4 Jun 2013

Cake, Sunday, the Fringe benefits.

Chelsea Fringe, now in its second year, has been offering up a range of creative garden themed events over the past two weeks. One of the events that I've been looking forward to was the Cake Sunday organised by Naomi of Outofmyshed blog.  Her community gardening project, the focus of her excellent book Veg Street, hosts regular cake and tea events for local residents to get together and share garden chat.  Last year and this, as part of Chelsea Fringe, the street has welcomed members of the public to have a good gawp at their lovely front gardens and planted tree pits in the pavements, eat cake, drink tea, make seed bombs and have a good chat.  This year the event also boasted a grand opening by a group of Chelsea Pensioners and singalong entertainment from allotmenteer and songstress Jo Stephenson.

Singer and crowd

Running alongside the real-life Cake Sunday has been a virtual version, the Bloggers Cut, hosted by Veg Plotting blog, to bring a wider internet gardening community together over more cake!  As I took part in both, I had some hard decisions to make regarding what sort of cake I would make.  I love baking cakes but had to limit myself to just one. (Actually, I made two but the coffee sponge with cappucino marscapone filling was bagged by my teenager for a stay-at-home cake.)

Various recipes using garden grown ingredients were considered: should it be my summer fruits traybake or perhaps Jono's almond topped rhubarb cake?  I would have loved the recipe for the carrot and courgette cake which a local cafĂ© serves but in the end opted for this lemon and polenta cake which I topped with edible flowers and petals held on with a lemon glaze.

Cake

Once over at the event, I dropped the cake off and quickly locked my bicycle.  I'd missed the grand opening by the Chelsea Pensioners (thanks to faffing around collecting edible flowers) but was in time to hear some hilarious songs by the singing allotmenteer, Jo Stephenson.  I'd spied this fabulously retro-frocked and wellied up creature chatting to visitors as I supped tea with some friends I'd bumped into.

Chatting

Jo kept us entertained with her true life songs of stolen marrows, slugs and Alan Titchmarsh (not necessarily in the same song), standing among the potatoes and alliums of the disco ball community rock garden.  Jo and her singing partner Dan have a show called 'Can You Dig It?' on next Saturday, 8th June in Bethnal Green.

Whilst everyone was gathered round, it was the perfect opportunity to present the awards for the best planting in a tree pit, with a small trophy presented to each of the three recipients. As I understand it, judging by the Curious Gardener and Veronica from Which? Gardening was firm but fair.  Monocultures not allowed. Diversity of planting gaining extra points. Colin is a hard man to sway.

Tree pit prizes

Earlier in the day, local resident Tim Bushe had demonstrated his topiary cutting;  I already knew of the elephants that he'd created and wanted to pop back for a closer look. I absolutely love them - if I had a large scruffy privet hedge, I'd want my own herd.

Herd ele


Another hedge had been clipped in a vertical box design with an arched entrance to the garden and reminded me of Christopher Bradley-Hole's clipped show garden for the Telegraph at Chelsea.


That just left time for a quick tour of the neighbourhood front gardens;  the project has encouraged many households to grow both edible and ornamentals and to create gardens they're proud of.  There are some lovely gardens in the street - out of many, these three caught my eye and I was able to have a quick chat to one or two of the owner gardeners.

Front garden 1
Lovely juxtaposition of colours in this garden, especially the way the slate mulch echoes the colours of the planting.

Front Garden 3
Thriving plants in this garden get morning sun and are well tended by an enthusiastic owner. 
I was invited through to see the back garden which is even lovelier with extremely well stocked borders.

Front garden 2
This corner plot was untended a few years ago and slightly letting the show down.  Now planted up with strawberries, potatoes and ornamental perennials (and disco rock balls!), it's a visual treat.
It was a wonderfully fun afternoon with a great community ethos - ideas that could be taken up by anyone wanting to get to know gardening neighbours better (we gardeners do love a good horticultural chat!).  As I cycled off back to reality (last minute supermarket shopping), some of the crowd had dispersed towards another Fringe event - a foraging walk at nearby Islington Ecology Centre - which Naomi had kindly reminded us about - another example of community spirit.

20 comments:

  1. Love the elephant topiary. Now wondering if I could clip tiny elephants from my box. Probably a little ambitious seeing as this is my first year with topiary! Still tempted :-).

    Enjoy the weather - everything blooming all of a sudden.

