The Commercial Road in East London is a busy, bustling highway and Watney Street (which opens on to the Commercial Road), one of London’s oldest markets can be found here. It is always busy, multi-cultural, and with one of my favourite fabric shops. But this is a post about gardens and just round the corner is Winterton House, an uncompromising tower block of flats with a wonderful, hidden garden which was created by Melvyn and Ken from the wasteland hidden behind the building.
Lavender Pond Nature Reserve was created round one of the holding docks for timber in the former Surrey Commercial Docks and every year the small Reserve develops under the care of its single manager, with the help of volunteers. The Pumphouse is a striking feature in the Reserve, standing over the short channel which leads to the river Thames on one side, and a lock (now in some disrepair) which leads into Lavender Pond on the other.
Cable Street Community Garden is an unlikely haven of peace in London’s former Docklands, on either side of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). The gardeners have always been committed to organic gardening for their fruit, vegetables, and flowers, and the site attracts birds, bees, butterflies, and of course foxes! Do visit during Open Garden Squares Weekend on Sunday 10 June.
Tower Hamlets and Docklands may sound unlikely areas for beautiful gardens, but take a chance and journey east to explore the sites in the Docklands Area which are open during Open Garden Squares Weekend, 17 & 18 June! You won’t be disappointed – just check the Guidebook or the website to be sure which gardens are open on your chosen day.
The Docklands south of the Thames aren’t derelict! This historically important part of the Thames is home to some very imaginative conservation and regeneration projects – do venture south and east of the river and visit during Open Garden Squares Weekend. There are some fascinating sites south of the Thames, in the former Surrey Commercial Docks and near Tower Bridge and they will be open during this weekend, 17 & 18 June! Check the Guidebook (if you already have a ticket) or the website to be sure which gardens are open on your chosen day.
‘…The Phoenix Garden is the best-kept secret of London’s West End. Open daily, it provides a peaceful green retreat for local residents, workers and tourists all year round, and is a haven for a wide range of urban wildlife.
Created by local volunteers in 1984 on the site of a former car park, this is the last of the Covent Garden community gardens. The location can be challenging, yet the Phoenix Garden demonstrates what can be achieved with ingenuity upon a bedrock of West End rubble. Phoenix Gardens…’.
Trees give shade but are also interesting – birch, elder, fruit trees – and a gingko biloba.
This is a haven of quiet – somewhere to escape from Oxford Street and just sit quietly for a while, or perhaps read the book bought at nearby Foyles.
The garden is in a Victorian part of London, as you can see from the date on the warehouse, and also backs on to the Church of St Giles in the Fields.
A pond attracts dragonflies and damselflies, and, I assume, frogs to eat the snails. And there are clever planting ideas for the very dry ‘rubble bed’, created when the new centre was built. Plant your old parsnips and carrots, let them flower, and you have tall heads resembling Queen Anne’s Lace! And what about Phacelia Campanularis, salvias, and lychnis (instead of knautia macedonica) for fast-draining, hot and dry beds?
The garden opens officially on Monday 19 June, but you can preview during Open Garden Squares Weekend – do visit!
The Brunel Museum will be open during Open Garden Squares Weekend, 17 & 18 June – do visit! The Museum is housed in the Engine House which was built by Sir Marc and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel as part of the Thames Tunnel. The garden is on top of the Rotherhithe shaft and home to the cocktail bar, The Midnight Apothecary, whose cocktails use flavourings grown in the garden.
The Tower or Rotherhithe Shaft was the original entrance to the Thames Tunnel, the first tunnel a river anywhere in the world. The Tunnel was built between 1825-43. The day the Tunnel opened 50,000 paid to walk under the Thames! The Tunnel was built to facilitate trade across the river, however, not as a tourist attraction. Today the shaft is used as a performance space and the garden on top of the shaft is home to the cocktail bar, The Midnight Apothecary, whose cocktails use flavourings grown in the garden or foraged locally.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s work is humourously remembered in two benches at the Museum – the Hungerford Bridge (1845) and the Royal Albert Bridge in Saltash (1854). And don’t miss the striking seats and table behind the Museum, or the remains of the priming pump from the Surrey Docks.
Winterton House is a ‘Hidden Gem’ in Open Garden Squares Weekend on 18 June 2017. This wonderful garden is tucked away behind a building that gives no hint of anything horticulturally special. But do visit! The photographs give you a taste of the garden where plants of all kinds and varieties are on show and there is also a small allottment area and speciality poultry and ducks.