The Voice ‐ January 2019
Comment by Geoff
Another year is over, and we look forward to the new growing season, maybe with awe, for it is now becoming increasingly difficult to predict the weather.
This is the main reason why The East London Garden Society is challenging the authorities about having more gardens and more appropriate greenery in and around our homes.
We have all heard how gardening is beneficial for most of us and we’ve heard how calming the enjoyment of parks and trees can be. This must therefore be our challenge for the future and to keep the pressure on those in authority to provide what we need.
Wishing you a successful growing 2019.
The Largest Forest Garden in Europe
The East London Garden Society are calling on the Mayor to use his planning powers to create Europe’s biggest ‘urban forest garden’ in the centre of the capital.
In an attempt to tackle air pollution and create community space, the project would see a green walkway connecting Hackney and Tower Hamlets covering nearly two thirds of a mile with trees and shrubs. They are offering this proposal as an alternative to current plans that have been put forward by the developers, Ballymore and Hammerson who have submitted a planning application for 1,356 homes and a shopping space to the local councils.
Ballymore and Hammerson say that they have consulted the public extensively and have updated their proposals which include plans for six acres to be used for public space, connected gardens, terraces and walkways.
The Urban Jungle
Home to 8 million trees and hundreds of high‐rise towers, London is adding 40,000 trees to its skyline in a bid to turn the sprawling British metropolis into a ‘national park city’.
Campaigners for clean air welcomed the initiative, saying London lagged mainland Europe when it came to tree cover, with high costs driving vertical development over open space. “London has some great green spaces already but most of these were established in the 19th century and what is now needed is a massive effort to create new urban parks”, said Michael Batty, a professor at University College London.
The number of high‐rise buildings planned or underway in London has this year risen above 500 for the first time as a trend to build skyscrapers spreads to the suburbs. Trees in cities reduce pollution, store carbon and protect people in heat waves, saving megacities in healthcare, energy costs and environmental protection, according to research.
With one in ten people predicted to live in cities of more than 10 million by 2030, urban forests can make these spaces healthier, say experts. “Trees are this country’s lifeblood, and by planting more of them we are helping to protect our environment”, said a spokeswoman for the Forestry Commission.
Sara Lom, who runs The Tree Council charity, said only 13 percent of Britain was covered in trees, compared to an average of 37 percent in other European countries. London’s population has also swelled in recent years and the current 8.8 million is expected to rise to 10.8 million by 2041, pushing the city to grow upwards. Back to top
Flowers are more than just a pretty way to fill your garden. Apart from their aesthetic quality, they have the power to reduce stress and inspire creative thinking. You might even find yourself less anxious while admiring your garden.
Sweet Alyssum, (Lobularia maritima), also known as Sweet Alison, is indigenous to the Mediterranean region, including the Canary Islands and the Azores, growing along the coast in areas of full sun. A member of the mustard family, it is often added to salads in Spain for a vitamin C boost. Although some eat Sweet Alyssum, others may get a rash from handling it.
The name alyssum is derived from the Greek language. Since the prefix ‘a’ negates the word following it and ‘lyssa’ means rage. Alyssa means ‘without rage’. Those who named the flower may have had rabies in mind as it was used in folk medicine to treat the condition. In the language of flowers, Sweet Alyssum means ‘worth beyond beauty’ or ‘sweetness of soul’.
Alyssum was found in gardens as far back as the 1500s and prized for their low forming growth and fragrant flowers. During the 1800s, the yellow variety enjoyed popularity in the US. By the 1900s, the more fragrant white flowered variety grew in popularity and was recommended as a plant for attracting bees.
The genus alyssum contains nearly 170 species of flowering plants in the Brassicaceae family. Most are annual or perennial herbaceous plants growing up to 100 cm high with yellow or white flowers. Although Sweet Alyssum is best known for the fragrant white‐flowered type, the plant does come in a variety of other colours.
Sweet Alyssum is a delicate carpet of tiny flowers with narrow lance‐shaped leaves and flowers with tiny four‐petal, cross shapes. Although an annual plant in many hardiness zones, those who live in areas with a mild winter may find they return easily as a perennial, or even bloom through the winter. The plants easily self‐seed, being carried by the wind. If you’re planning to change varieties, the following summer you may be surprised to see several sprinkled throughout your garden.
Today, Alyssum is added to salads for flavour. However, there is a long list of traditional uses, some of which are no longer in use as the condition it was used to treat responds better to other treatments.
Alyssum does well in borders or planted along a rock or stone wall. You may also consider planting it to fill in gaps in your garden or as a living mulch. Back to top
Many people living in urban environments say “My flat is too small; how can I have a garden?”
There is always a way and most of us have an image in our mind as to what garden we would like. For some it’s a growing herb kitchen and others it may be a few plants for decoration. No matter what the circumstance, everyone can have a garden to suit the space available.
One possibility is to have an eco‐friendly fish tank. To create an underwater garden with plants such an option and any local shop selling live fish for aquariums would be happy to advise.
As with flowering plants such as lavender or rosemary, an underwater garden is a prime example of creating an environment which not only pleases, but also breathes oxygen into your living space. It must be remembered that all gardens of whatever type must be looked after to ensure longevity. So, a fish tank can also be a garden.
Cooking in a Different Way ‐ Cabbage Soup
Cabbages are a staple of vegetable aisles and farmers markets around the world. It's almost impossible to visit a store without seeing the huge pile of light green or purple cabbages, just waiting for you to choose one from their ranks.
This soup recipe has been around for a number of years, providing warmth and comfort during cold weather. Not only is it filling, but cabbage soup is bursting with a wide array of vitamins and minerals due to the nutrient-filled ingredients it uses. The cooking time is four hours and provides four servings.
- 2 to 3 free‐range chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- ¾ cup carrots, chopped
- ½ cup zucchini, peeled, deseeded and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 4 cups chicken broth
- ½ head of cabbage, chopped
Method: Coat a slow cooker with coconut oil and then add chicken. Add chopped celery, carrots, zucchini, garlic and onion. Next, add basil, oregano, salt, pepper and broth.
Cook soup on high temperature for approximately two hours and then remove bones from chicken and add chicken back to the pot. Add the chopped cabbage.
Cook soup on high temperature for an additional two hours before removing from the slow cooker. Back to top