Spring 2020 Articles

Mental Health Aareness Week

As it begins to sink in that things will be different for a while, many of us have felt a little deflated at times, but the power of the garden continues and, in more ways, than one. Mental health awareness week was an opportunity for us all to talk from our hearts about what might be going on in our heads. Looking after our mental health has never been more important, it is vital we find these moments to pause, drop in on ourselves and ask, ‘how am I really feeling right now?’

With much focus placed on happiness as the key, we often don’t allow space for the whole spectrum of emotion that makes us truly human. To feel it all and hold it gently with kindness matters most. Green spaces allow us the physical space to breathe and find this mental space. Right now, they are flourishing. Maybe if we nurture one space the other will always follow.

By Vanessa Goldbert of Southsea Green
Saturday 23rd May 2020


Appreciating that many people enjoy my little gardening poem's published in this column, but did you know that the Author and Poet A.A. Milne, famous for his story, “Winnie the Pooh” was also a keen gardener.

In his book, “The Day's Play” first written in 1910 he has written a short chapter on gardening.

“Never plant spring onions and potatoes in the same bed”, he exclaims.

By mistake he thought the Onion bulbs were daffodil bulbs However, they were infact young onions that had actually brought tears to the eyes of the new potatoes he had planted to such an extent that the potatoes were too damp for baking or roasting and had to be mashed. He thought mashed potatoes were beastly.

He tended his Asparagus like a child, placing a hot water bottle in the Asparagus Bed. (I think hot water bottles were made of stone in those days).

In my former Guest house in St. Ronan 's Road, Southsea I had wondered why there were gaps between the two layers of bricks in the walls of the vegetable garden. It was to burn straw and keep the fruit plants, grown against the wall, free from frosts, I gathered.

As for Rhubarb, he planted this in his flower garden in-between the rows of Carnations which, he claimed, “excellently improved the complexion of the flowers tenfold”.

By Irene Strange Patron & Garden Poet
Saturday 16th May 2020
Artwork on pebbles

Back in the Summer of 2019, I visited Southsea Green with Enham Trust to participate in some community work with the class. The day had turned out to be an absolute scorcher, with the sun high in the sky and the bees and butterflies going about their business. I instantly felt a sense of calm was over me as I stepped into the garden.

We all got designated jobs to do, mine being to upcycle one of the benches by repainting it. I chose various shades of purple, pinks and yellows, like the colours of wildflowers. The other students busied themselves with tasks like watering the plants and tidying up. Towards the end of the day, we joined together to paint some pebbles to take home with us and to enjoy a refreshing drink after all our hard work.

I'm really glad I got to have this wonderful experience, everyone there was incredibly lovely, kind and welcoming to all of us, I'm looking forward to going again!

By Nate
Saturday 9th May 2020
Meadow of daisies

May!! What a wonderful month of the year, plants growing boldly and with such vibrancy, everything really beginning to thrive. Spending so much time indoors during these glorious months is feeling painful for so many of us. Now more than ever it’s about making those moments spent outside really matter, for us to connect with all our senses and absorb nature’s beauty like never before.

The Southsea Green garden continues to thrive and we’re keeping things happy until our doors can open once more. Whist looking forward to these times we think of the positive impact the garden already has on those who come inside to explore. Next week sees a special article written by one of our young visitors and supported by Vik Burnand, a more fabulous volunteer you’d be hard pushed to meet! So, keep your eyes peeled for their words and a chance to reflect on our love for Southsea and it’s beautifully vital green spaces.

By Vanessa Goldbert
2nd May
Sketch of Sun, mountains and green space

As we approach May our green spaces are really starting to show us what miracles a little sunlight can do. Seeds are sprouting, buds unfurling and shoots striving ever upwards. At times like these this extra light and warmth is a real treat as we all begin to appreciate the small things like never before, realising that they were the big things all along.

Sunshine can change our perspective, allow us to see things in a different light, but we must remember that when the sun does not shine, and our skies seem cloudy that the blue sky is still there. Weather is transient, and these worrying times will too pass. As French novelist Marcel Proust once said, ‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking out new landscapes but in having new eyes.’ We can look forward, but there is still beauty right here and right now.

By Vanessa Goldbert
25th April

The sowing and planting season is here! In spite of the corona virus you can work in your garden or on the allotments. March is the big sowing month in the veg garden. Down here we are usually ahead of the game, but the weather decided otherwise. It is good to go now though Our season can start earlier but extends later. If you are a little late to begin, you will still get very good crops. Plant onions and garlic sets as soon as the soil allows - Broad beans too.

Cover the ground with cloches or plastic a week before sowing to help the soil warm and dry. Follow with carrots, early potatoes, early peas and the rest. Trust the ground and the weather not the date! Sow tender crops indoors. Peppers are slow and like heat so use a heated propagator or very warm windowsill. Tomatoes are quicker and don’t require as much heat, a warm window will do. Last chance to prune roses. Summer bedding shouldn’t go out until early May. If you are growing from seed, you will need to keep the plants inside until then.

