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After a long winter the sun came out to play

Dalston was buzzing with the Barbican’s magical Dalston House installation. The Garden overflowed with people sunbathing, relaxing on beanbags, picnicking, listening to music and drinking lots of refreshing mint tea and ice cold lemonade from the cafÊ.

Plants and wildlife were the inspiration for 36 child and 14 adult workshops. Hackney artists shared their skills and techniques to help hundreds of people create amazing pieces like the ‘Botanical Sun’ prints. Giant pompoms, beanbags, bird feeders and lanterns were just a few of the creations made by visitors and displayed in the space. Right now we’re developing our 2014 creative programme which you’ll hear about shortly.

A creative hub inspired by nature

We built on the Garden’s award winning design All funds for day-to-day upkeep and improvements come from the café and donations. In 2013 we made some great additions to the space. We created our new café kiosk, revamped the bathroom, installed a beautiful cedar wood greenhouse and made the Pineapple House even more cosy by adding water, electricity and a lovely wood-burning stove. In 2014 we have plans for more improvements so please keep buying your hot chocolates, soups and cakes from the café to make this possible!

The Eastern Curve Gardeners met every Saturday afternoon from April until November and volunteers from HILT gardened every Thursday come rain or shine. Special growing projects included bee-friendly planting, experimenting with flowers for cutting and for eating. The tulips and other bulbs were the year’s botanical stars, with over 1500 Spring-flowering bulbs on display. Thanks to the De Beauvoir Gardeners who helped to fund this. Volunteer gardeners are needed year round: if you’d like to help please sign up online.

Volunteer gardeners helped to make the Garden more beautiful than ever

The Chelsea Flower Show came to Dalston

Over three weeks in May and June, the Garden’s annual Dalston Flower Show offered up workshops, displays, talks and tastings, as part of the Chelsea Fringe. Working with Hackney businesses, visitors tasted flowers with Pretty Delicious and learnt about English flowers with the Flower Appreciation Society. We were delighted to have a visit from the Pothole Gardener to judge the ‘best in show’ miniature gardens made by local children.

Joining forces with local organisations and businesses, we took a taste of our neighbourhood to the V&A Museum for a one night Dalston Takeover. Bird-feeders, gargoyles, scarecrows and flower-filled Ridley Road fruit crates all made by adults and children, brought Dalston’s creativity to the heart of the Museum. Over 100 V&A visitors made Festival of Light jam jar lanterns in a workshop, which came back to Dalston to light up the Garden on summer nights.

And we took the best of Dalston to the V&A

We served up music for those balmy summer nights Our regular music evenings helped to make the Garden as popular by night as by day from May to September. We ran weekly acoustic nights in partnership with Woodburner. With the Nest Collective, we hosted five evenings of music and storytelling around a roaring campfire. And two highlights were us becoming a destination for the SoundTracks Festival and a fundraising night for Oxjam with .

To kick off the annual Festival of Light, we ran a two day pumpkin carving marathon, with over 150 wacky creations being lit up at the Sunday night show. Supported by Hackney Council, X children and X adults took part in workshops creating jam jar, paper bag and giant paper mache lanterns. These beautiful creations welcomed visitors to the Dalston Square Christmas Fair. Finally for 13 late ‘Light Nights’ the Garden was illuminated by all of the lanterns en masse and the little greenhouse was transformed into a giant coloured lightbox.

The Festival of Light warmed us up as the nights drew in

A community meeting place

Twice a week we ran ‘natural play’ and outdoor cooking activities with Trinity Centre After School Club in November and December. Activities included flat bread making and cookie decorating and we’ll continue this pilot in 2014. City and Hackney Carers were just one of many groups to enjoy a day out at the Garden, with a ‘pamper picnic day’ accompanied by a harpist. We helped Hackney Learning Trust to deliver the borough’s first ever weekly ‘English for Speakers of other Languages’ lessons combined with gardening. We’re working with local teachers to develop even more outdoor learning opportunities in 2014 and the Garden will continue to serve as a focal point for community gatherings. Please contact us if you would like to bring a group or host an event.

While Hackney Food Growers Kitchen and The Organic Café supplied us with goodies for the café, the East London Brewery, London Glider Cider and lemons from Ridley Road Market kept the drinks flowing. By working with local partners, we offered several outdoor cookery workshops. Rita’s Dining brought their famous waffles, Hackney’s own Food Busker instructed Hackney Carers and the Peoples Kitchen ran regular community cook ups. And of course veg bags from Growing Communities were picked up from the Garden, not forgetting the seasonal demos they ran for us.

Well fed and watered by local producers

And finally some very special guests came to stay… While a cacophony of ‘sonic’ birds arrived in an interactive audio installation Hortus by artists Christophe de Boeck and Patricia Portela, real beaks and feathers were displayed in the ‘Birds of Prey’ Day in October. The world of plants intrigued and delighted with giant sun-flowers and the show-stopping ‘Tromboncino’ Squash. And of course Stanley the cat came to live at the Garden, his own blog is coming soon…

Wrap up doc  
Wrap up doc