Hi Gardening Leave fans! This has been an eventful month and a half and has brought lots of exciting news and activities. It also brought a lot of weeds in the garden. I have been keeping things ticking over and we have some lovely sweetcorn, squash, peas and loads of rampant broad beans. Heidi (a gardener for the Royal Hospital) has very kindly given us a huge number of geraniums too which are floating around looking for a good home. When the daffodils are truly dead perhaps they will be a good replacement. During April, our Chelsea Pensioners created some lovely things such as gutter gardens. These really brighten up our shed and will be a perfect home for salad leaves during the summer which we can harvest for our sandwiches.
Thankfully, with the warmer weather we have been able to work outside more often (I even got sunburnt a couple of weeks back!) and we have been planting veggies for the MTI café.
In mid April (the 10th) I had the privilege of showing four wonderful ladies around the garden and they were kind enough to donate some money to Gardening Leave, a big thank you to the Martin Charitable Trust and the Rosary Gardens in South Kensington. Whilst exploring the greenhouses, they caught a glimpse of our lovely hand-made and hand-painted bird-boxes (made by the pensioners carpentry club) and asked if they could buy some -they think we’re onto something with these as a fundraising idea. Andy, the guardsman, has also bagsied a box so look out for photos of more to come.
Towards the end of April I had some leave and went on holiday so things were quiet in the garden. I returned to find some very dry and sad looking plants but they’ve since perked up. A few days after coming back from leave, I was hopping onto a train to sunny Scotland to work with Pam, Victoria, Evelyn, Sallie, Heather and the rest of the Ayrshire gang! I stayed two weeks, met lots of incredible people and learnt a great deal. I was made to feel so welcome and for this I cannot thank everyone up in Scotland enough. What a fantastic bunch! During my stay, I was sent on a course to learn about helping our clients – Heather is very keen on the professional development of her staff – which taught me all kinds of useful things. Simple communication was emphasised the most.
Upon my return to the garden, I was confronted by a jungle of weeds and I have been working away at them all day. Clover is now the bane of my existence. This morning, our pensioners were sowing lettuce, various salads, carrots, radishes and spinach for the café which should be ready for harvest in around 3 weeks. Pictures to follow!
More general news around Gardening Leave Chelsea includes an exciting new garden opening up in East Acton. We will soon be working to transform a garden owned by CHT Homebase (http://www.cht.org.uk/index.php) from a slab of tarmac to a green paradise – again, pictures and more on this to follow. ISS (http://www.issworld.com/Pages/Frontpage.aspx) will be working with us to achieve this and hopefully will do some work on our own lovely Chelsea patch in the Autumn. Thank you ISS. Also coming up is the Open Garden Squares Weekend (OGSW), during which we will be allowing the public to come and have a nosey at our garden. We hope that this will help us to raise awareness of the problems our veterans face and go a little way towards achieving our aim of reducing the stigma attached to mental health problems in the community. The garden will be open on the 8th and 9th of June and tickets are available through the OGSW website.
Finally, I must thank See It Gro for donating a vast number of grow bags. We cannot thank our donors enough and the grow bags will be put to very good use! Thank you See It Grow! (http://www.seeitgro.co.uk/).
Well, that’s about it from me for now. Same time next month!