I am starting a new project in London which will encourage me to go out and which will give me photography challenges – I need to walk and so I am going to investigate and visit the parks, nature reserves and green spaces in Lewisham. I read that London launches itself as the first National Park City with its first Festival in July 2019 and I wondered what Lewisham offers in terms of green spaces. So I decided to start with a list – it is always good to start with a list and look the project in the eye! It seems to be a very long list and I am starting with something unlikely – Luxmore Gardens in Lewisham!
Luxmore Gardens in Lewisham is hidden away between Rokeby Road and Malpas Road off Luxmore Street SE4 1BS. It is listed by Parks & Gardens UK which seems to be the controlling organisation for various subsidiary, similar bodies, including the London Parks & Gardens Trust where it is described on their database, the London Parks & Gardens Trust Inventory, London Gardens Online, as ‘a small park dating from 1959 comprised of a strip of gardens between housing with a path running north-south, with playgrounds, picnic tables in the grass area, shrubs around the perimeter and some shrub beds.’
This database, LPGT Inventory, aims to list ‘…the smaller landscapes that make a great contribution at a local level. It is the largest and most comprehensive survey of parks and gardens of local historic interest in the capital, and covers the 610 square miles that make up Greater London. The criteria used to establish whether a site should be included on the LPGT Inventory are that it should be at least 30 years old and have some element of formal layout or landscape design, or have important social history attached to it…’. English Heritage and similar organisations in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland list parks and gardens of ‘…national standing..’.
Luxmore Gardens has its own website and a dedicated group of Friends who are working hard to raise money, develop the amenities in the park, and manage the planting. They describe the park as a ‘pocket park’ and quiet and peaceful, hidden between two rows of houses off a busy main road into central London. I visited twice over the Easter weekend and it was lovely on both occasions, with only a distant sound of traffic and lots of bird song. There are three entrances –
This last entrance off Rokeby Road has some wonderful murals on the left hand wall, created by street artist Aspire, who also painted the birds at the south end of the park.
As you enter the garden from the Rokeby Road entrance, you come to the children’s playground. This is now the only designated children’s playing area and is securely fenced, gated, and locked although residents appear to have a key. At this end of the park a new, small block of homes has been inserted between the two roads on either side of the park – Malpas Road and Rokeby Road.
There is a path to one side, running north-south, with lawn in the centre and two picnic tables. Large trees are just coming into leaf, and it is a park which is clearly popular with local people who were sitting on the grass, enjoying the sunshine with picnics, when I visited the first time.
‘…Shrubs around the perimeter…’ seems to suggest an abundance of plants, which is not the case. The side of the park opposite the path is neglected, as the boundary alongside the bird paintings – although judging from the rest of the park they will be tackled in the near future. It will be difficult gardening because of the shade cast by the tall trees, and no doubt a tangle of roots. It will be interesting to see what the gardening group decide to do – I could certainly welcome some advice!
I am unsure about the description of ‘…some shrub beds…’ but there is a new and carefully planted wide border down one side with an interesting mix of some shrubs, grasses, and perennials. It will be good to see this again in another month or two. In addition to the plants below there are hellebores, different varieties of ferns, euphorbias, and alliums.
There are three benches and two picnic tables at present, with plans to develop amenities still further – it is very impressive!
Luxmore Gardens in Lewisham was a very good park with which to begin my project!