Keeping The Lights On - Week 9

24 May 2020

Hello again,

As I'm sure many are already aware, this past week has been Mental Health Awareness Week around the country. The idea of the occasion is to raise awareness of mental health issues nationally, and to promote open and uninhibited discussion of what is still quite a difficult subject.

The theme of the week this year was kindness - and the garden got into the spirit with a week of at-home and online activities which can be found by clicking here.

We hope people have enjoyed taking part - it's been great to receive positive feedback and see some of the ways you've got involved. Below are a few pictures of cakes which have been baked for neighbours and the local foodbank, as well as a submission from a brave soul who has taken on Paul's Lockdown Leftover Seed Challenge by attempting to grow a new plant from a sweet potato - good luck little potato!

With summer on the way, the garden is really starting to grow at a pace - and we know many of our members are wondering when we will be open again. Getting members back into the garden is our top priority, but we want to be sure we can do so in a way that will be as safe as possible for everyone. We are working on it, please keep an eye on our Facebook and website homepages for any updates. We will also be contacting everyone on our mailing list once firm dates are in place.

I'm looking forward to seeing you all again soon - in the meantime enjoy the lovely weather we're having, and you can always reach us at 01795 539915 or

- Tom.

Fabulous Flatbreads

Karen of the Faversham Community Kitchen has uploaded another cooking video to our YouTube channel. Click on the image to watch this short and simple step-by-step guide to making delicious warm flatbreads: the perfect accompaniment to, well, anything really!

Tired Tulips

Paul's 90 Seconds' Gardening series on the garden's Youtube Channel is fast becoming a repository of seasonal gardening advice. Your springtime tulips may be looking tired by the end of May - click on the image to watch and see how to make sure they come back strong next year.

Singing of Swarms

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Lissie put together this special edition of her weekly relaxation and singing videos. It's a very appropriate choice given the exciting bee-related news below: 'The Bee Song'! Click on the image to watch.

Broody Bluetits

If you stand near the cabin and listen carefully you might just catch the faint sound of chirping. That's because a family of bluetits have moved in to the birdbox mounted on the wall. The adult birds can be seen busily flying to and from the box to feed the hungry chicks inside.

Homely Hives

As promised in the last update - exciting beekeeping news! Our lovingly refurbished hives have been now moved into the garden itself full-time, at a new site near the polytunnel. And they're not the only ones, one of the two hives is already home to a colony of bees, caught in the wild and generously donated to the garden by local beekeeper Steve. Click on the image to watch as Steve introduces the bees to their new home.

Finally, a very special contribution to what I'm seriously considering calling Tom's Poetry Corner: the first submission by one of our very own members. Posted this week in our members' WhatsApp group, a poem from Martyn, inspired by the Physic Garden itself.

Do you have a poetic side too? Would you like to share it with your fellow members? Please send me some lines at

The Abbey Physic Community Garden

by Martyn


I was suffering depression due to being stressed,
So I went for a walk after getting myself dressed.
I had no plan where to go that day. I just followed my nose and went that way.
I went up a road and into an alley. I was walking fast as I didn’t want to dally.

I was only passing by accident this way. I had no plans to stop or delay.
But I suddenly stopped by this door looking in at this amazing display,
What I saw was a delight I really must say. A magical, secret walled garden one doesn’t see every day.
I would never have seen it if the door had been closed, but I saw this garden fully exposed.

This beautiful garden I look at in awe, just from peering through the wooden black door.
And for a moment I stood there wondering, should I go in and explore,
Or as its late afternoon was it too late to adour, but I took a step forward and walked through the door.
I’d never been in this garden before.

It was then that I saw a sign so friendly, welcoming me to this heavenly beauty,
For not only did it say “Welcome to all,” but behind it were trees and shrubs growing tall.
Two sparrows flew in answering their chick’s frantic call. A blackbird landed going after worms by a wall.
And in the trees I could hear birds chirping away, which was so lovely to hear on this fine sunny day.

It felt so peaceful as I’d walked through the gate, into the garden, which looked so sedate.
Still hoping it wasn’t closing and I was going to be too late.
What brought me here I do not know, but I wonder if it was fate.
The sky was so blue, the garden so bright. I had a feeling that this place was just right!

There seemed so much beauty here to mentally collate, and as a keen gardener I could easily relate.
But looking around there was no debate, this garden is something my mind could replicate.
This place of peace gave me a welcomed abate from being so stressed and in a bit of a state.
And from this release I felt myself happy and no longer depressed. My depression now firmly at rest.

I was greeted suddenly with a cheery “Welcome!” by a stranger,
In this place I could see no danger and all I wanted was to meander.
“Feel free to wonder our beautiful garden!” with a smile the stranger said,
“And while passing go look at our beautiful rose bed.”

So I did and my heart began to gladden.
This garden today just had to happen.
The roses, their fragrance just filled the air,
Their colours and appearance so lovely and fair.

I lost myself in the flowers and shrubs,
The trees, the vines and all the vegetable tubs,
All the variation imaginable,
Little did I realise this was all charitable.

The fragrance of roses flowing on wind,
The fragrance of flowers that did not recind.
The smell of camomile, mint and even fresh air,
The sight of trees such as apple and pear.

I followed a path to a pond with lilies and stood by a dead hedge where a vine with grape, did drape.
I am so pleased I walked through that garden gate for now I don’t feel so desolate a state.
The scent of fragrances fills the air and all I can do is sit down and stare,
How wonderfully designed this garden has been with such a touch of artistic flair.

With Fruit on the bush and grapes on the vine this garden is so divine.
Such a lovely place I’m sure in the summer sunshine and sitting here listening to the local church bells chime.
And suddenly as I walk round a corner a gravel path I spy twisting like the Serpentine,
Just by this path I come across a giant Trombone Squash lying on the soil supine.

