Trimming the beech hedge at Crabtree Fields

Beech hedge.

Beech (Fagus sylvatica) hedge has been trimmed to promote density for wildlife habitat.

Friends have this winter trimmed the large beech hedge in Crabtree Fields. We reduced the height of the hedge by about 30 cm and gave the sides a light trim to encourage thickness.

Volunteers used hand tools and the work was done over a couple of weeks in February. It will need a further trim at the end of August. If clipped it doesn’t shed its leaves, and provides a year-round dense screen, which provides a great habitat for garden birds.

Beech is native to Britain and makes an important habitat for many butterflies. Its foliage is eaten by the caterpillars of a number of moths, including the barred hook-tip, clay triple-lines and olive crescent. The seeds are eaten by mice, voles, squirrels and birds.

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Snowdrops, daffodils and a new hawthorn tree in Crabtree Fields

Snowdrops and wild daffodils.

Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) and wild daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) are blooming in Crabtree Fields.

Spring is on its way in Fitzrovia’s open spaces. The Friends planted a number of different woodland-floor flowers last year and the first of those are blooming now.

Snowdrops have been out for a couple of weeks and daffodils are starting to bloom. Expect to see more surprises popping up later this spring.

Semi-mature tree.

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) planted this week in Crabtree Fields.

Camden Council has also planted a semi-mature hawthorn tree this week to replace a rowan that was removed last year. Hawthorn is an important native tree and supports a variety of wildlife as well as having an attractive early spring blossom with a delicate scent.

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Those wildflowers that didn’t die in June’s drought are now starting to bloom. But please don’t pick them


Corncockle (Agrostemma githago) was nearly extinct ten years ago but is now flowering on the streets of Fitzrovia as part of a project supported by Kew Gardens.

Pictured is the second of our corncockle flowers to bloom as part of our Grow Wild project supported by Kew Gardens.

The first to bloom was on Friday morning and was promptly stolen by the afternoon. A shame because around 90 percent of the wildflowers we planted died in early June due to the dry weather.

But these beautiful native blooms have responded to our now daily watering regime and rewarding our efforts.

Ten years’ ago corncockle (Agrostemma githago) was extremely scarce and in 2014 a BBC news report said there was only a single example in the whole of the UK.

We hope our green-fingered thief doesn’t return and make it extinct in our street again. Or perhaps it wasn’t a thief but a concerned citizen who had been reading the Telegraph and thinks we are trying to poison people ­čśÄ.

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Some colour and some scented wildlife-friendly additions to Whitfield Gardens

a tray of scented wildflower plugs.

Ten species of native wildflowers:┬átansy, evening primrose, sweet cicely, lemon balm, hyssop, English bluebell, lady’s bedstraw, meadowsweet, lawn camomile, and anise hyssop.

Our Saturday morning gardening club has been busy over the last two Saturdays cleaning and planting in Whitfield Gardens.

Our main aim has been to plant native shrubs and wildflowers but we’ve also added a few cheap and cheerful plants to give the gardens a bit of instant colour.

We’ve added ten different types of scented native wildflower “plugs”: tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), evening primrose (Oenothera biennis), sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), English bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), lady’s bedstraw (Galium verum), meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), lawn camomile (Anthemis nobilis), and anise hyssop (Agastache anethiodora).

These smell nice, give an attractive display when they bloom, and also boost the biodiversity of the garden.


Viola and marigold brighten up a busy corner area of Whitfield Gardens.

On some sunny corners we’ve planted some viola and marigold. We’ve no idea what species or sub-species these are but they brighten up the gardens. They are pretty close to some well-trodden patches so we’ll see how long they’ll survive. Whitfield Gardens gets thousands of people passing through every day as it is very near Goodge Street tube station and next to a bus stop.

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Why are there piles of leaves and clippings left on the ground in Whitfield Gardens?

Garden waste on ground.

Future investment. Garden waste makes good compost.

“Why are there piles of dead leaves and bits of plants left on the ground? It makes the park look untidy. Can’t you take them away?”

This is a question someone asked us recently, and there is a simple answer.

Removing the fallen leaves and cuttings from garden maintenance requires someone to bag them them up and take them away, usually in a truck and then they are disposed of elsewhere. Obviously this is bad for the environment but it is also a waste of time and money and it also starves the gardens of valuable nutrients that should be returned to the soil.

Leaving the dead leaves and cuttings in piles and allowing them to decompose has both less of a negative environmental impact and allows nature to do its job of continuing the lifecycle. Woody pieces left in piles are also valuable as they attract insects that are eaten by birds.

It may not look tidy, but leaving piles of dead vegetation to decompose is cheaper, less environmentally harmful and is better for the soil.

The only thing that should be removed from the public open space is the rubbish that people leave there.

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Join our Saturday morning gardening club this summer

Native deciduous and evergreen shrubs.

Some small improvements to Whitfield Gardens. Newly planted: Oak, English (Quercus robur), Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), Hawthorn, common (Crataegus monogyna), Maple, field (Acer campestre), Hazel (Corylus avellana), Cherry, wild (Prunus avium), Dog rose (Rosa canina), Holly (Ilex aquifolium).

Volunteers from the Friends group will be getting together for an hour each Saturday morning starting this month to clean, trim and water Whitfield Gardens on the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Tottenham Street. Continue reading

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Saturday morning clean up and wildflower planting in Whitfield Gardens

Volunteers from the Friends group spent an hour cleaning and planting in one part of Whitfield Gardens this Saturday morning.

Hedges and shrubs in front of mural.

A difficult to get at area at the foot of the Fitzrovia Mural was given a spring clean ahead of planting native wildflowers to help pollinators, and to give a colourful display this summer.

The volunteers did a “community clean up” and worked with Camden Council’s contractors Veolia and idverde. On a rainy morning the Friends cleared a bin bag full of rubbish at the foot of the Fitzrovia Mural.

We used rakes and shovels to clear away some difficult to get at rubbish. It’s not a perfect job — we’d need a vacuum cleaner for all the fag butts — but it looks better than it did before.

The Friends also tried out Camden Council’s Clean Camden app┬áto get dumped objects removed. We had mixed results as two contractors are responsible for Whitfield Gardens and so some reports had to be passed on and the rubbish removed later.

After the clean up the Friends planted wildflowers: Corn Chamomile (Anthemis arvensis), Corn Cockle (Agrostemma githago), Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus), Corn Marigold (Chrysanthemum segetum), and Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas). These support bees, butterflies and other pollinators and are recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) as “Perfect for Pollinators”. They will give attractive display from late May through to October.

If you want to join our regular clean up and planting days, please contact us and we’ll keep you informed.

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