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This month, we interviewed Cadence Kinsey who lives on the estate and is a key figure in the gardening sub-committee for The Secret Garden!

What is it that interests you about gardening?

I first became interested in gardening by growing my own food. Eating those first courgettes and tomatoes that I had grown myself, which you can easily do in pots on a balcony, got me hooked! It seemed like magic to be able to take home a big bag of broad beans from a single seed. From there, I started working in the Secret Garden and now love giving away the food we have grown to volunteers who work in the garden.

What is your favourite plant/flower?

I love plants that are useful: plants that can be grown cheaply or easily, that help wildlife, or that fill difficult gaps. Mexican Fleabane is one of my favourites – hundreds of tiny daisy-like flowers for months on end, and which just spread and spread. You can often see them growing in cracks in walls as they thrive in the most unlikely places.

What are you currently growing or planning to grow?

Currently, I’m trying to grow more hollyhocks and rose campion across the estate. They have bright, intensely colourful flowers, are easy to grow, drought tolerant, and good for pollinators – what’s not to love! Even better, you can collect and save the seed easily yourself to grow more plants. A great many of the flowers across the estate have been sown in this way.

What is the one advice you can share with others about gardening?

The best thing that I have learnt is that growing does not have to be expensive! You will be amazed at how much you can do for free – saving seed, taking cuttings, making your own compost. Just about everything we do in the Secret Garden is done at low/no cost, which has the added bonus of being best for the environment too. Come by and visit us on a Saturday morning to see what is possible!

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It’s wonderful to see the garden throughout the seasons, as the leaves fall leaving a carpet of autumn colours in the garden. It’s definitely harder to encourage yourself to get outside and garden at this time of the year but as with everything keeping on top of tasks here and there make it easier, and keep the garden looking inviting to onlookers.

The last couple of months has entailed a lot of leaf clearing from the main entranceway, and making use of our leaf mulch pile. It’s a fairly hefty job, as each week when I return to the garden the leaves have piled up again. I’m leaving some of them to rot down in the woodland area so to act as a natural nutrient for the soil, but also because the leaf mulch pile is getting too full!

We have also been cutting back brown and dying plants, particularly herbaceous perennials that die off over the winter and then come back flourishing throughout spring and summer.

The last of the tomatoes and edible vegetables have been harvested and now covered over, leaving the best to rest for the winter months, allowing the soil to gain some nutrients to help next year’s growth.

We have also been planting out some of the propagated plant material across the estate including euphorbia’s, rosemary, periwinkle’s and geraniums to help bring some colour and character to the estate beds. In addition to this, we have also been clearing some beds across the estate so that we can sow our estate seed mix. This will be an ongoing job for the next couple of months, and would be great to get some help on!

There will also be an announcement soon about workshops for the next 6 months so keep your eyes peeled on social media and the WhatsApp group!

A month in the garden

Hello all, I’m the new community gardener at The Secret Garden, Alice. I gained my level 2 in horticulture earlier this year and have been working as a freelance gardener and volunteering at Sydenham Garden and other community gardens across South East London since then. I was involved in the running of the Garden Festival in April and have now been working at The Secret Garden for a month!

I thought it would be nice to try and start writing up the activities that have been going on in the garden and potentially spotlight any workshops, volunteers and plants here for anyone to interact with and get to know the garden more intimately.

In the past month, I’ve been going to the garden once a week and inviting the community to join me in some activities. We have been cutting back some fruit canes which have now flowered, fruited and were ready to be pruned back so that they produce more fruit for next year. This was quite a large job as there were many canes, some in the herb bed, some behind the tomatoes opposite the bench and a lot creeping around in the vegetable garden.

The tomatoes have been coming in thick and fast and I’m pleased to see many of our volunteers and visitors giving them a try! With the help of volunteer Iche and her son’s Josiah and Joshua we have been weeding the vegetable beds so that the crops can grow and are not starved of their necessary nutrients by some of the more pesky weeds.