As I walk the gravel path leading me to a sensory area for the visually impaired.
I can see it’s cultured with the utmost of care and the gentle crunch of the gravel leads me past lavender there.
The camomile lawn spreading out with bench in the middle, where once people stood in a huddle,
Waiting patiently for the open pit fires to cook sausages on the griddle.

The Mulberry tree in its prime reminds me of a famous nursery rhyme.
The herb garden with mint, rosemary and thyme, all these sensations take me back in time.
In the background there’s a gentle sound from a wind chime and I see a row of small lights set out in a line.
What a wonderful way to spend the daytime. Oh I do wish this garden was mine!

Is that a Sambucus Nigra I see with its dark leaves and light blossom producing black elderberry?
Almonds I’m surprised to see and yes I now know that they come from a tree.
I’ve seen several of these in this garden and in September the Almonds will be due which fills me with glee.
A quince tree also grows and produces fruit in November which must be picked if we can remember.

My sense of hearing abounds taking in all the sounds, the chimes, the birds flying around.
And my sense of sight takes in this colourful delight with flowers so colourful and bright.
My sense of touch allow me to feel the Mulberry leaf so rough and the camomile lawn soft to the touch.
Being here I’m on sensory overload strangely enough.

The Bee hives in the garden are a wonderful sight,
Sitting by the wall all wooden and white.
The Honey Bees coming and going afar,
Looking for pollen to make honey that can be put in a jar.

With lavender and camomile, trees with fruit, it’s just got the lot,
Impressive are the raised beds and the Hügelkultur plot. Little signs tell me what things are in case I forgot.
Even a small pot boot tucked under the Bay tree attracting the little Honey Bee.
It is now I see the large marquee with tables and chairs to sit to relax on while I drink a well deserved tea.

As I sit here I think of the functions and parties the garden can hold,
Perhaps I can ask them if I can be so bold, a function here in this wonderful garden to hold,
Perhaps I can bring friends and family in to this garden to embrace.
With its backdrop of the old grammar school set it’s also a place where I’m sure people have met.

We’ll bring in a band to play music to all and place them next to the olde Grammar school wall.
And in the marquee we’ll light candles to shine and drink a toast to the garden in water and wine.
I’m sure some music will be divine especially at night in the pale moonshine.
Well I haven’t all day now that I’ve looked at the marquee as I still have a lot of the garden to see.

As I day dream wondering around there is so much to see growing out the ground.
I wonder if this is my lot, but no now I see plants coming out of a very large pot.
Where ever there’s a space something grows in the soil. I wonder how hard the staff has to toil.
Their efforts abound everywhere you look. It makes me want to sit down and start writing a book!

I now come to a part of my tour where I see a vegetable patch so lovingly cared for.
It stretches over the garden with so much to see. Beans, onions, lettuce, beetroot and pea,
Rhubarb, apples and even ugly fruit too, Tomatoes and chillies to name but a few.
To Columbian maze growing so high it seems to reach right up to the sky.

A garden kitchen use these vegetables sought, when ready for picking to the kitchen they are brought.
Once cleaned and chopped and they are cooked on site only served when the temperature is right.
The soups they make I’m told are a delight as well as the bread and deserts a score of 100% outright.
Apparently midday meals can be bought and a better place I could not have sought.

The kitchen it uses vegetables from the garden and I’m told these make a wonderful soup.
And they even have eggs now from a marvellous chicken coup.
Honey from Bees and fruit from the trees, how easy it is for this garden to please.
And the smell of the bread wafts over a pagoda, I hear people talking about people doing Saturday Yoga!

And as I wonder around surrounded by this flora.
I feel calm settling me like a descending aurora, releasing the plethora of weight that I carried,
No longer worried, by troubles buried. When I leave these gardens I will not be hurried.
When I leave these gardens I’ll be back to see more as I’ve really enjoyed this wonderful tour.

As I walk past the poly tunnel where tomatoes are tied to canes with strings,
I come across a shed were people made wonderful things. Oh what delight all this brings.
And in the background I heard songs that people sing,
An art class where people paint stones and jars and made things from string.

A cabin where refreshments one could purchase and in a thrice,
A gazebo where I could sit for a trice.
Where else could one relax in pure garden paradise?
While eating a home made coffee and walnut slice.

What a wonderful garden here for all?
What amazing fragrances befall?
Where one could come if you’re small or tall.
There is plenty here for all to enthral.

I spy a children’s play area with a Wendy house there,
A play kitchen to cook mud pies with great care.
Fun tubes made of drain pipe to role balls down make children laugh,
I bet this is used also by the garden staff!

For children and adults alike visiting the garden there’s nothing to dislike,
Many come while out on their bike or they just pop in after a long hike.
Some drive, some walk and some come by bus,
We’ve even had people who are famous or paint on a canvas for us.

The old grammar school and surrounding olde houses,
Make a back drop for this wonderful walled garden.
The buildings are old making an excellent view, well worth coming for something to do.
And I’d guess an artist would paint here with delight looking around at this wondrous sight.

And guess what! I’ve just been told you don’t have to queue.
The only payment is a donation from you,
You’re free to come and go as you please,
You always feel so at ease.

You can sit here and simply feel the light breeze.
And admire the gently swaying trees.
Or chat with some patrons, they’ll soon put you at ease.
Come in to the garden there’s no hidden fees.

Have I have not said what this place so tranquil and calm is, a place where one can become a patron.
I do so graciously beg your pardon! These are the premises backing on to the house once owned by Arden.
This place that welcomes one and all is the Abbey Physic Community Garden.
And it’s open to all.

Be safe, we will see you soon - from all at the Abbey Physic Community Garden