Monday, 15 November 2010

Another win for the meadow!

Hot on the heels of the London in Bloom post comes another great success for the meadow - we won TFL's Life Between the Lines competition!

To help celebrate the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity, TFL set up the project with the RSPB to promote biodiverse spaces within a five minute walk of a London tube station *ahem, or Overground station, ahem*.

Our spectacular meadow (with it's healthy population of bumblebees) ticked all of their boxes, so they awarded us first place!

Better still, there are prizes to go with the award. Specific details about what those will be are on the way, but the main one is a one-day masterclass with an RSPB biodiversity expert. Which is a fantastic thing to win.

RSPB usually charge £100 a head for these courses, and Sue from Friends of Homerton Station can testify that they're amazing - and incredibly helpful. So if you'd like to come along to our free one, just leave a comment or email More info will be posted on here soon...

Sunday, 14 November 2010

We are the champions!

When London In Bloom came to Hackney this year, they absolutely loved it!

In fact, the judges were so impressed that they awarded the meadow third place in the Community Garden category. London in Bloom is a pretty tough competition, and we were up against 24 other incredible green spaces, so to get third place (especially in our first year) is a tremendous achievement. Congratulations Mabley Green-ites! We earned it!

Also, if you'd like to do a bit of exploring around our great city, check out the inspiring spaces that scooped first and second place - they're amazing!

ps - for everyone who gets the meadow emails, this is old news. I only just got the certificate, so wanted to hold off until I could take a pic of it. Sadly, as far as certificates go, it's a big crap.
pps - I only just realised the irony of holding a London in Bloom certificate in front of an autumnal meadow. Oops! So try to imagine a blooming meadow in the background instead. Or better still, photoshop one in, email it to me, and I'll replace the pic.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Mabley Green's bulb-planting machines

Our volunteering day on Saturday was AMAZING, thanks to the incredible efforts of everyone who came down. Aside from the epic weeding session at the start of the day, the really big achievement was our incredible bulb-planting marathon.

In total, we planted an astonishing 1600 bulbs across the meadow (details of what we planted, and where, will be on here soon). We planted lots of different varieties, so they earliest bloomers should start to show up in February. Then the flowery baton will be picked up by the next set of bulbs, until the meadow flowers take over in June. So if we get lucky with the weather, we'll have blooms all the way from February to October!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Volunteering day - Saturday November 6

Now the meadow has finished blooming and seeding for the year, it's time to whip it back into shape and prepare the ground for an even bigger and better display next summer!

So, come to the meadow from 11am-4pm on Saturday November 6 and get stuck in. On the day, we'll be:

- Sowing a new batch of wildflower seeds
- Planting daffodil, bluebell and crocus bulbs
- Creating a beetle loggery using waste logs from the London 2012 site
- Putting our protective fences back up
- Having a chat and giving each other pats on the back for doing a good deed.

Feel free to stay as long or as short as you like, and do as much or as little as you please. Just make sure you wear sturdy shoes, and if you have them, bring along a garden fork or spade and a pair of work gloves.

If you've not been to the meadow before, we'll be meeting on Lee Conservancy Rd (E9) - just past the underpass, near the corner of Eastway. Or, to keep things simple, where the red X is on the map.

See you then!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Make walnuts, not war.

Our tree-planting with Pedro Reyes on the 18th was amazing! The Hackney Tree Gang generously donated three hours out of their busy morning to get stuck in and keep an eagle eye on our planting technique. And everyone (including Pedro) helped dig the hole and get our new, 10-foot walnut tree safely planted.
Photo courtesy of Gareth Wilson.
Photo © Mark Blower
Pedro and his Palas Por Pistolas project are both totally inspiring, and it's an honour to have a tree planted in Mabley Green as part of it. AND, he brought one of the spades he made from melted-down guns with him all the way from Mexico, which he's generously donated to us.
Photo © Mark Blower
It's a beautiful object - if you'd like to see it (and even put it to good use on the meadow), come along to our next volunteering day on Saturday November 6th!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Tree planting with The Serpentine Gallery + Pedro Reyes - Friday 15 October

As part of next weekend's Map Marathon, the Serpentine Gallery have invited inspiring Mexican artist Pedro Reyes to London to plant a tree as part of his incredible Palas Por Pistolas project. Pedro saw our meadow online and loved it. So he's chosen Mabley Green as his planting spot!

Palas Por Pistolas is an ongoing project Pedro started in Culiacán, a city in western Mexico with an extraordinarily high rate of gunshot deaths. So to help combat this violence, he held a gun amnesty to encourage local people to hand in their firearms. In total, he collected 1527 weapons (40% of which turned out to be high-powered automatic weapons exclusively for military use), which he melted down and turned into shovels. Now he's using them to plant 1527 trees across the world, and showing all the locations with a Google Map. AND the first and only tree to be planted for the project will be in our very own Mabley Green!

Because we like to keep things local, The Hackney Community Tree Nursery have kindly agreed to give us one of their young saplings - a walnut tree, grown right here in Hackney. So as well as linking our park to a fantastic global artwork, in a few years our new tree will give us a delicious walnut harvest too.

Come help us plant this historic tree!
Pedro and a curator from The Serpentine will be at Mabley Green from 10am on Friday 15 October. So if you'd like to come meet the artist and take part in the planting, come along! We won't be in the meadow itself, but in the main part of Mabley Green - between the overpass and the boulder (see the map below).

Also, our new tree will require special attention until it's properly established - so we'll need lots of people to help out by watering it. If you'd like to get involved, just email and we'll work out a roster (afterall, we don't want to drown it with kindness!).

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Engine gets stuck in.

