Monthly Archives: February 2012


Keeping urban hens


Nikki Lewis, 26, keeps urban hens in the garden of her Bromley home.  She kindly took some time out to answer our questions on looking after urban hens in London.

How long have you been keeping hens for?
We got Lola last summer, then got another called Charlie who unfortunately died so we got the other three soon after that.


Are the Olympics hurting your gardens?

data olympics complaints

 These words were taken from complaints made by east London resident infuriated by the Olympics construction. Click

How are the Olympics affecting your gardening? We want to hear from people worried about the impact of the games. Get in touch:

By Hannah Bass.

Treat your Valentine with home grown roses

Rose soleil bourgeons

For all you romantics, here is a dig-and-pot guide on how to treat your Valentine to home grown roses to keep them sweet all year round.

So, instead of buying your beau a bouquet of stems that will only last a week, why not get in their garden tomorrow and plant them a rose garden that will last indefinitely.

And in true East End Gardener style, we’ll also tell you how to grow roses in those concrete backyards many of you may have. If you don’t have the luxury of soil flowerbeds, as most of us urban gardeners don’t, fear not – most roses can be grown successfully in containers.

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Gardeners, have you tried Pinterest?

Any gardeners heard of Pinterest? I’m obsessed. It’s a great little image-sharing community that’s a cross between Twitter and Tumblr – members ‘pin’ their favourite pictures onto a virtual pinboard to share with others. It’s a neat way to organise your photos for gardening inspiration (or as we put, greenspiration).

Here are some of my favourite Pinterest photos – click on the pics for their Pinterest source.

And don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest!


Get gardening to save the bees

bee in garden

Bees are an essential part of the food chain, pollinating 90% of the world’s commercial foodstuffs, including most fruit, vegetables and nuts. Coffee and cotton are also dependent on pollination by bees.

But there has been a sharp, and alarming, decline in the number of bees over the past few decades. The number of bees in the country has fallen by 70% and three out of the 25 current species of UK bee are completely extinct, according to figures by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in the UK. Scientists blame this on various factors, which include disease, the expansion of cities and the use of pesticides and a lack of genetic diversity in bee populations.

If this trend continues, it will have a serious effect on both the UK economy and on the provision of food. With the world’s population growing day by day it’s important that we do all we can to reverse this before it becomes too late and most products disappear from the supermarket shelves.

Wildflower expert and Telegraph columnist Sarah Raven has launched a three-part television series,  Bees, Butterflies and Blooms. She is on a mission to get Britain planting wildflowers and insect-friendly plants. We’ve helpfully included a list below, taken from Bumblebee Conservation.

The Telegraph has also published a slideshow of tips on what you can do to maximize bee activity in your gardens.

This campaign is really important and East End Gardener are proud to support it!

Bees, Butterflies and Blooms is on BBC2 at 8pm on Wednesdays. You can catch up on BBC iPlayer here.

Follow Sarah Raven on Twitter @srkitchengarden.

By Natasha Wynarczyk. Photo by mf31 under a CC licence. Bee-friendly plants list from

PLANT PLANTS: an urban gardening manifesto

This cheeky graffiti brightens my walks to and from university. This morning, as my garden lay neglected under a layer of frost, it felt like a call to arms.

So here is the East End Gardener’s urban gardening manifesto…

Anyone can be an urban gardener

You don’t need to be a horticulturalist with acres of land and shelves full of plant encyclopaedias. Thanks to the internet, and wonderful blogs like ours, anyone can learn how to look after plants.

Everyone has the right to a green space

We want allotments, community gardens, parks, green rooftops and urban farms for all. Seek them out, fight for more and use the ones you have.

There’s no space too small

The Pothole Gardener proves that even the tiniest crack in the concrete can be home to nature. Think creatively and make the most of your balconies, window sills and rooftops.

Eat home grown

It’s good for you and good for the environment. Try eating something home grown every day, whether it’s spuds from a community allotment or basil clipped from our windowsill herb box.

And above all, PLANT PLANTS!

By Hannah Bass

At Columbia road flower market

Columbia Road Market_7582

“Three bunches for a tenner, come on darling, spring has come. Tulips three for a tenner,” sings a cockney holding out the custard yellow, red-veined flowers.

Climbers and ferns march down Columbia Road, East London’s Sunday flower market, carried by families and Shoreditch’s youth, and every so often a potted evergreen brushes against a face. Boxes of bulbs are lined up in rows waiting to be sold, with names like Dutch Iris, Peasant’s Eyes, Sir Winston Churchill and Lilac Wonder.

The smell of almond croissants and ground coffee from surrounding cafes, with the occasional hint of cigarette smoke, overpowers the scent of roses and chrysanthemums, while from the herb stall sage, mint, rosemary and oregano spice fragrant the cold January air. The trader has every type of thyme on offer, orange thyme, creeping red thyme, lemon thyme, Peter Davis thyme. “Yes, I make my own thyme,” he grins.

Burnt orange and lilac Birds of Paradise stand out among the many daffs and carnations filling the flower buckets. “Come on you greedy lot, wholesale price, two bunches for a fiver, two for a bluey,” a parrot-like voice shouts. Bicycle bells and motorcycle engines rev on nearby streets, and the faint sound of music from a group of Victorian themed buskers who are playing the harmonica, banjo and keyboard as they sing in a thick Essex dialect.

The crowd at the market speak in different tongues – French, Italian, Spanish and Chinese can be heard, a mix of cultural soil at the Sunday market. Traders list their encyclopaedic horticultural knowledge, “What are you looking for miss, Dendrobiums? Rhododendrons, Araucaria or Lupins? I have everything you need here.” Here are lilies ready to burst, there snake plants with waxy leaves that stand rigid, there furry Christmas cactus, cotton-bud pussy willow and sticks of chilli plants.

The market traders shout out the day’s football results to each other while wrapping the bunches in brown paper, and the sound of pulling sellotape and cashing change adds music to every sale made. East End trendies in fur jackets and flat caps poise their SLRs at stands spilling with Hollyhocks, bunches of lavender, hyacinths and amaryllis lying in boxes with stems four inches wide.

The air is bitter and still, with grey clouds covering the tops of the pitched market tents. Spilled soil colours the concrete road with dismembered twigs and leaves scattered on the ground. Metal stands wheeling across the emptying road clatter as unsold flowers make their way back to the vans. “The last of the tulips,” shouts a young, bright-eyed trader. “Yes, no? My last tulips for you.”

By Krystena Petrakas. Photo by kiwi vic under a CC licence