Leaves of all shapes and textures.

Leaves of all shapes and textures, including Mallow, Burdock and Mayweed.

As a part of our ongoing muck heap works, a new bank was created from well rotted manure behind the pens of our Saddleback and Potbellied pigs. This loose, nutrient-rich area was left unplanted to allow local flora to colonise and in just a few short months, it has quickly turned a lush green, filled with new foliage. This morning, I visited the site with local botanist and Mudchute trustee, John Swindells, to find out more about some of the plants which have found their way to the new bank.

The area which was bare ground only months ago is now lush and green.

The area which was once bare ground is now lush and green.

Botanist John Swindells examines the colonising flora.

Botanist John Swindells examines the colonising flora.

Henbane and Sowthistle are among the many plants establishing themselves.

Henbane and Sowthistle are among the many plants establishing themselves.

Common Mallow is among several of the plants currently in flower.

Common Mallow is among several of the plants currently in flower.

Field and Opium poppies are also in flower, alongside the yellow flowers of Nipplewort.

Field and Opium poppies are also in flower, alongside the yellow flowers of Nipplewort.

The distinctive shape of Shepherd's Purse.

The distinctive shape of Shepherd’s Purse.

Italian Rye Grass also appears to be thriving.

Italian Rye Grass also appears to be thriving.

It's no too hard to imagine how the Spiny Sowthistle got its name!

It’s not too difficult to imagine how the Spiny Sowthistle got its name!

Mayweed flowers. The delicate feathery foliage of this plant makes up much of the growth on the mound.

Mayweed flowers. The delicate feathery foliage of this plant makes up much of the growth on the mound.

Disturbed land and a lack of taller plants provides opportunities for low-lying plants like this Lesser Swinecress.

Disturbed land and a lack of taller plants provides opportunities for low-lying plants like this Lesser Swinecress.

Fat Hen and other Chenopodium are also thriving.

Fat Hen and other Chenopodium are also thriving.

Black Horehound with its distinctive odour when disturbed.

Black Horehound with its distinctive odour when disturbed.

Invertebrates such as this ladybird larva have also moved onto the mound.

Invertebrates such as this ladybird larva have also moved onto the mound and we found evidence of fox activity as well.

Flowering Fat Hen, Poppy and Potato (perhaps an allotment escapee!).

Flowering Fat Hen, Poppy and Potato (perhaps an allotment escapee!).

It was great to see so many wild species moving into the area so quickly and we look forward to watching the area develop and mature. The plants found growing on the mound are also found throughout Mudchute, so be sure to keep an eye out for these species on your next visit!


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Thursday saw the planting of our very own community orchard! With the help of the London Orchard Project, volunteers, staff and students from the local George Green’s School and Cubitt Town Infants School, we planted apple, pear and plum trees, forming an orchard in the Maze Field located between the Playing Field and Forest School. It was a fantastic day only made possible by your help, thank you to all who joined us!

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Planting our first apple tree!

Planting our first apple tree!

The morning began with a visit from George Green’s School. Staff and students got stuck in helping to unload our materials for the day, including plenty of forks, shovels and spades.

Lewis McNeill of the London Orchard Project helped us identify the best sites for our trees and demonstrated how to prepare the soil to give them the best possible start on the farm. By making sure they are planted properly, we can ensure that they will be able to put their roots out and begin to establish themselves here at Mudchute when they wake up from their winter dormancy . This includes planting the trees at the right depth, loosening the surrounding soil, decreasing competition from weeds and surrounding trees, and giving them a boost with the help of symbiotic fungi. Demonstrating with help from the students, he helped us plant the first apple tree of the orchard.

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We then broke into groups to take on the heavy digging work. While digging, we uncovered earthworms of all shapes and sizes as well as the larvae of several beetle species (a rare glimpse into our subterranean ecosystem!). Once the sites were prepared, it was time for the trees!

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IMG_1501Before planting, we dipped the roots of our new trees in a wallpaper-paste-like bath of fungal spores, which will help the new trees extract nutrients from the soil. Once the trees had been dipped, the students carefully lowered the trees into their carefully prepared planting sites and began replacing the displaced soil. They then surrounded the base of the trees with dampened cardboard to help suppress weed growth, and a protective top layer of woodchip and mulch.

To protect the trees from our grazing animals, we then added tree guards made of fenceposts and wire. These will keep the trees safe from nibbling while they are young. The process was quite similar to putting in fencing, a very common chore around the farm! However, with the tall height of the posts, hard hats were required.

Students from Cubitt Town learning about blossoms.

Students from Cubitt Town learning about blossoms.

IMG_1518After a brief break for lunch, Cubitt Town Infants School came to see our morning’s work, find out more about trees and help us plant an apple tree in the playing field. The students loved finding worms and other creatures in the soil and did a fantastic job preparing the ground for our new tree, taking turns and digging expertly. The whole class helped firm in the soil and spread its surrounding bedding of woodchip. We finished planting the tree just as a storm rolled in. As we packed up our tools, the rain began, watering in our new trees!

An enormous thank you to all of the staff and volunteers who assisted on the project, the London Orchard Project, and the students and teachers from George Green’s School and Cubitt Town Infants School for all their hard work. We look forward to nurturing our new fruit trees with your help and watching them grow and develop over the years to come!

You can find more photos from our planting day below!


Our Chelsea Fringe installation was a huge success and was still standing after three weeks of heavy rain. Hundreds of children and volunteers helped build this green utopian vision of London. A big thanks to Waitrose, HSBC,Cubitt Town, George Green and the many other people that put there imagination towards this project.