Standing with my two feet firmly stationed on the brick walls of the raised bed, I bend down, grab the underside of the large root ball and lift a sage plant high up into my arms, dirt loosening and crumbling down beneath it. The herb has reached shrub like proportions and I can barely see around its woody stems as I cradle its mass against my chest. As I jump carefully down onto the station platform, the leaves crush against my face and I get a beautiful hit of aroma, reminding me of Sunday roasts. As I carry my load towards its new home in the herb bed a train pulls into the station. The doors open with the familiar whoosh and people emerge from inside, umbrellas popping open into the air above their heads. The other gardening volunteers, busy digging, sowing and planting look up and laugh at the image of me traipsing down the platform, heaving a massive shrub and covered in mud, surrounded by Sunday train travellers.
It’s a rainy afternoon at Kilburn station but we, the “Kilburn Station Planters”, have big plans for the community garden on the platform and we’re intent on braving the increasing levels of mud. Founded six years ago by members of Transition Town Kensal to Kilburn, the station garden is completely open to the public and consists of four raised beds filled with edible plants, available to be harvested by passers-by.
Our plans today are to create a more structured theme for each of the beds. There will be one bed for herbs, one for fruit and vegetables, one for foraging plants and one for ‘tea’ plants (i.e. plants you can make infusions out of such as camomile, yarrow and echinacea). This garden revamp includes gently moving existing plants from one bed to another as well as introducing completely new plants to the mix. With a wonderful turn out of new volunteers to help, we plant chives, lavender, rhubarb and thyme. We also sow spinach, nasturtiums, marigolds and sunflowers and we transplant garlic mustard, strawberries and Jerusalem artichoke tubers. We note that the lemon balm and valerian are doing well in the tea bed and that the almond tree has come into blossom, its pale pink flowers opened to the torrential rain.
We take a short break and huddle, mud splattered and hair plastered to our heads, in the little station kitchen. Sharing some homemade pastries and cups of tea we chat cosily about the garden and the local area. We outline future plans such as tea making workshops, where we would harvest leaves from the station ‘tea bed’. We also discuss getting some signs put into the garden to inform the public of the new planting themes.
Getting back to the job at hand we’re interrupted by a woman about to get on a train. She tells us that she is so grateful for the work that we do, that seeing the plants and flowers is the highlight of her daily commute to work. We’re all heartened by this feedback, to know that we’re not only enriching our lives by volunteering for the group but are enriching the lives of our local community.
Soon enough the job is done for the day. There will be more new plantings over the coming months but the majority of the changes have been completed and we’re all thrilled. As I firm the sage plant down into its new home, knowing that the rain will settle its roots into the soil, I look across the station, reviewing the four raised beds. They have that fresh look of all newly planted gardens, a ‘just wait and see’ storing of energy, ready to burst into verdant lush life.
To get involved come and join us at Kilburn Jubilee line Station on the first Sunday of the month from 11am-12:30. No need to oyster in, just sign in at the station office, telling them you’re there to garden.
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