As we sign off for 2022 and look forward to 2023, we would like to thank all our volunteers and donors for their support throughout the past year. As most of you perhaps know, Abundance is run by volunteers, and essentially self-funded from the community. Particular thanks to Mark Wardell for our website, and the main Abundance officers, Karen Wyatt and Steve Nutt for sterling work on bank liaison, technical assistance, butterfly attaching and other hidden but essential tasks.

Abundance looks after about 15 pocket parks around Chiswick, little corners that had fallen through the cracks of council or other owners’ care, turning them from fly-tipped squalor into little spaces of beauty and biodiversity. We also run art projects, such as creating the Timeline Mural under the railway bridges at Turnham Green Terrace, the Butterfly Wall on the ex-police station, the W4th Plinth Art Project, and the Platinum Jubilee posters along the High Road shops (this one is partnership with art school Make + Paint). We work in partnership with schools, businesses, parks’ Friends groups, other community organisations, councils (Hounslow, Ealing), Chiswick Flower Market, Hounslow Highways and TfL to create some of our best projects.

This year we also became a (tiny) grant-awarding organisation, offering funding to local groups and schools to create wildlife-friendly areas. More details below.

If you would like to support us with a small regular direct debit, this enables us to plan ahead and do more. Please get in touch on info@abundancelondon.com if you want to know more. There is a donate button on our website if you are considering a one-off sum. We were very grateful to receive a substantial donation from Peter and Katherine Evans for a specific garden, paying for thousands of bulbs on one of our new spaces, Beaconsfield Gardens.

If you want to join our active general work group, sign up here and send in your phone number to be added to our WhatsApp group and get the call-up.

2022 was a year when the big dogs failed to agree any meaningful Climate Change solutions, the COP15 Biodiversity Conference set some ambitious but vague targets, and the UK’s Environmental Audit Committee accused the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of “endemic delay” on air, water and biodiversity targets. Meanwhile the number of insects is plummeting at perilous rates, the areas covered by concrete and other hard landscaping is making serious flooding in our area ever more likely, and even the number of earthworms is reported to have fallen by a third in the UK over the past few years. These might sound trivial but they are the bases of our lives on this planet. So we can either despair, or do whatever we can at a micro-local level to support nature, plant pollinator-friendly flowers, look after our trees, try to make our urban area as green as possible. (We can, of course, do both!)

Meanwhile, we wish you a Happy Christmas and seasons greetings.

Karen and the Abundance team

New signs drying. Painted by Tanya Saunders (thank you!)

Quick round up of Abundance London Activities 2022

New gardens

In addition to the existing gardens which Abundance volunteers continue to maintain we were able to create several new gardens:

Alison’s Wood, a woodland area in Acton Common, was substantially completed, in partnership with Ealing Council and Alison Wood’s family. This includes around thirty new trees, shrubs, woodland flowers, a range of hibernacula (winter hiding places for wildlife), spring bulbs, two benches, and a plaque in Alison’s memory. Special birdboxes are on their way. This woodland area will be maintained by Ealing parks department, with Alison’s family.

Beaconsfield Gardens is an exciting new space (for us) on Acton Lane, behind the petrol station, which has yet to show signs of the huge amount of very challenging work that went into it in October and November, led by Jen Thorndycraft. 6,000 spring bulbs were planted into what turned out to be a vile rubble-field. Dead saplings were removed and new trees planted. A gap in the fence (the Evans Gap, in honour of the bulb funder!) was opened at each end to allow easy pedestrian access, and the central fence gap repaired. The grass is to be left to grow long, with a gentle path mown through the meadow. There are plans for wildflower plants to be added. As soon as the weather is dry for more than half an hour the low fence will be painted. A new local group has been set up to look after the area. If you would like to join the WhatsApp group (first job, fence painting), send in your phone number.

Oliver Close off Thames Road is another new garden that has yet to reveal its new colours. Residents cleared tonnes of gravel, old membrane and weeds to create two new beds on either side of their road entrance. Abundance supplied plants and funding, and we look forward to seeing the garden begin to bloom in 2023.

A4 junction Methodist Church bed. A Duke of Edinburgh student, Isaac (with help from his father), created a lovely dry wall bed along the outside of the church. This involved surprisingly challenging work to dig out the rubble, but has been an outstanding success with the student continuing to water through the draught.

Cherrygate, the ludicrous ‘battle’ over trees in Turnham Green, was finally resolved – two years late – with the planting up of the gaps in the cherry tree avenue. Abundance volunteers helped the Friends of TG to plant thousands of spring bulbs on the Green, as part of Tom Stuart-Smith’s designs to improve the biodiversity and beauty of the Green. We look forward to seeing this space flourish under a reinvigorated Friends’ group.

Gardeners World on BBC TV
We were delighted to welcome the BBC’s flagship television gardening programme to film a selection of our gardens in June and help promote the idea of creating pocket gardens elsewhere. They looked mainly at our Turnham Green Terrace perennial bed, the woodland corner on the A4, the Tarmac Garden on Fauconberg Road, the Bridge Garden on Sutton Court Road, and the A4 church bed, and were very appreciative of our volunteers’ efforts in very challenging situations. Karen also got a big profile in Gardens Illustrated magazine, mainly based on her Abundance work.

Abundance gave financial grants to Southfields School and East Acton Primary School to create wildlife and veg gardens in their school grounds. We were also able to fund several new gardens, detailed above. And of course pay for ongoing insurance, equipment, plants, trees, etc.

Fruit harvesting
This progressed seamlessly with a new WhatsApp group under the leadership of Laurence Game. We harvested tonnes of fruit and although we were no longer able to work with local schools as in the past (the season has become much earlier over the past decade meaning schools are on holiday for most of the harvest time) we held another very successful fruit pressing at the September Flower Market, offering gallons of free apple juice to passersby. We also donated lots of surplus fruit to local food banks, care homes and refugee organisations.

The W4th Plinth was opened for new submissions. This is the large changing artwork on the railway embankment above the Turnham Green Terrace piazza area. Closing date is midnight on 31 December. Already hundreds of new applications have been received, but it’s not too late to get your application in, here.

We were able to keep the Butterfly Wall in place on the ex-Police Station for nearly a whole year. This had been our aim when we installed it in October 2021, but the Met Police HQ asked us to remove it after barely a fortnight. We stuck to our guns, and the new owners of the building, Birchgrove, kindly let us leave it in place until September 2022. Most of the butterflies were then returned to their creators via the local schools, and a Lucky Dip sale of others provided some additional funds for Abundance. A few hundred have been retained and will go up as part of a new mural in Harvard Hill Park in 2023.

Most of the Chiswick schools participated in a competition run by Make+Paint with Abundance support and Hounslow Council’s Summer of Culture funding to create Platinum Jubilee posters based around the Queen’s head stamp to decorate the High Road shops for the Jubilee weekend. The best entrants won funding for their schools art department to encourage more art and creativity.

So a busy year all round. We look forward to more fun stuff in 2023, kicking off with the W4th Plinth shortlisting and a bit of tree planting…

Best wishes

Karen & the Abundance Team

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