The nice folk at Engine love our meadow - and we love them right back! Over summer, they turned their offices into a woodland plant nursery for us. Then last week, they came all the way out to Mabley Green to muck in and lend us their green fingers for a day.

We started out by planting seedlings that were raised by the Lea Bank Square gardeners as part of our growing scheme - a long row of Hemp Agrimony for the butterflies and some Foxgloves for the bees.

Then we got digging and made a beetle loggery from tree branches that Hackney Council had kindly collected for us. After lying in the undergrowth for a couple of weeks, the logs were already full of creepy crawlies, so we should have beetles in no time!

Thanks again Engine. You rock!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Roll on spring

The Hackney Wicked Festival has been really gathering steam over the last few years, and the the 2010 festival was the best one yet. Partly because it was much bigger than before, but also because this year, they kindly gave us a stack of Growing Concerns vouchers to buy a huge pile of spring bulbs.

We got two enormous bags of daffodils and two big boxes of purple crocuses, then headed back to the meadow where lots of lovely local people got stuck in and we got them in the ground. We planted hundreds of them! But we saved some too, which we'll when we sow our next batch of wildflower seeds. That way, we'll have beautiful bulbs in spring then as they die back, our spectacular meadow take over for the summer.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Bulb planting day

The Hackney Wicked Festival is going to great fun. And we'll be joining in by holding a bulb planting day on Saturday 18th September from 12-5pm.

Planting bulbs will mean that as well as having meadow flowers in summer, we'll have daffodils, bluebells and crocuses blooming in spring too. Which will be a welcome sight after the winter, and will give our bees a good had start.

So if you'd like help add a sea of spring flowers to the meadow, come on down! We'll provide the bulbs and digging tools - but if you have a trowel, hand fork or bulb dibber, bring it along!

Friday, 20 August 2010

What do you see?

One of the big reasons we don't have more urban meadows is that they're not 'beautiful' 365 days a year. At the end of summer they go to seed, so they start to look like this.

It's this 'ugliness' that stops many local councils from planting meadows at all. Or they cut them down before they can spread their seeds to grow again the next year. But that's a question of perception. Do you see an unsightly eyesore here? Or do you see a new beginning, and the start of next spring's flowers?

OK, those are some pretty leading statements. But we're a Community Meadow. So what do you really think? Should we cut the seed heads down to tidy the area up (then buy more seed for next year)? Or should we just let nature run its course? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

In the mean time, avert your eyes, because here are some more pics of our unsightly wildflowers!

Late bloomers

We've had an incredibly hot and dry summer this year. Which is great news for everyone who likes picnics, bike rides and eating ice-creams. But it's not such good news for our rain-loving flowers. So as the drought set in, the new plants that would ordinarily have grown up through the initial burst of blooms to replace them didn't really get going. Still, we had a couple of late arrivals - less than we'd have liked. But amazing all the same!

Let's go on a wildflower safari!

A bit late, this one. But I thought I'd post some pics of the fantastic activity packs we made up to keep the kids busy on our picnic. As it turned out, they were happy exploring and planting on their own, but these were a great addition to the day.

We had a colourful guide to all the amazing flowers and insects in the meadow (complete with tick boxes for dedicated safari-goers).

Plus a pair of 'fold it yourself' binoculars to help with the hunt!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Some picnic pics

Our picnic on Sunday was amazing! The weather was perfect, the bees were out in force - and loads of people came down to enjoy our meadow and get to know one another. Over the afternoon, the food table slowly got piled high with picnic treats but we took some hard earned breaks from stuffing ourselves to do a little bit of planting around the meadow. Sadly, the lack of rain has meant ground is a bit too hard to dig beetle habitats right now, but the logs are ready and waiting so we'll save them for another time. Thanks to everyone for coming - let's do another one soon!

Hands up who wants another community garden!

The nice folks over at Ground Work are making a community garden on the Greenway. Like all good community projects, they're keen to get local people involved from the very beginning. So they're running a couple of evening sessions at the View Tube where we can tell them exactly what we want from our new green space before they start drawing up the plans. See you there!

For more details, you can spam JohnPaul at or just take a look at the snazzy poster below.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Come to the Meadow Picnic this weekend!

Fancy a picnic in a field of wildflowers? Then come along to the Mabley Meadow Community Picnic on Sunday 18 July (that's this weekend)!

Bring some food, a picnic rug and everyone you know to the meadow from 1pm for an afternoon of fun and good old-fashioned neighourly-ness.

Where should I go?
You'll find the Mabley Green Community Meadow on Lee Conservancy Rd, just past the A12 flyover. Take a look at the map.

What's happening on the day?
Beetle habitat building - bring some good shoes, and a spade (if you have one).
Wild flower safaris for kids - when you know what to look for, it's amazing what you'll find!
Bird-box building workshop - we'll set you up with everything you need.
Wildflower planting - we have some forks and trowels, but if you have one too, bring it along.
Meadow photo competition - with a prize for the best pic.

You'll also be able to join the Mabley Green Users Group and find out about some of the other amazing volunteer projects happening in our area.

Or just laze about in the long grass all day.

See you there!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Look deeper

When you're walking past the meadow, it's easy to get distracted by the incredible blooms by the road and along the path. But if you've got a minute, take a trip to the clearing in the middle of the meadow. There are thousands more flowers to enjoy there. And hundreds of bees to watch. And plenty of long grass to lie back in while you do both. Go on, you'll love it!

Wow (again).

Honestly, if you've not been to the meadow recently, go NOW. It's beautiful!

Making a bee line

OK, that's the last bee pun we'll be seeing on this blog...I promise. But I dare anyone to visit the meadow and not get a bit mimsy about the huge numbers of bumble bees busily crawling over our incredible wildflowers. They really are an amazing sight - especially as our bee populations have been struggling recently. Go bees go!