We also recently sowed some radish seeds direct into one of the vegetable beds as a small experiment to see how they grow. After visiting on Saturday some of the seedlings are coming through!

We always have plenty to do and are always looking for volunteers so please come down and help to maintain this beautiful space. Keep an eye out for opening times on our instagram or the WhatsApp group!

Hello! It’s been a long winter, but things are definitely on the up, and spring is most certainly on its way. There are lots of flowers around the estate, and – hopefully – a better turn in the weather soon to come. 

The Secret Garden team have been really busy over the last few months, paring things back, reviewing our stock, and making plans for the year ahead, and we’re really excited to be holding our first annual Garden Festival this spring, on 2-3 April. 

The two-day festival will take place across the D’Eynsford Estate and Secret Garden, and will feature a range of activity for gardeners old and small, it’s very much welcome to all, both those living on the estate, and in the wider Camberwell area. 

First signs up outside the Secret Garden

In addition to be holding our annual seed shop, we will also be planting out in teams around the estate, a big flurry of activity with the aim of getting everything ready for summer. There will be activities for children, free coffee from local roaster Old Spike, and, most importantly, plenty of bunting, so there will be a definite festival spirit in the air. 

No previous gardening experience is necessary (there will be experienced members on hand) – just friendly faces and a desire to make a difference! Gardening activity will be very visible across the estate both the Saturday and Sunday,  at the seed shop and around the site, so if you see us, come and say hello.

Feel free to roll up your sleeves and get involved! 

Keep an eye out for our posters over the coming weeks

It’s been great to hear about how people have been getting along with the small plants and seeds that were given out at our pop up seed shop in June. Houseplants have been flourishing, and tomatoes and chilli’s have been established. It has been a wonderful way to connect the Secret Garden with all the private gardens and balconies across the estate, together with the wider estate grounds. Next year we hope to run the seed shop earlier in the season so that all the plants have the best chance possible of producing a healthy harvest! Thank you to Clava and Betty for sharing the photographs below.

We are also pleased to announce the winners of the sunflower growing competition… Amy and Halima at Mary Datchelor Close! We don’t have an exact height for the sunflowers, and when the pictures were taken the flower on the second plant hadn’t quite come through but, as you can see from the photographs below, both plants are really very tall! The winners will receive a packet of bulbs to plant out this Autumn. Congratulations to Amy and Halima!

It has been a busy summer so far in the secret garden. We have started working with our new community gardener, Paul Gwilliam, and in early June we ran a Pop Up Seed Shop, giving away seeds and small plants to residents across the estate.

Tayberries ripening on the branch

The vegetable patches planted up in Spring are now starting to bear produce and we have lettuces, tomatoes, courgettes and dwarf beans nearly ready to harvest. In the flower garden, we have cut back some over-eager nasturtiums to make room for existing stock, and have let in more light around the herb bed by removing tree branches. We have also started taking cuttings of plants from within the garden to plant out around the estate.

Hopefully it won’t be long before the garden can open again for all residents to enjoy. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy these photographs and, remember, if you are interested in the secret garden or the work of the Gardening and Grounds Committee, please do be in touch!

The propagation station in the greenhouse, with cuttings from the secret garden
Some of the vegetable beds, planted with onions, lettuce, tomatoes, beans and beetroot
A beautiful jasmine, in flower
A rosette of lettuce
The tomato bed, with lettuce in the foreground and beans at the back
Tomatoes developing on the vine
The majestic olive tree in the flower garden, surrounded by euphorbia and adorned with geraniums in hanging baskets
Courgettes are doing very well!

Pop Up Seed Shop

Thank you to everyone who came out for the Gardening & Grounds Committee Pop Up Seed Shop on 6th June and made it such a success!

