Gardens are all around us, however they may be defined. But, at this time of the year our gardens, yards, and flowers should be at their best.
Gardens in an urban environment need to be able to succeed more so than outside urban areas. For that we need to challenge the wisdom of some who may be against a stronger, greener urban environment.
Originally it was never the intention of The East London Garden Society to be a campaigning organisation. However, it seems to have become one in order to protect our environment.
If you value having someone campaign on your behalf to protect the environment and having access to useful articles about gardening and local environmental matters, please make a donation to help us with the cost of maintaining The East London Garden Society.
The Champs-Élysées is to have a makeover but the ambitious transformation will not happen before the French capital hosts the 2024 Summer Olympics. The planned work would turn the 1.9 km (1.2 mile) stretch of central Paris into an extraordinary garden.
The Champs-Élysées committee has been campaigning for a major redesign of the avenue and its surroundings since 2018 having decided that the avenue had lost its splendour during the last thirty years. It has been progressively abandoned by Parisians and has been hit by several protests.
The image shows the planned redevelopment. (Photograph: PCA-Stream)
The plans include reducing space for vehicles by half, turning roads into pedestrian and green areas, and creating tunnels of trees to improve air quality.
The name Champs-Élysées is French for the mythical Greek paradise, the Elysian Fields. It was originally a mixture of swamp and kitchen gardens. André Le Nôtre, Louis XIV the Sun King’s gardener, first designed the wide promenade, called the Grand Cours, with a double row of elm trees on each side.
It was renamed the Champs-Élysées in 1709 and extended. By the end of the century it had become a popular place to walk and picnic. Today it is famous for its expensive cafes, luxury shops, high-end car salesrooms, and the annual Bastille Day military parade.
Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is a hardy perennial herb native to the Mediterranean. As part of the Apiacaea family, it is closely related to carrot, celery, and parsley. The herb lovage, though unfamiliar to many people, should rank as a seasoning with sage or thyme. It can also be used in bulk as a vegetable.
Lovage has an ancient history. It was introduced into Britain by the Romans, as both a medicinal and culinary herb. Colonial women treated many ailments with lovage such as sore eyes and upset stomach. They used fresh leaves for summer sallets and flavoured winter soups with the dried root. The dried leaves seasoned the stuffing for roast goose or turkey.
Lovage tastes like celery, with undertones of parsley and hint of anise. It's mild enough to use with fish and poultry but has just enough spice to make it interesting. Lovage can make rice or bulgur, cottage cheese or potato salad taste good. Alone it can be used as a potherb with bland herbs such as comfrey, borage of Good King Henry.
Lovage grows five to six feet and spreads three to four feet and shows up well against a wall or fence. The leaves have an unusual, winged shape, and chartreuse flower clusters bloom on stems three or more feet long. These globular blooms entice insects which are beneficial to the garden.
A good companion is angelica which is even more ornamental and may rise to seven feet. Lovage and angelica belong to the Umbelliferae family, whose members bear flat flower heads or umbels along with celery, dill and parsley.
Like many herbs and flowers, lovage has been used in the past in love potions and aphrodisiacs although the word itself has nothing to do with love. The name Lovage derives in a roundabout way from the Latin names Levisticum and Ligusticum, pertaining to Liguria in Italy where the herb was indigenous. The French word is Liveche.
This culinary and medicinal herb was once a common sight in ancient and medieval kitchens and gardens where its leaves, roots, stems and seeds were used. Growing lovage usually means an ample harvest, and all parts of the plant are edible and tasty.
The leaves are treated as an herb and used to flavour soups, salads, sauces, and vegetables. The stems and roots can be boiled or sautéed as a vegetable, while the fragrant seeds are used as a spice.
Trees were one of the first organisms to bring oxygen to the earth, and they are also one of the main protectors of the earth. We therefore have to treat them with sensitivity. It is when the imbalance begins to happen that humanity starts to fear, and that is happening now.
When a tree is felled we lose sixty cubic square feet of oxygen every day. So, if as we are told, a quarter of the Amazon Rainforest has been felled, we can easily imagine what is happening in our own backyard.
Recently, The East London Garden Society presented a petition to Tower Hamlets Council for a tree felling moratorium as it was considered there was a lack of control on tree felling within borough.
The petition was rejected by the Council who replied, "We only fell dead or diseased trees". But, as most residents know, this is not the case, and the Council considers that a tree is an obstacle to progress within the borough.
It was not expected that Tower Hamlets would change its mind. The main purpose of the petition was to bring a greater awareness of the tree as a living organism, which benefits us all in our daily lives.
Trees are important and if they be felled, sufficient action should be taken to mitigate the loss to the community and the environment. It’s high time Tower Hamlets and other boroughs realised this.
We have all heard of composting and most gardeners, many of whom are very proficient at it, are aware of its value since it provides good nutrition for the garden from the unwanted plants and general garden green waste.
Leaf cover is one of the most sought after and valued foods for the garden, which is the natural way of composting.
Years ago we had the Pig Swill Man who would empty bins of food waste, take them away and feed the waste to the pigs. It was in the late 70's when this practice was stopped owing to a widespread outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
Since this time most of us are unsure as to how our food waste is disposed of, most believing that it is disposed of with general waste.
Now there is another way. We can all become gardeners wherever we live, and we can dispose of our food waste since any organic matter can now be turned into a biomass whether we live in a flat or a house.
In addition, we can work together to reduce our food waste, possibly reducing the cost. There is a national government directive that we all have to recycle as much as possible, with each local authority making such plans.
So, why not assist the local authority by turning food waste into earth.