Sunday, 5 June 2011

Questions for Gardeners Question Time and Hackney

De Beauvoir Gardeners will be hosting the BBC's GQT (that's Gardener's Question Time) in the crypt of St Peter's Church in De Beauvoir Square with tickets selling for £2 for people who aren't members of De Beauvoir Gardeners.

I read about it in the Gazette and it's on 7th June hopefully tickets are still for sale - although I couldn't find it on the BBC's website (that doesn't mean its not there) or on the St Peter's website for the crypt.

I can't go even if there are tickets. But if anyone's looking for questions...

Firstly, are gnomes ok? I used to fear them but not enough to remove my predecessor's collection, now a lost village of gnomes usually hidden in my back garden.

But is there a Hackney angle to the garden debate? The politics of gardening presents some ideas. This essay contained lots interesting ideas and was based on Hackney City Farm. Among the many points it made was that Hackney doesn't have enough allotments: 'While there are over 30,000 active allotment holders in London, (Garnett 2005) there are only 124 remaining allotment plots in Hackney (Hackney Council, 2008), home to some 212,200 people (Ibid., 2010)– nowhere near 4 acres per 1000 people.'

And: 'These socio‐political histories had the effect of restricting garden use and urban land cultivation to wealthier classes by limiting access to a large part of London’s green space to those with private transportation, private gardens, or access to government licensed allotments.'

Otherwise there's less cerebral problems like the Hackney blogger Glamorous Gardener's occasional run-ins with the authorities (The older problem with passion flowers and dead rosemary and the more recent camomile lawn and clematis trampling incident.)

Or last year when the Council wouldn't let gardeners do voluntary work in Hackney parks and public areas unless they paid £1000. This might have changed - apparently Jules Pipe was onto the legal department about it - and there seems to be a full schedule of stuff going on in Hackney parks ranging from consultations over BBQs in London fields and dodgy dogs to actual plant care lessons.

So, what questions?

I was hoping to find something useful about gardening in Hackney as opposed to anywhere else. It hasn't really happened.

Although it would be helpful if they know of any fox-repelling plants.

Otherwise, can a gardener give anything away about their politics (or anything else for that matter) in their garden or gardening style? These looked they might be interesting, both (1 and 2) from the USA about gardening and what it's about and this, but nothing that interesting.


  1. Hackney Council could do with training up some gardeners and then hiring them. The incompetent idiots they sent to 'prune' the rose bushes around here a couple of years back cut them back so far that several have died, and the rest are barely struggling back into bloom this year after spending last year looking like a handful of twigs stuck in the ground. I assume it's cheaper to decimate the bushes once every few years than it would be to prune them properly every year, but they're one of the few attractive touches on this estate, killing them seems a little foolish.

  2. Denny, hi there, hope you didn't read the first edition of this! Looks like you're not alone though with your council problems. I'm in a council block here and they actually seem to do some good things every now and again but its more in the scattered nappy removal department than anything green fingered. May be the council needs to get someone in who likes plants (something I saw that impressed me was a kind of sea-side garden outside pentonville prison, it was a bit odd but a lot better than it used to be - that kind of thing could cheer up bits of hackney too.)

  3. So did I! Hopefully I can find it somewhere

  4. Its not just Hackney, it seems like everywhere councils have cut back on gardeners and the little nicities that make communities a good place to be. I've been looking at cornwall houses for sale for my mother, and some areas down there are lacking in terms of upkeep, there are flowerbeds in towns that are full of weeds and unkept hanging baskets trailing brambles!

    Maybe we need to make a residents committee and get this sorted? The councils are so squeezed for cash that if we want something done then we may well have to do it ourselves!

  5. Hi Kate, sorry it's been so long getting back to you. Yes may be something could be done but I imagine it'd take a lot of energy. Where would you start?