The Meeting House backyard is a small area with a hard surface: with a patch of earth around an old apple tree growing against the low boundary wall to the west. When we started to plan the garden in spring 2013 the only other plants were a clump of hellebores and some bluebells under the apple tree. Our aim was to create an attractive garden that would enhance the setting of the Meeting House, but which would also be:
Sustainable – using recycled and recyclable materials, rainwater for watering, plants that were friendly to bees. Plants troughs and labels are made from recycled scraps of wood, wall trellises are constructed from lopped hazel stems. The second-hand compost bin, the wooden edgings to the reusable grow bags and the water butt on a home-made stand were gifts.
Environmentally friendly, encouraging biodiversity – So we have a ‘Pond in a pot’ to encourage wild life, old leeks whose flowers attract bees, and we have retained the self-propagated plants that made their home here accidentally – they include the Ivy-leaved toadflax decorating the wall, a large thistle, a yarrow plant by the kitchen door and an enormous verbascum below the apple tree.
Useful and productive – showing how herbs and vegetables can be grown in a limited space. Produce is bought by our members in aid of good causes.
Inexpensive – thanks to many gifts and loans of materials, containers and plants, all that we needed to buy were two reusable grow bags and some compost.
Reversible – as alterations to the Meeting House (including indoor WCs) are under discussion, there are no permanent structures.
An opportunity for co-operation and sharing, a source of inspiration and enjoyment, and a place for reflection.
The plants chosen were those which were suitable for pots in a confined space. During the summer we have enjoyed, or look forward to:
Fruit: apples, wild strawberries (in the wall troughs), blackberries (wild, behind the kitchen)
Vegetables: tomatoes (many kinds), runner beans, callaloo
Herbs: marjoram, oregano, chives, chervil, sage, rosemary, basil, buckler-leaved sorrel
Flowers: marigolds (Calendula), nasturtiums, day lily (all edible); and many others including geranium, pelargonium, onifera, hellebore, hosta.
The silver and green foliage covering the ground below the Apple tree around the miniature pool includes pulmonaria, lamium, london pride, ferns and feverfew.
Some special plants
The runner beans are the variety Painted Lady, an old type with distinctive orange and white flowers.
The climbing tomatoes on the trellis are Gardener’s Delight, which produce long trusses of small sweet fruit. The bush tomatoes in front of the Meeting house wall is Currant, a variety from the Heritage Seed Library with prolific small sweet fruit, which have been the first to ripen here. Behind them are another two unusual tomatoes in pots, grown from seeds from the Heritage Seed Library. Shimmeig Creg, named in honour of the last known speaker of Manx, means ‘Striped rock’. The fruit are smooth and plum-shaped, red with yellowish streaks. Scotland Yellow has golden yellow largish fruits on long trusses.
The München Bier radish, a giant radish near the ‘pond-in-a-pot’ is grown for its edible pods, a favourite snack for Munich beer drinkers.
Callaloo Mrs McGhie. Described by Garden Organic as a typical Jamaican variety of callaloo, with large pale green leaves showing some red colouration. Its wide range of uses includes stir-fried with coconut milk and tomatoes, in soups and steamed with fish. The plants are not yet full grown: they grow about waist high and have a long drooping lime green tassel-like flowers.