planted, the area should be watered well. They enjoy being kept moist and will also benefit from a monthly dose of fertilizer throughout the growing season.

Keep them watered and fertilized during the growing season and leave them dormant once flowering has ceased so during this time refrain from watering to allow the plant to die back. If you grow them in containers, cease watering and move the plant to a dark area once the foliage has faded. Regular watering can resume within two to three months. Although they can remain in the ground year‐round in warmer climates, in cooler areas they should be lifted and stored. Dig up the rhizomes in autumn, after the first frost, and shake off any soil. Allow them to dry out for a few days before storing the rhizomes for winter. Calla Lilies can also be divided when lifted or during their dormancy period.
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Growing Turmeric in London

Yes, you can grow turmeric in London. Back to top

Chamomile Lawn

One of the best ways to assist nature, and have a wonderful lawn, is to plant a chamomile lawn. If you have areas with light foot traffic or places that are difficult to maintain, then this could be a suitable alternative. Chamomile lawns can only handle light traffic when compared to a traditional grass lawn, otherwise they become patchy, and walking on it will compress it. Reaching a height of less than 10cm it will attract wildlife such as bees and butterflies.

Chamomile grows best in a sunny spot and can handle some dappled shade. An evenly moist but free draining sandy loam soil is best, with a neutral to slightly acidic pH. A clay soil would need sharp sand or grit to be added and some organic matter. The most important factors are sufficient drainage and aeration in the soil. Too much fertiliser can make the shoots too long, and too little can stunt growth.

Before starting to plant, thoroughly cleanse the soil from weeds to prevent them from becoming problematic in the future. Unlike a normal grass lawn, it’s more labour intensive, as there is no turf to lay. Instead, chamomile plants must be purchased and planted. It is best to pot these into 9cm pots in the spring and grow until the foliage reaches the outer rim of the pot, normally about eight to twelve weeks from potting.

Spacing in the ground at 10cm apart or 100 plants per square metre, will give a reasonable covering. Closer spacing results in cover more rapidly. It is important not to walk on the lawn for at least three months after planting. Traffic should remain light for at least the first year to give it the best chance of full, even coverage.

So, when thinking of a colourful lawn, plant a chamomile one with all the other benefits that chamomile can bring.
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Botanical Drawing Workshop

Victoria Park Friends Group and Chisenhale Art Place invite you to a Botanical Drawing Workshop on Sunday 2 April 2017 from 11am to 2pm at Victoria Park's Outdoor classroom near St Agnes Gate, Gore Road.

This is a free event and no need to book. For further information contact 020 7364 7968 or email Back to top

Cooking in a Different Way ‐ Chamomile Tea


  • 2 tsp of dried chamomile flowers.
  • 2 cups of hot water.
  • 2 tsp of raw honey (optional).

Method: Mix the chamomile flowers in hot water and let them infuse for two to three minutes. Strain and serve. Add honey to flavour it (optional).
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