Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Lambeth Palace and the Church Times Green Church Awards

Come with me to Lambeth Palace, London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It's 16th October 2017 and I and my friend Poppy are going to the Church Times Green Church Awards as I had been shortlisted for one

Lambeth Palace is on the opposite side of the Thames to  Westminster and the Houses of Parliament. 

I am standing on Vauxhall Bridge, looking north, downstream, having taken the Victoria Line Tube to Vauxhall Station . You can see the wall of the gardens on the right.  

It is warm and sunny with clear skies at 10am.  Little do I know that by 2pm the sky will be orange brown with dust from the Sahara and from Portuguese fires brought by the remains of Storm Ophelia.

I had come down by train via Lancaster yesterday evening and stayed at St Pancras Youth Hostel.

We enter through Morton's Tower and once inside the grounds have a view of the palace, past 500 year old fig trees on the left, with huge leaves. Ahead you can see the door of the palace.

(Judith) standing on the doorstop of the palace,
complete with rucksack and trainers. I (along with four others) had been shortlisted for the Green Champion award

Old fig trees

We have coffee and meet a host of guests.. I am pleased to recognise a good number of old friends

We assemble for the awards ceremony. I'll write about that later
I walk round the garden twice. - Once quickly with Brother Hugh (of Hilfield Friary) before the meal, and once leisurely afterwards, taking photographs.

There is a herb garden. We crush some leaves and smell them  -  musing over the possible names of the plants, along with a gentleman from Hymns Ancient & Modern.  Later I met Sabina the gardener who tell me their names. She is one of the three paid gardeners, but they also have 20 volunteers. They are trying to add plants that would have been cultivated here when the monks looked after the gardens long ago.  The garden at Lambeth Palace has been a private garden since the 12th century - and it's the oldest continuously cultivated garden in London...

Not Lavendar, not Curry plant - but Santolina.

This plant above with a strong smell when crushed is  Santolina (chamaecyparissus?) - Sometimes known as Cotton Lavender- from the Mediterranean. It is related to Chamomile.  It likes dry sandy soil . (From Wikipedia: "It is  a small  evergreen  shrub  growing  to  50 cm (20 in)  tall  and  broad.  Densely covered in narrow, aromatic, grey-green leaves, in summer it produces masses of yellow, button-like composite flower heads, held on slender stems above the foliage. The disc florets are tubular, and there are no ray florets.")

There is also a variety/species of Santolina with bright green leaves.

Below is "Curry Plant" Helichrysum italicum, another member of the Daisy family. and below that, Hyssop

Sabina shows me Hyssop  Hyssopus officianlis
It is used for many things - antiseptic - medicinal. It has blue flowers and is a member of the mint tribe, in the Labiate family.

The hyssop mentioned in the bible is much more likely to be the caper plant ezov   (or it could even be, possibly, wild marjoram)
As a non-Londoner I am intrigued by the fruit of the London Plane, Platanus acerifolia.

Wikipedia (Oct 2017) says:- The species was formed by hybridization in the 17th century after P. orientalis and P. occidentalis had been planted in proximity to one another. It is often claimed that the hybridization took place in Spain, but it could also have happened in Vauxhall Gardens  in London where John Tradescant the  Younger  discovered the tree in the mid-17th century.[4][5]
 P. orientalis: The native range is Eurasia from the Balkans to at least as far east as Iran, maybe even to the Himalayas
P. occidentalis - American Sycamore - in America. More about the three species here.

See history in London here  The leaves remove pollutants from the air.



It wouldn't be one of my web posts if I couldn't bring lichens in somehow.. 

I had to look VERY hard to find any on the trees - trunks or branches.  Below is some Phaeophyscia orbicularis on a maple trunk. Elsewhere I saw a little sad looking Xanthoria parietina  and a little Hyperphyscia adglutinata- All of these are lichens that grow where there is deposition of nitrogen compounds from the air. The car fumes in central London are concentrated.
Well they do say that 10,000 people die each year in London due to air pollution.. (much of it NO2 and diesel particles from the traffic). 
Actually it is on the twigs that we should start to hope to find more lichens  now that we are no longer producing smoke and sulphur dioxide from coal fires. - the bark of old trunks have absorbed so much soot and acid from sulphur dioxide in the past that it is difficult for young lichens to get going..
(There were also some lichens on the stone and cement work.)

Read more about lichens .. at  St James Park - just 6 days ago . less than 1km away, .. 1/2 mile away as the pigeon flies. 
And see the proposal to make London into a City National Park - 47% percent of London is actually green- though the map shows it is more in the suburbs than at the centre.

Phaeophyscia orbicularis (very tiny - it is an enlarged picture)

Wildlife:  Can you see the squirrel at the bottom right of the picture below, sitting up on its back legs?

Here it is with the picture enlarged

When I approach, it runs up the tree.

At the far end of the garden is a big, big hole.. Builders have been very busy digging. "Must be for a pond," Hugh and I knowledgeably decide. 

Totally wrong. We are not very observant. Sabina tells me later that there are plans to build a new library for the palace here - but first the archaeologists have been excavating.  They have found loom weights used for holding down the warp  when weaving.

Near the netting was this plant - 

Ah, at last, a presumably wild plant.. Certainly one that has been growing in this country for 1000s of years.  Black Nightshade  Solanum nigrum- It can be poisonous, but it also had medicinal and herbal uses.

Bee Hives

One plant benefitting from the strange orange light


Listen to 4 min clip of Bishop Nick Holtam on Radio 4 Sunday Worship 3 Sept 2017 that was based on The Garden at Lambeth Palace - "Reinventing Eden"

Oh yes, and the reason we're here..

Using the steps for our photo:-

Celebrating Care of Creation Activities .. on the steps of the Palace

It's the Church Times Green Church Awards Ceremony on 16 Oct 2017 with Bishop Nick Holtam of Salisbury in the centre

By highlighting some of the best projects, the paper hopes to set good examples before others who might be inspired to follow suit.
Short listed groups and winners - photo credit: KT Bruce / Church Times

Find out what the groups did at the Church Times

In the end they split the Green Champions Award between the five of us shortlisted people so we all won one. Thank You!!!!

 Here are Posts from other short listed and winning groups and people: (To be added to)
Seed of Hope -Taunton: mental health & gardening - green futures category

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