Over the years there have been volunteers working in the gardens at Shrewsbury House backing up the council workers who, at one time, maintained all aspects of the grounds.
These volunteers stepped up to the challenge taking on the maintenance of the of the gardens when the council services were withdrawn.
The garden is divided into different areas each of which offers different challenges regarding the maintenance and planting:
Entrance - Lawns and flower beds
Library Lawn and flower beds
Woodland Garden - lawn, shrub beds, raised bed and compost corner
Sunken Garden - Lawn, flower bed and planters
Wild Life Garden and pond – as its name implies an area for the birds, butterflies, frogs and a multiplicity of insects. This garden is locked to save guard our young visitors but can be but can be opened on request.
Long Lawn and walled flower bed opposite room One, and the flower beds either side of room one French doors
Electric Garden – surrounds the electricity substation, should be looked at but not entered.
Pergola – runs along the side of the electric garden and is home to the grape vine!!
On March 30th 2020 Our world as we knew it was to change as the Covid Pandemic took hold and the country went into lockdown, for our small band of volunteers this opened up an opportunity for us to carry out tasks which, primarily, for Health and Safety reasons, would not have been possible when the house was open, for example the use of heavy equipment and the moving of large quantities of soil, and the noise generated by some of this equipment would have been unacceptable if classes were taking place, and best of all this activity could be classed as our daily exercise allowance. Gradually the more unruly areas where tamed as shrubs and hedges were cut back, lorry loads of wood chip and mulch, courtesy of the Royal Borough of Greenwich Parks and Open Spaces, was spread over the nutrient starved borders and flower beds, weeds were given the elbow, seedlings were planted along with those donated by members of the community, the generosity of Thompsons Garden Centre, and a wonderful display of dahlias again donated by a member of the community which lit up the flower beds. Pots were planted up, lawns are cut every two weeks which, along with “Hose Nights Out”, which became a necessity during the dry weather in June and we are again experiencing in September.
All of which contributed to a good physical work out contributing to the recommended 10,00 steps a day.
We very much welcome donations of plants and small shrubs as buying plants, except on the odd occasion, is a no-no due to the expense, if you have any plants to give us please leave them with the porter at the front desk.
All freshly planted items have a circle of stones round them as some plants are really small and could be mistaken for weeds, so keep your eyes open and watch them grow.
Gardening is an escape from the noise and bustle of the world, good for you in body and soul, but as any gardener will tell you it will never be finished as the lists of jobs to be done never comes to an end, but the satisfaction at the end of a session of a job well done, is priceless.
If you are interested in helping, please enquire at the office, there are no set session times and quite often we work in the evenings or at the weekends, a lot depends on the weather and what needs doing at the time.
We hope you have enjoyed reading about the garden.
Regards from the volunteers.
If you'd like find out more about the Friends of Shrewsbury House, find out what they do or get involved, send us an email at email@example.com
The wildlife garden received some high quality attention in October, thanks to the labours and expertise of the families at the Garden Get Together on 19 October. Here is what the Friends of Shrewsbury House learned about looking after the pond.
• The pond has flag irises and mares tail and a tiny bit of oxygenating plant – we need to look out for more oxygenating plants when we can.
• Flag irises are very tough plants, that multiply. Come the autumn pond clearout, it is all right to divide them quite brutally, using a saw to cut through the roots.
• Pond plants should each have their own basket pot, which makes it easier to weight them down. We had too few for our fast-multiplying irises, but the view was that the flag iris roots would find a happy home in the sediment we were leaving at the bottom of the pond.
• The mares tail is similarly tough and happy to multiply. It is easy to divide by pulling apart. No saw needed. We had enough pot baskets for the mares tail going back in the pond.
We need to remember to…
• In autumn, cut back the plant height to about 6 inches above the water level.
• Avoid having heather/similar acid loving plants overhanging the pond – their debris won’t help the pond health.
• Use pond plant compost – the usual compost will be too much for the pond life.
• In autumn, build snug little spots (piles of leaves etc) to help any pond creatures that decide the underwater life has got too chilly.
• When you have cleared the pond, leave the debris and discarded plants near the pond for a few days – give any pond life rudely removed from the water by accident a chance to make its way home again when the pond clearers have left.
• Look at ways of creating a ramp or beach head for the pond – so that pond life can get in and out easily and small creatures (like hedgehogs) can get a drink. Our garden experts suggested building up the pebble beach to overlap the plastic pond edge.
• Get a pond net for skimming off dead leaves and other debris, and duckweed come the warmer weather.
Are you good on ponds and pond plants? What to add to or amend anything here? Do please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.
