Open Garden Squares Weekend – 14-15 June 2014

Fifty Shades of Green

By Catherine Miller, London Development Officer for the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens

(Click on a garden name for further information. Click on a photo to enlarge.)

Melissa Bee Sanctuary
I started the weekend at a shady little garden at the side of the Union Chapel in Highbury, Melissa Bee Sanctuary, where there was fascinating information on offer about these clever creatures - and the bees didn't mind the music going on next door.

Cordwainers Garden
From here I took the Overground to visit the Cordwainers Garden, which is located by the side of a fashion college, with herb beds, fruit and vegetables, organised by a community group determined to get some green education into this built- up part of Hackney.

Next to Core Arts Core Landscape's Pop-up Garden and Plant Nursery in Canning Town by Overground and DLR; this part of London could be described as the wild east, with building development and cranes everywhere; so it was good to see a pop-up garden here. Five months ago the site was all rubble, so a liner was laid down with woodchips on top, and raised beds made for veg. There were plants for sale and a polytunnel constructed, ready to grow more. They reported 40 visitors through OGSW by midday.

On the DLR to Nomura, a spectacular city rooftop garden with beautiful lawns, lavender and herbaceous planting, as well as a veggie patch. This must be one of the best viewpoints in London, straight over the Thames - quite exhilarating to have a garden space up here.

St Michael's Convent
I took the bike by Overground to Richmond - a trip to the countryside and cycled on the road by river meadows to Ham, and St Michael's Convent, a blissfully peaceful walled garden where you felt there had been gardeners here who loved the place for many years. Vaut le détour, as they say. The serenity here was a complete antidote to London stress.

Ham House
From here to Ham House and a fabulous 17th-century walled kitchen garden with apricots trained on the wall, cabbages and raspberries grown with lilies, foxgloves and roses. A geometric garden was just shades of green - four plants: yew, santolina, lavender and box. There was a long border near the house with herbaceous plants - lots for the keen gardener to admire. It was a bit of an adventure back to Richmond via the Thames Path, which I forded on the bike, as it literally had a foot of Thames water on it. Locals are used to it and it is to do with the tide, apparently.

St George's Fields
Sunday was a cycling day - first to St George's Fields, a 70s estate off Hyde Park with interesting planting, nice to explore with just the sound of blackbirds, wrens and robins.

Pembridge Square
Next to Pembridge Square, beautifully planted with unusual combinations, a maze, play area and friendly atmosphere.

Holland House
Then on to Holland House Garden, a peaceful green space fronting part of an old mansion, with water plants.

Rosmead Garden
My final visits of the day were to: Rosmead Garden, a large green with houses backing on to it, and a busy pop-up café in a resident's house, raising funds for an African charity;

Hanover Gardens
Hanover Gardens, a huge open space - nice, sloping, characterful - and friendly people;

St James's Gardens
St James's Gardens, a large green space adjoining the church, with some nice planting

St Quintin's Avenue Community Kitchen Garden
and St Quintin's Avenue Community Kitchen Garden, a busy food-growing garden festooned with bunting, with plenty of well tended plots for local people.

Everywhere I went, people were reporting good visitor numbers. I love getting out and exploring London's fifty shades of green on this weekend. Long may it grow and flourish.