The East London Garden Society

The Voice ‐ October 2018

Comment by Geoff

Geoff Juden

It’s forever necessary to push for the local environment to be improved in East London.

We have been concerned about Glyphosate being sprayed many times a year on our parks and gardens for a long time. However, despite the evidence, Tower Hamlets Council has chosen to reject that the use of this poisonous chemical is harmful to the environment and those of us who live in it.

But, we have been able to persuade some that the scientific evidence available does show that spraying this poison on the ground is harmful and have been promised a meeting with those that count in the Borough. So, watch this space!

Sparrow Hedges

What would happen should the sparrows not be able to sing in Bethnal Green? See Sparrow Hedges for full details.

I am planning to ask the council to apply protected status to a group of hedges in Weavers Fields for the sparrows, as has been done for the ravens at The Tower of London.

If you are willing to support this application to the council in order to protect the sparrows, please contact me at Back to top

Forest Garden in London

Once more, The Bishopsgate Goodsyard is about to have new plans submitted for the development of the area. The developers are bound by contract to provide a park on top of the grade II listed arches and it is the intention that one of the park proposals should be a Forest Garden. If created, this would be the largest in Europe with a permaculture academy to help pay for the running of the park.

Essentially, a Forest Garden is an area in which all manner of fruits and vegetables are grown in a forest as done in the earliest form of agriculture. Not only will it create an iconic symbol for central London, it will assist in reducing the air pollution which is so prevalent in the area.

See The Bishopsgate Goodsyard for more details. Back to top

The Heart of a Tree

Majestic Oaks, Audubon Park, New Orleans, Louisiana

Until now, scientists thought water moved through trees by osmosis in a somewhat continuous manner. But now they’ve discovered the trunks and branches of trees contract and expand to pump water up from the roots to the leaves, like the way our heart pumps blood through our bodies.

The only difference between our pulse and a tree’s is that a tree’s is much slower, beating once every two hours or so, and instead of regulating blood pressure, the heartbeat of a tree regulates water pressure.

Measurements were taken in greenhouses at night to rule out sun and wind as factors in the trees’ movements. In several of the trees, branches moved up and down by about a centimetre or so every couple of hours.

After studying the nocturnal tree activity, the researchers came up with a theory about what the movement means. They believe the motion is an indication that trees pump water up from their roots and is a type of heartbeat.

The researchers still don’t fully understand how the pumping motion works. They suggest that perhaps the trunk gently squeezes the water, pushing it upwards through the xylem, a system of tissue in the trunk whose main job is to transport water and nutrients from roots to shoots and leaves. This new discovery is entirely different from what was originally thought because the movements happen at much shorter intervals. Back to top


Vanilla beans (Vanilla Planifolia) are long thin pods from a variety of orchid that is grown on a commercial scale in Madagascar, India, Indonesia, Puerto Rico and the West Indies. When opened, the pods are waxy and dark, filled with little brown specks and emit a sweet fragrance.

There are three types of vanilla beans: Bourbon‐Madagascar, Mexican and Tahitian.

Bourbon‐Madagascar vanilla is a thin pod with a rich and sweet flavour, the sweetest of the three. Mexican vanilla tastes smooth and rich, whilst Tahitian vanilla has the thickest and darkest coloured pod that’s aromatic but not as flavourful. Once vanilla pods are handpicked from the plant, they are dipped immediately in boiling water to stop growth, heated under the sun and wrapped to sweat at night for up to twenty days.

To develop that distinct vanilla scent and taste, pods are air‐dried and fermented for four to six months, producing the vanilla beans with which most of us are familiar.

See Vanilla for more information. Back to top

Cooking in a Different Way ‐ Pumpkin Soup

With Halloween due at the end of this month, the pumpkin comes into its own. This recipe is for eight servings.


  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 5 whole black peppercorns

Method: Heat stock, salt, pumpkin, onion, thyme, garlic, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered.

Puree the soup in small batches (1 cup at a time) using a food processor or blender.

Return to pan and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes. Stir in heavy cream. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with fresh parsley. Back to top



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