Monday, 3 July 2017

Urban gardening & HOW TO upcycle drinks bottles to make super cute planters.

It's hard to imagine now living in an area with very few green areas but before I moved to my current rural location I pounded pavements with only suburban postage stamp sized gardens to admire for my green fix.

Some people have even less green space in their community which is tragic- statistics show that gardening is as effective as formal therapy for treating mental illness.

flower at Urban garden in London

Those of us lucky enough to have garden space know the joy of smelling the freshness of rain on greenery, the satisfaction of physical effort rewarded with actual food you can eat or flowers you can enjoy and the relaxation gained from watching birds, bees, butterflies and other bugs enjoying your patch of nature.

Mobile Urban Garden city

But not everyone is lucky enough to have their own private garden which is why urban gardens are so important, offering people who might otherwise never have discovered their green fingers explore the pleasure and sense of achievement that can be gained from growing fruit, veg, herbs and flowers.

Mobile Garden City

Last week I visited the Mobile Garden City in the shadow of the new buildings shooting up around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.


Mobile Garden City

With a huge range of plants thriving in numbered moveable planters it was humbling to hear how much benefit the community gets from being able to plant, grow and harvest produce, giving an awareness of where food comes from, offering an entertaining and educational way for people of all ages to relax and hopefully awaken a love of gardening which might continue if only in the format of window boxes or kitchen herb planters.
Mobile Garden City

Organic herbal tea drink HONEST® has partnered with Groundwork to champion green spaces and urban gardening and encouraging everyone to connect with nature. I was invited along to see the great work achieved at the site, just before it moves on to a new site later this year.

Arriving at the urban garden feeling hot and sweaty on a muggy day I was glad to glug a deliciously cool, naturally refreshing HONEST® drink.  I chose the orange and mango flavoured herbal tea. Some fruit-based drinks and cold tea drinks are tasty but can be a bit sickly sweet and not particularly thirst quenching. I found the HONEST tea to have a nicely balanced subtle flavour meaning it was tasty but still refreshing.

Honest tea, refreshing organic drink

Thirst quenched, I listened to keen gardener  and former Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury talk about the social, ecological and health benefits of gardening, especially in built up areas where it can be hard for people to get to green spaces they can work with not just sit in.

I know how much my own children love to dig, and plant and watch things grow, although I am hoping I am maybe not alone having a heart sink moment when the pot with the sunflower seed arrives home from school.

It breaks my heart to think of children in tower blocks and terraces without a garden, nowhere to build a fairy garden or make mud pies or mix "perfume" from petals plucked from the flower beds.

And although I was initially sad to learn the people of Stratford would soon be losing their fabulous mobile open garden, I was very happy to hear it was only moving 20 minutes away by public transport so keen gardeners could continue to access the facilities, while a whole load of new people could be introduced to something so many of us take for granted.

Mobile Garden City

I donned gloves and harvested some rhubarb -I'm tempted to try and copy the mobile garden and have a go at growing some in raised beds as my crop failed miserably in the ground at home.

madmumof7 harvests rhubarb at Mobile Garden City

After that it was craft time! Julia is passionate about recycling and up cycling and for a bit of fun we were shown how to make super cute planters out of the empty plastic HONEST drinks bottles.

The bottles are actually made from renewable plant material and recycled plastic and are 100% recyclable but it was much more fun to make #HonestGarden planters!

Now there's a reason you don't see many crafts on this blog - it's because I am generally rubbish at them, am naturally very messy and probably shouldn't be allowed near a pair of scissors for my own safety. My husband has hidden my glue gun after a particularly sticky craft session ruined our kitchen table.

But even I managed to create planters I am proud of (with a little help from the VERY patient and polite helper at the urban garden.)

Want to make one? You will need:

Scissors, string and an empty HONEST bottle.

up cycled garden planter

Take the label off the bottle then cut (carefully) around the second groove down from the bottle cap.

Cut 4 lines down to the first ridge  (12 noon, 3pm, 6pm and 9pm) and then another 4 lines in between creating 8 equally spaced lines.

Snip each section into a petal shape (mine looked more like dinosaur ridges).

make a garden planter

Next, cut 4 pieces of string, about a metre long each (thats about 5x the length of the label). Tie each piece of string underneath the bottle cap making sure the knots are spread out evening (12noon, 3pm, 6pm and 9pm again).

Make a garden planter

Then comes the (mildly) tricky bit.

Cross over each of the strings with its neighbour and tie a knot around the petal, repeating 4 times on alternate petals.

Your planter is complete!

madmumof7 blogger

I planted a little trailing ivy in mine and it looks really sweet hanging off a nail on a fence panel in my garden. You could plant herbs and hang them in the kitchen window too.

I joined May from EatCookExplore and Swazi from Chocolate Is Not The Only Fruit for a pic with  Julia Bradbury. We had a quick chat about gardening and outdoor showers - Julia revealed she has one and I have spent the last few days convincing my husband we need one too!

bloggers meet Julia Bradbury

Leaving the park I grabbed a pomegranate and blueberry flavoured HONEST tea drink and found I loved that as much as the orange and mango. I plan to plant some mint I have left over from a supermarket "grow and eat" plant in that empty bottle.

I headed back to my rural home feeling even more grateful than normal to be able to live in such a green and pleasant area and feeling humbled that so many people and organisations like HONEST and Groundwork go to so much trouble to ensure many more people have access to green spaces.

Elephant garlic at Mobile Garden City, Stratford


Disclaimer: Sponsored post. Views and opinions remain honest and my own.

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