By Goff Gleadle
18th April
Wild garlic plant shown

Here in the garden in mid-March the Wild Garlic is thrusting through the soil and once again taking over the corner of the lawn in its highly invasive way.

It's heady aroma and pungent smell, sends the senses reeling, and can be noticed long before the bright Green leaves and white star-like flower's are seen, both of which are edible.

Taking pots of these to the Southsea Green garden previously, new gardeners could be mis-led by the long gangly grass like leaves looking like weeds. The leaves of the Wild Garlic can be chopped and used like herbs or added to salads alongside crisp but lack-tasting lettuce or used in soups or made into a pesto or velote or the buds can be pickled. Garlic bulb-lets have forced their way through right next to the Lily of the Valley shoots which are highly toxic and great care needs to be taken not to confuse the two very different plants when harvesting Garlic.

By Irene Strange
11th April

In just a few short weeks it feels as if the world has been turned upside down. We dream of simple walks to the park or chance meetings with friends and neighbours, instead we must socially distance ourselves, a phrase that meant nothing before and now sums up so much. Deep comfort can still be found, knowing the natural world thrives, the spring sun is warming, birds are singing, and leaves are appearing. The air is cleaner, and the sky is clear. It’s easy to forget that the world continues to turn but this situation too will pass like many that have gone before. Let’s take this chance to connect with the ground and get growing. I often write about the power in such tiny seeds and the image of an acorn turning into a towering oak is never far from my mind! With a little nurturing, sunshine and water we too will all bloom. Take care everyone.

By Vanessa Goldbert
4th April
The Gardening Year
A sunflower

Sunflowers on my mind this weekend, especially because I was invited to share a Facebook group to plant hope and sunflowers everywhere we can, and which, with sunshine, rain and some tlc, will flower by late summer... and by this time we hope to be free of this shadow.

It seems 21st century life has thrown us a hand grenade! Our children worry we've ruined our planet. Science must overcome this global disaster. Are we up for it? Are we strong? Seeds of love and community are all around us, we just need to believe in ourselves again.

We’ve been asked to keep safe and social distance; how can we refuse. If you need hope to brighten the darkness, plant sunflowers and share your snaps. Above all, stay safe. The Southsea Green garden will be closed to the public for a while, but rest assured our fabulous volunteers will keep it going!

By Sue Stokes
28th March
Daisies made into a heart shape

We’ve had some glorious spring days this week. Those days when you step outside, feel the warmth of the sun on your face, a slight breeze around you and the birds are singing without a care in the world. These are the days we live for as gardeners, the perfect sowing and planting days, dry and bright and no need for wearing lots of layers! As the buds really start to appear on the fruit trees and the hedgerows fill and green once again our hearts fill with excitement about the seasons ahead. Even in these uncertain times, nature knows what she’s doing and we must trust in her well rehearsed ways. Spring is arriving each morning, it would be such a shame to miss it! Get outside and enjoy this especially wonderful season. The sun will shine, the rain will fall but we’ll surely be able to weather it all. Be good to one another.

By Vanessa Goldbert
21st March
New tomatoes grown from January

Gardening is continually learning something new. Back in January I sowed tomato seeds with my nephew Huxley, something I wouldn’t normally do until late February or perhaps March. As it turns out this early gamble paid off, the plants are growing strongly and look rather superb! Trial and error is often the way with the garden, but that’s also where the value in it lies for many of us.

The willingness to try without certainty, to take the time to learn, discover and wonder is often what it’s all about. We can be scientific, changing one variable at a time and discovering what works in a systematic way, perhaps seed variety or indeed planting time, wondering why we didn’t do it that way before! So go with it, go forward and try doing something differently, embrace the new and enjoy the journey. Southsea Green welcomes you to learn alongside us, be a part of our growing community.

By Vanessa Goldbert
14th March

Hail the sunshine and the Spring weather as our team of volunteers here at the Southsea Green Community garden plan an extension to our Herbal and Sensory garden where we began planting and growing such plants in a large wooden cartwheel. My own contribution, grown in my home garden, being that of the Sempervivumes, commonly known as House Leeks are hardy succulent perennials.

Their other pet name is “hen and chicks ' as many new roots sprout and cling to the mother plant.

Tight leaves form as a rosette and contain a malic acid which can be used as medicine with the juice, when applied directly to the skin can be used for burns, ulcers, itchy skin and insect bites, is a diuretic and astringent. The bruised leaves when applied to the forehead and temples is said to assist sleeping.

Consultation with Wendy Budd the Albert Road Herbal Apothecary is in progress as advisory for more such suitable plants to grow.

By Irene Strange
7th March
Previous Articles »