28 September to 6 October 2019T
Thanks to the always supportive Parks and Open Spaces team at Greenwich Council, we received a bumper delivery of woodchip at the end of September. It’s made a huge difference to the Shrewsbury House gardens – the idea is that, as long as we have dislodged the worst of the weeds before we put down the woodchip, it will rot down over the ‘not growing’ season and our friends the worms will help incorporate it into the soil. Come spring and summer 2020, the garden soil will be in much better shape. As usual, a huge thank you to Christina, David, Gill, Liz and Michael who have been working so hard and so fast they have been just a blur. Thank you too to Polly – for her parents’ donation of three massive bags of potting compost and Polly’s terrific plant donations. Watch out too for more news of the great work being done by the Headway gardeners.
Do join us some Saturday from 10 to noon, or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know about how to get involved mid-week.
14 September 2019
Saturday 14 September was our first families Garden Get Together of autumn – and the cake-in-the-shed idea is a definite success. Our next Garden Get Together is on Saturday 19 October 2019 from 11 to 1pm. We will be giving the wildlife garden pond some love and attention. (In truth, the blanket weed may feel that it’s less loved that other pond plants.)
Gill’s been very busy clearing and tidying the flowerbeds near the front gates. We have also been working away to expose the 1920s brickwork and crazy paving under the pergola, although there is a lot of work to do to cheer up the soil and replant that area.
The electric garden is looking a bit stressed – and we have still to get the compost bin in a perfect position. We’re still puzzling about how to tackle the big beds outside Room One. Headway’s gardening looks great, thir bug hotel is a lovely new addition to the garden.
We have received our first Buy a Bag of compost donation, the council mulch is on the way and Shrewsbury House is part of Open House on 21 and 22 September. Onwards, onwards!
31 August 2019
Welcome back from summer – the Friends of Shrewsbury House and the wonderful Headway folk have been working away during the break. If you look at the lower garden, you’ll see fresh planting and a very cheerful gnome family (Headway’s golfer and the mole still live elsewhere though). We have put down manure to perk up the roses and planting in the electric garden. Wire has gone up along the pergola pillars to support the grape vine and we have been weeding, weeding, weeding.
Also, have you been to the Spiral Garden, off Vicarage Park? It’s such an inspiration – at their Plumstravaganza plant swop they gave us lots of cheer, ideas and seeds to help make the Shrewsbury House gardens cheerful-on-a-shoestring.
Speaking of gardening on a shoestring – we are making a ‘one bag of compost’ appeal – if you go the garden centre or supermarket, could you squeeze a bag of compost for us into your car boot? We get wonderful plant donations, but the plants struggle to get going.
Do come along to find us any Saturday from 10 to noon, or email email@example.com if you would like more information on when/ how we work mid-week.
Our next meeting is at 9.30 on Tuesday 17 September 2019 at Shrewsbury House - just ask at reception to find out where we are.
Our Saturday Garden Get Togethers, aimed at families and anyone who likes to potter about in the garden, this autumn are from 11am to 1pm:
22 June 2019
This Saturday Liz, Christina and David (aka the A Team) were back in action – quelling the jungly growth in the electric garden and picking their way around a remarkable, legs-eleven style installation curated by ArtFix. If you’ve not seen it, you should drop by to boggle and admire.
We had some extra help from Stan, who with Christina and David’s expert guidance, pruned one of the lovely little fruit trees in the electric garden. (The rootstock had really taken off – you who know about fruit trees will understand what that means. Your reporter can only say that the tree does look much better now.) During the week Christina and David had cut back the worst of the grass in the electric garden and on Saturday we cleared around the raspberry canes and roses to give them a chance. There is still a lovely little meadow patch – it’s a perfect quiet space because the Danger of Death issues mean only staff and the gardeners enter this part of the garden.
Mr Chris (another branch of the remarkably energetic A Team volunteers) had also been in action during the week – extending the wire supports for the climbing roses. There will be wire going up to support the grapevine too – it’s a tougher job than you might think. For one thing, the listed status means we can’t just hammer in nails wherever we like in the pergola supports.
Michael (yes, yet another branch of the A Team) has been mowing and trimming and Headway continue to work their magic. And we had a report of nature news in the wildlife gardent ' We saw a cinnabar moth on the lawn by the wildlife pond garden yesterday evening! I tried to get a pic but it flew off...We found a small birds nest too '
Do feel free to join us – just introduce yourself at the front desk.