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    1. Hi Claire! Tim also does cats, dragons and trains - and everyone has to start somewhere so I say 'Go for it' - perhaps not with elephants - maybe a hippo or two? This weather is fab, isn't it? Wish I had more time to be in the garden but working (and studying) flat out at the moment. Hope you're making the most of the weather!

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  2. Oh sounds as if you had a great day Caro - gardens and cake - what better combination could you hanker after. Sadly the link to your cake has gone missing :( Wanted to drool over its no doubt deliciousness. Love those elephants and the front gardens. Alliums and disco balls are a winning combination.

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    1. Hi Anna! Yes, It was a real treat to step away from the chore list at home and spend an afternoon in good company and sunshine. Thanks for flagging up a broken link - I just tried the link to the traybake and it works at this end. Hmm. Bit confused now! The lemon polenta cake recipe hasn't been posted as it's pretty much available everywhere but I may put it up if it seems a good idea. I did, of course, tweak it a bit! :)

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  3. Must have been a temporary blip Caro as I can now see the photo of your cake complete with floral finishing touches - much too pretty to eat!

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    1. Aha! Thanks Anna! I wasn't sure whether it was the link to the traybake or pic of latest cake. It was only when my son rebooted the internet and I came back onto my blog page that I could see the broken link to the photo and knew what needed fixing! Phew!
      I wanted to give the cake a slight garden arty theme and the petals were actually very tasty! (Not that the cake lasted too long; luckily I tasted the flowers before they were added as decoration!).

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  4. What a fabulous day out - totally loving the elephant topiary and, of course, your beautifully decorated cake Caro. Looks delish!

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    1. Thanks Jules - it was! There were so many fabulous cakes donated that I was spoiled for choice on the day. It's a great idea to offer cake to everyone and a good conversation starter if you're meeting folk for the first time!

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  5. What a fantastic event, it sounds like a great time was had by all, and what's not to love when there's gardening and cake all rolled in to one? The cake you made looks very tasty, I bet it didn't last long. I love those elephants, what a talent to be able to create something like that.

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    1. I love community events like this - and it was especially great that I was able to cycle over to join the fun! I don't think there were many cakes left over at the end, although the table had been groaning with goodies earlier in the afternoon. I think Tim's topiary is fantastic - amazing to have the confidence to do something like that!

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  6. What an enjoyable blog and terrific photos, especially the green elephants which I have seen pictures of before. It sounds, and looks, like you had a wonderful time and had a slice or two of cake. Flighty xx

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    1. Not forgetting the gardener's essential - a good cup of tea! Seriously though, yes, it was a wonderful afternoon and there were many smiling faces all round. A great success for Naomi and her neighbours!

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  7. Oh, how I wish I could have been there, it looks so much fun and I'm itching to see Tim's elephants!

    It's been great to have a glimpse of proceedings via yours and Veronica's posts. I have some polenta kicking around in the back of the cupboard - now I know what to do with it :)

    Thanks for joining in Caro!
    x

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    1. VP, it would have been lovely to see you there! You did a grand job of organising the virtual Cake Sunday - lots of lovely recipes to follow so it was a pleasure to take part in both Cake Sunday events! C xx

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  8. what a wonderful day you had and lovely cake too! The elephants are amazing, just shows what can be done with boring old privet. This is a fantastic way to get the community together, and keep them together, gardeners everywhere like talking about their plants.

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    1. Hi Pauline! I think this event is a great way to join in on Chelsea Fringe activities and hopefully will have given Tim's business a boost. There were free plants and seeds to take away as well so a good all round gardening day for everyone - plus, of course, the sun was shining which always helps!

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  9. Sounds like a great day. Those elephants are incredible and so does that cake. ;)

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    1. Hi Welly, yes, it was! I think the elephants are getting quite famous now - I hope the owner of the elephant hedge doesn't mind his herd being photographed so often!! This sort of event is such a good way to get the community together - both on the day and in the lead up to organising it!

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  10. Your cake looks amazing, as do the elephants, and it sounds like a really fun event to have been able to participate in. I like the concept of a stay-at-home cake though I don't imagine it stayed on the plate long...

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  11. Thank you, Janet! Yes it was a fun day but it was nice to have anocther cake to think about on the following day. Both my son and I enjoy coffee cake so it gets eaten up quite quickly! Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever met a cake I didn't like!

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Comments on my posts are much appreciated and help to build an online community of blog friends. Everyone is welcome! I love to discover new blogs so please leave a comment to introduce yourself.
Caro x

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