I am in Luxmore Gardens in Lewisham, beginning a new project in London. Because I need to walk I am going to visit the parks, nature reserves and green spaces in Lewisham. This will encourage me to go out and it will give me photography challenges!
London launches as the first National Park City with a Festival in July 2019 and I wondered what green spaces Lewisham offers. So I decided to make 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.
London Gardens Online
Luxmore Gardens in Lewisham is hidden away between Rokeby Road and Malpas Road off Luxmore Street SE4 1BS. Parks & Gardens UK is the controlling organisation for various subsidiary, similar bodies, including the London Parks & Gardens Trust (LPGT). This is where I found my first list of green spaces.
The LPGT has a database, London Gardens Online (LGO), which lists ‘…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..’.
The History of Luxmore Gardens
…’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…’London Gardens Trust, May 2019
Access to the park
There are three entrances to Luxmore Gardens:
Murals in the park
There are some wonderful murals at the entrance off Rokeby Road, created by street artist Aspire, who also painted the birds at the south end of the park.
A children’s playground
The children’s playground is near the Rokeby Road entrance. It is the only designated children’s playing area and is securely fenced, gated, and locked. Residents appear to have a keys to the area and accompany their children. 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.
The layout of Luxmore Gardens
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. On my first visit people were sitting on the grass, enjoying the sunshine with picnics.
Planting in Luxmore Gardens
LGO describes ‘…Shrubs around the perimeter…’ which suggests an abundance of plants, but this is not the case. The side of the park opposite the path is neglected, as is 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. I am interested to see what the gardening group decide to do – I could certainly welcome some advice!
LGO talks of ‘…some shrub beds…’ but I am unsure about this. 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 when the planting is more established. In addition to the plants below there are hellebores, different varieties of ferns, euphorbias, and alliums.
Seating in the park
Currently there are three benches and two picnic tables in the park which means it is easy to relax here. There are plans to develop amenities still further and I was impress by the Friends’ initiative!
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’ which quiet and peaceful.n It is 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.
Luxmore Gardens in Lewisham was a very good park with which to begin my project!