15 June 2019
The gardening A Team were back in action at Shrewsbury House this weekend (Gill, Liz, Christina and David). They finished the much-harder-than-you-might-think work of cutting the grass edges to give clear finish between the lawn and path/ flowerbeds. It looks so much better. And it sets off the fantastic work done by Headway on clearing the weeds from between the pathing stones. We all like a bit green to soften the look of the stone. But it gets out of hand very fast! Christina snapped some damsel flies in the wildlife garden and very speedily got some of our sunflower plants into the electric garden. Will the sunflowers survive the slugs and stones and fast-growing weed environment? Not sure really. But we think the ground will just drink up our next mulch/woodchip delivery from the kind people at Greenwich parks and open spaces.
We also continued cleaning up the weeds and scurf from the steps down to the wildlife garden, and turned a rogue sycamore into supports for the sunflowers. The clean-up revealed more of the 1920s approach to architectural salvage that is in most of the garden steps at Shrewsbury House. Plenty more weeding etc to do if you would like to join us. Also, there is some chatting.
8 June 2019
It was all excitement in the Shrewsbury House gardens on Saturday – first, the volunteer gardeners needed to boggle at the great work achieved during the week by Michael (gardening dynamo) and the Headway gardeners. Headway’s planters now have lovely, developing set of tomato plants and a hosepipe system for easy watering. The planters may also become the perfect home too for the strawberry plants that are descendants of the toddler group’s gardening – thank you Headway for adopting them!
Next, we did our ritual staring at the wildlife garden and at the electric garden. A tiny bit of clipping kept the path free in the wildlife garden and, with luck, we’ll have enough meadow style growth to attract our cinnabar moth caterpillar friends from last year. Life is a little more complicated in the electric garden, which could do with bit more attention. We gave the compost bin a vigorous shake and decided to use it only for fast-rotting material – we love our furry friends with tails, obviously, but it’s even better when they realise even they have some boundaries that must not be crossed. This week, with luck, the Friends will squeeze in some evening weeding before the electric garden becomes the electric jungle. If you would like to help, just make yourself known at the front desk. You'd be more than welcome.
25th May 2019
Does anyone remember the terrific plants donated by lovely Shelley, back in the spring? Well, there’d been some low-key panic about getting them in the ground as it quickly emerged that they weren’t happy lingering in pots until the autumn. The bank holiday Saturday saw the teeny tiny skimmia (you’ll see loads of giant skimmia around here, often as boundary hedges) popped in the ground left of the front door. I could have done with some kind of ancestral Irish curse to frighten off the ground elder, but beggars can’t be choosers. The very pretty hebe found a home in the garden outside the library’s French windows and the grass is pioneering a ‘grassy thing’ near the bunker. Meanwhile, if you have noticed a general neat and tidy thing happening in the front – that is thanks to the heroic Gill with the edging iron and her weeding. Do come along one Saturday – you too could be ‘indefatigable’ or ‘resolute’ (without also having to be a 19th century warship).
Gill and I hugged the shade on 1 June because it really was blisteringly hot. Despite that, Gill continued weeding. There is now also a leaf mould collector in the wildlife garden (not particularly elegant, but effective) and a separate pile of turf rotting down (left over from all that edging).
We also have two gargantuan tasks awaiting us.
News to follow on how we plan to climb those particular mountains and about another Saturday garden get together in July.
18 May 2019
Some keen-eyed visitors to the wildlife garden spotted a tiny mouse out to play this Saturday, presumably making a trip to see the tadpoles. They are still happy, getting bigger, as are the lily pads. All we need now is for one of the tadpoles to step into the Jeremy Fisher role – the scene is set.
This week’s garden volunteers tackled the continuing great work of edging the lawns – which are steadily creeping over the stone paths – and planting some donated shrubs and grasses. We also, with some help from one of the lovely attendees at a Shrewsbury House crafternoon, set up some protection for the loganberry plants.
Next week we’re looking forward to admiring the bughouse that the Beavers have set up. It’s magnificent!
May 11 2019
Our volunteer gardeners have been busy. Michael tackled the grass, Gill and Liz continued to wield the edging irons to great effect. It's amazing a) how quickly the grass starts to colonise any paving and b) how great the neatened edges look. Caroline stared very hard at the pond, puzzling about a fresh pond weed development. Was it choking the tadpoles? Advice was that tadpoles would just have to cope, as clearing the weed could do more harm than good. Separately - our loganberries have suffered in the lawn cutting. But will be back!
