Cable Street Community Garden will be open again this year, on Sunday 18 June, during the Open Garden Squares Weekend. This peaceful site is one of several in the historic Docklands Area in London and I was lucky to have a preview this week. The site is in Hardinge Street, just off Cable Street – which is a very clear clue to the history of the area – and is c.2 acres of organic gardens on either side of the Docklands Light Railway. The gardens are locked for safety so don’t miss this opportunity to visit this remarkable and magical haven and meet its friendly gardeners.
The gardens were developed from a derelict patch of wasteland in the 1970s – an initiative inspired by Friends of the Earth. The site below is unrecognisable today. Spitalfields Life posts two wonderful series of photographs and stories by Chris Kelly – do visit the site. Today’s gardeners still come from all round the world – all corners of the UK/Eire, Sylhet (Bangladesh), India, West Indies, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, Taiwan, Nigeria, Slovakia, Holland, Australia, Sweden, Norway, South Africa, America, Denmark, Germany, Pakistan, Outer Hebrides and even a lady from Turkestan who resolved a problem concerning ownership of pots with a lady from Slovenia using Russian! Oh, and Malta and Poland are also represented! Today the gardens look very different from the early days above, thanks to the hard work and dedication of a small group of people and able leadership.
But it is only when you wander around the gardens, and look closely, that you realise the richness and beauty of what these gardeners have created. This is not a manicured private square as you will see in Westminster or Belgravia, but take your time and you will be richly rewarded.
This week the paeonies were just gorgeous! The stunning bush below is planted in a cut-down container and although it will be over by mid-June there are more buds getting ready to pop in the weeks ahead, and you can imagine how lovely they will be.
The scent of jasmine is heavy on the air and everywhere there is variety and colour – foxgloves, hebe, clematis, calendulas, oteospermum, amongst others.
The geraniums are pretty and the irises are majestic.
But these are not just decorative gardens; there are herbs in abundance, cabbages, onions potatoes, artichokes, and carrots and I have no doubt that peas and lettuces will follow shortly.
There is going to be an abundance of fruit – apples, gooseberries, currants, and strawberries, and possibly even grapes later in the year.
And then there are the birds and bees and the beehives…
I left the garden determined to plant jasmine in my own garden, but please come back for another visit with me – I still have to show you the roses!
Cable Street Community Gardens
Photographs by Chris Kelly on Spitalfields Life