Greening Tom Thumb’s Arch


Tom Bradford and James Clark of Malmesbury Residents Association write:

After a very busy weekend, we have just about finished our planting project at Tom Thumb’s Arch and the surrounding area. Many people walking past, some of whom joined the planting, were taken back by how beautiful this small but prominent site now looks.

This is part of Malmesbury Residents Association‘s Green Project and is just one of a number of locations around Malmesbury Estate that the residents have been ‘greening’ with help from a Tower Habitats biodiversity grant from the Tower Hill Trust. You can read about the first part of the project, undertaken in spring 2019, here.

Community planting day and passers byThe location at Tom Thumb’s Arch was picked for stage two as it is on one of the main pedestrian routes connecting Bow Road and Bow Church Stations to the Roman Road area of Bow. The existing poor quality grass mounds and verges provided ideal conditions for improving the existing habitat by introducing a number of native and non-native nectar-rich plant species. This will benefit bees and other pollinating insects, as well as making it a more attractive place for human residents and passers-by.

Further south along Ambrose Walk there was additional planting under London Plane trees. Their dense canopies and extensive root systems can make it difficult to establish an understorey, but by carefully selecting a mix of plants that can cope in dry shade, such as Luzula, Hypericum, Hemerocallis and Alchemilla, there is a greater chance of success.

Volunteers planting on housing estateMalmesbury is one of the greener housing estates in the area and there are lots of opportunities to improve the existing site, which is currently mostly lawns with scattered trees. The Residents Association hopes that by improving the appearance of the estate there will be more community pride and ownership, which may in turn help reduce the currently poor levels of anti-social behaviour. This is an ongoing project and the Malmesbury Residents Association intend to organise planting days for residents each autumn and spring.

The project was a big undertaking for a relatively small Residents Association, and couldn’t have been completed without the assistance of the residents and surrounding community of Malmesbury Estate, the Council’s Green Team for preparing the ground, the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park for lending us tools, Rochfords Plant Nursery for providing plants, support on the day from Victoria Park Garden Team, design input from LUC, ongoing support from Tower Hamlets Homes and, of course, funding from Tower Hill Trust.

Header photo by Paul Bratton

All other photos by Malmesbury Residents Association. Click to enlarge


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