Also - it's last minute,, but the seeds for the 2019 Shrewsbury House Sunfllower Trail are dropping through Laing Estate letterboxes this week. If you live on the Laing estate, but don't get a home delivery of seeds (home deliveries are limited this year because we've missed the school holidays!!), there will be some seeds at the Shrewsbury House reception.Or, of course, please do plant your own! The home delivery seeds are 'Giant Single' - so some variety would be welcome. My theory is that it's still worth planting the seeds in May, or even early June.
4 May 2019
The tadpoles looked a bit chilly in the pond this week - much more sluggish than in the heat of mid-April. But the lily pads are uncurling and we even have tiny berry-like things on the blueberry bushes. The authentic 1920s crazy paving under the pergola is giving us an authentic 21st century headache with its out of control weediness but the anemones are peeping out and the thyme we planted last autumn is looking perky. Next time you have a coffee, take a look - and send us an empathy parcel!
27 April 2019
The gardening volunteers took a busman's holiday at the end of April - they went off litterpicking with the Friends of Oxleas Woods, cleaning a church and (outrageous) working in their own garden. Luckily, the chill weather deceived nature into slowing down the weed growth, it seems, so we got away with our holiday.
Saturday 20th April
Easter Saturday would have been a very quiet gardening day at Shrewsbury House, had it not been for a bumper donation of plants from the wonderful Shelley. Shelley has been spring cleaning her beautiful organic garden in Elephant and Castle and Shrewsbury House is the lucky beneficiary – a winter flowering viburnum, a teeny tiny skimmia, a lavender, agave cactus (it grows outdoors, full sun!), a native British grass (whose name I have forgotten) and a hebe (white flowers) arrived on Saturday morning – in their own compost. The solo Saturday gardener was a bit overcome by this much excitement on top of meeting the borough’s Mayor. (Rather splendid - the Mayor was at Shrewsbury House for the launch of Maritime Radio, which was also quite splendid.)
Tadpole news – the pond is going bananas. It’s as if every tadpole in London decided to visit Shooters Hill for the weekend.
Saturday 13th April
This week the Shrewsbury House volunteer gardeners tackled the leaves clogging up the new growth in the lower garden (between the Old Library and Greengarth), did some more edging, kept on weeding and mulching at the front cut and strimmed the grass (that's a massive task)!. In the wildlife garden, the tadpoles look very happy, but it's hard to say what's a frog and what's a toad.
Next Saturday we are having a break for Easter but will be back on Saturday 1st May. If you would like to join us and volunteer at Shrewsbury House please come along any Saturday 10am until noon, all are welcome, we are family friendly!
Saturday 6th April
A hardy group offive gardeners braved the chill to continue nibbling away at the maintenance tasks in the Shrewsbury House gardens. We continued: tidying up the beds with the edging iron, plus weeding and mulching. We piled up our leaf mould in the wildlife garden, and stared at the frogspawn and toadspawn. We also moved the north end compost bin to a new home in the electirc garden (yes, that was a very messy job)! and tidied up the leaves round the cafe tables and chairs. We also admired the first signs of Headways arrival, with all their gardening gusto. Welcome!
Our new willow arch was also planted in it's new home this week, in the lower garden by the Old Library, it's is looking beautiful and seems very happy in it's new spot!
Saturday 30th March
We had the first Garden Get Together of 2019 - cleaning up the gardens next to the famous - and listed - Cold War Bunker. The hedgehogs were sensibly all in hiding, but we left plenty of holes for their travels under the fence to and from into the Greengarth bungalow gardens. Our youngest volunteers,fortified by squash and cake, moved what seemed like a forest - worth of leaves and tree debris.
Look out for....
News of our willow arch - kindlly given to Shrewsbury Houseby Greenwich Community Garden now that they have closed.
Back at the end of January we had a walk around the gardens with Joe Woodcock who offered us advice on improving our garden, to read our plan for this year click here.
Shrewsbury House has a wonderful wildlife gardens that has a bug hotel, pond (full of tadpoles)! briar patch and nettle bed, it is a wonderful place for children to come and explore nature.
Room 3 - The big little free library
Shrewsbury House has
a lovely community library room, full of books to swop, borrow and browse - children's books, all kinds of fiction, cookery books, history and factual books and a collection of DVD's. That many book takes quite a bit of looking after - and noodling around trying to get them in order is a perfect alternative to gardening if you prefer to volunteer indoors.
We welcome all to come along and volunteer in the house and gardens, we will be holding regular family friendly garden get togethers with plenty to do for children when they get fed up with gardening! Do come along and see us!
Story card two – Shooters Hill kids and the tumulus ghosts
Find the Friends
* You will find us any Saturday from 10am to noon at Shrewsbury House.
* Ask about the Friends in the bar at Shrewsbury House on Friday evenings.