Despite the rain we had around a 100 visitors on the day, and gave away a total of around 50 gardening kits to those who dropped by as well as by delivery to residents who are self-isolating or in the sheltered unit. The chilli’s and cucumbers were especially popular – we can’t wait to see the results!

Paul, our estate community gardener, with volunteer ‘shopkeeper’ from the gardening and grounds committee

Hopefully everyone’s seeds are now in the ground and doing well. But if you haven’t yet taken the plunge, or need to refer back to information on how to grow the seeds, photographs of all the packets can be found below…

You may have noticed that updates from the D’Eynsford Estate Secret Garden have been quiet for a while. But at this moment in time, when we are all staying at home, it seems more important than ever to try and find a way to share the sights and sounds of the Garden with everyone.

Since the lockdown began in March, a small team have been getting seeds going on their balconies and digging over the beds in the Secret Garden, in the hope that it can soon be open again for all to enjoy. We have started off tomatoes, courgettes, French beans and parsley in the greenhouse and on sunny windowsills, while cabbage, spinach and onions are already in the ground. The herb beds have started to be cleared of overgrown brambles to allow the beautiful rosemary and sage bushes (plus a hidden gooseberry!) to flourish, and the flower garden has had a much needed tidy up after the winter. Raspberries are ripening on the branch, hops are racing up the wall in the vegetable garden, and the nasturtiums are blooming.

As the garden grows over the summer, we will be sharing regular updates with what is happening inside. In the meantime, please keep an eye on the events and activities pages – we will be doing our best to bring the garden to you, starting with a pop-up seed shop on June 6th where we will be giving away free seeds and small plants for residents to grow on their balconies. And remember, if you would like to be involved with the work of the TMO Gardening and Grounds Committee in any way, please do get in touch.

We hope you enjoy these photos, taken over the last couple of weeks, and look forward to welcoming everyone back in to the Secret Garden soon!

Beds are prepared in the vegetable garden
Rhubarb doing well!
Getting seeds started in the greenhouse
Courgettes and French Beans ready to give away at the pop-up seed shop
The flower garden
Roses in bloom
Foxgloves and Figwort
Cutting back the brambles to let in light
Weeding and mulching around the estate

Blossom on D'Eynsford

Spring is finally here, the daffodils are out in force, there’s blossom on the trees all round the estate. It can only mean one thing: The Secret Garden is opening up again for the season.

To celebrate, and to get the garden ready for the year, we are taking part in the BIG DIG again, organised by Capital Growth .

We will be open on Saturday 22nd March 2014, from 11am-3pm and everyone is welcome.

We will be planting plenty of seeds in the vegetable beds, and in the green house, as well as tidying up around the garden. Our focus this year is to improve the front section of the garden, the bit that most people can see, so it’s more welcoming.

Please come along, the entrance is off Kimpton Road, behind the KFC on Camberwell Church St.

Don’t forget we are also open on Fridays from 3-5pm and on Sunday’s from 11-2pm (but not this Sunday, because of the Big Dig).

Big dig

This Saturday, the Big Lunch returns to the D’Eynsford Estate for the 4 year.

We are not in the garden this year, but on the green by the football pitch. Millwall FC are coming along to do some sessions for kids.

It’s still rather lovely around there, and worth a visit.

This event gets bigger and bigger every year. This year, we are celebrating the mix of nationalities we have on the D’Eynsford Estate by asking people to bring a national dish from their country.

After the Big Lunch, people who live on the estate will also get an opportunity to get a photograph taken by our resident photographer, Tom Leighton (he who did the 36 Reasons To Love Camberwell exhibition at the Hermit’s Cave). The series is called Picture The Block and he will be taking pictures of neighbours and residents of the D’Eynsford estate on the 2nd floor corridor of Belham Walk. The photos will then be exhibited in Belham Walk during the Camberwell Arts Festival. More details at: www.picturetheblock.tumblr.com or @photosbytomtom

Also, don’t forget, the garden is open every Friday from 3pm-5pm. Everyone is welcome.