Things to notice


Wanstead’s guerrilla gardener Marian Temple writes:

We hope everyone is enjoying the glorious Garrya elliptica shrubs with their amazing long catkins at present strutting their stuff in beds around the station. These have not been seen for years. The Garrya must have been in the original planting after the new road in the tunnel was  built. They are grown for their glorious catkins Decemeber to May.  Unfortunately, Redbridge have always sent their contractors round in Autumn to give all the shrubs a trim. Just what you don’t do with a Garrya!  This year, the Wanstead Community Gardeners met with the council contractor and he immediately agreed to change the timetable, cancel the autumn trim and wait for us to let him know when the shrubs needed a hair cut. So this year, possibly for the first time ever, those wonderful catkins are in full growth. When I saw them the other day, it almost looked as though the shrubs were raining! The Wanstead Community Gardeners hope you will take a look and enjoy them.

IMG_0024The other Wanstead Station first time event is the line of glorious vermillion geraniums lined up on that long window sill inside the station. We have for some years past brought in our geraniums to overwinter them away from frost on the station inner window sill. We always cut them right down which is what you are supposed to do but this year we left them at full height. How we have been rewarded!  Never mind about it being winter. Geraniums don’t know the rules anyway. They love the light and the warmth (or lack of cold) and have cheered up their surroundings no end flowering all winter. Wonder how many other stations have a line of geraniums flowering away this time of year. We hope you are enjoying them and will make sure that we do the same next year.

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The surrounds of newly planted trees are ideal for seed sowing because
a) there’s a good amount of space round the tree
b) the new top soil is sterilised so will have no weed seeds, and
c) the young tree will not make the soil too dry and will not cast much shade so sun and rain will reach the soil.

New trees have been planted outside Longhorn and Sumo Fresh. There’s another one opposite outside the Majestic Wine Warehouse. In Cambridge Park, other new trees have been planted and they would be ideal for seed sowing as they get full sun and the pavements are wide, so less likelihood of them being walked on. There’s one outside Treehouse Nursery, (the old church) and another at Tish Press and co, no 27. Between Addison and Gordon Roads there are more trees, one or two recently planted but the others are silver birches which have a light leaf canopy.  Again, they’re in full sun and don’t get walked on.

What to sow? A meadow mix is good, tough plants that don’t need watering, are good for bees and look wonderful. Wanstead Community Gardeners use a meadow mix in the Fountain Beds on George Green. Poppies, cornflowers, marigolds,  lovely stuff.

How to do it?  There is a window of opportunity slightly open at the moment as the council spraying regime is being finalised. If you want to adopt a tree surround, you need to move fast. Get in touch with Stephanie Orrell at the council.  Indicate clearly which tree surround/s you’re interested in. They usually need a house or business number or failing that, a good description of where it is. The tree surround will be put on the register as “resident maintained” and should not be sprayed. It works pretty well. Her email is  This needs to be done immediately. The seeds don’t need to be sown till March or April when they will get nicely rained on.

What would you need to do? You will need to keep the surround weed free and hopefully litter free. If you get bored and don’t want to do it next year, let the council (Stephanie) know and it will be put back on the spraying regime. If you plant early enough with suitable stuff as suggested, there should be no need for watering.

Need any help or advice?  Get in touch with Wanstead Community Gardeners at or drop a note to us at the library.

We hope some of you will adopt these tree surrounds.  It makes such a difference to see flowers blooming in what was, formally a depository for dog ends, plastic bottles and tired looking weeds. All power to your gardening elbows. Marian Temple.

9 thoughts on “Things to notice”

  1. All lovely guys but who is responsible for the planting by the mini roundabout between The George and the station? It’s not too bad at the moment but sometimes the growth is so high that you cannot see what traffic is coming. It makes turning very difficult and potentially very dangerous.

    1. I don’t think you mean the mini roundabout. More likely it’s what we call the “Cherry Pie” bed because it’s opposite the cherry pie plaque in the wall of the George pub. We’ve adopted the end section where the original shrubs had died. There was a problem in the past with very high weeds which did block sight lines for drivers. Last year was our first season with this patch. We grew meadow flowers there. We’re very aware of keeping the growth low and the drivers’ sight lines clear. There should not be a problem with this in future. Marian Temple.

  2. We spotted these the other day and wondered how we’d never noticed them before. On a particularly frosty day the catkins looked like icicles hanging down – much to my son’s delight! Thanks Marion and co!

  3. I’ve walked past that shrub nearly every day for the last 6 years & on Monday was the first day I actually stopped & stood & admired it, simply beautiful in Winter. Keep up the great work Marian.

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