The Olympic Park or The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to give it its full name, is an initiative of the London Legacy Development Corporation to create a new residential, cultural, and business centre in the East End of London around the buildings of the Olympic Games of 2012.
Arnold Circus is at the centre of the Boundary Estate, which started building in 1890 and was one of the earliest social housing developments. The Friends of Arnold Circus have renovated the bandstand and now care for the planting and wildlife on the site. This is a quiet spot, well-used, and just a few minutes away from busy Shoreditch High Street – do visit, and linger, during Open Garden Squares Weekend when you can meet some of the Friends as well. The Gardener, Andy, will be on site, planting, and willing to talk about the difficulties of shade planting, particularly dry shade planting.
Dalston Eastern Curve is a peaceful and calming site created from a derelict railway line and now well-patronised by local people. The black fencing and vibrant mural don’t prepare you for the green haven where gardener Emma plants in deep shade and patches of sunlight. Do visit during Open Garden Squares Weekend, or at any time during the year and support her hard work and then sit down with a cup of tea and the excellent lemon and polenta cake and relax into the peace.
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.
The story of the garden began in 1897 when a Parisian businessman, Georges Delaselle, visited the island and was captivated by the exotic plants brought there by sailors. He decided to create his own exotic garden and in 1918 moved permanently to the island. As so often happens, on his death the gardens gradually fell into disrepair and were only rescued in 1987 with the formation of the Friends and the support of the Conservatoire du Littoral. Today there are more than 2,500 species in the garden, from five continents.
Where has the time gone? It is nearly the start of the 7th month of the year and more than time to look at the garden again and review progress. This is a very difficult garden, with several patches of completely different ‘climates’ and with the overall problem of SNAILS & SLUGS! Oh, and there are the squirrels, cats, and foxes as well. I am trying to make a varied garden which is snail-resistant, but which is also relatively easy to maintain as I am the sole gardener. And I am trying not to spend a fortune on plants – the price of plants, particularly perennials and shrubs, seems to have soared, or am I being unrealistic?
At the end of May there was a lot of pink: the cistus draped over the wall was pink all through June, but needs to be cut back – this may mean its demise, but it is too woody so I will take cuttings and see what happens. And the pink geraniums were wonderful! I think they are a variety of macrorrhizum, but it hasn’t been identified. They don’t repeat – just the one glorious burst of pink. And underneath the Knautia Macedonica is finally happy with the dry heat at the base of the wall. All that gaudy pink has been replaced by the Hydrangea grown in a tub.
In the brick wall border the veronicastrum is falling over and the Japanese Anemones are reaching upwards. The grasses are starting to flower, the Philadelphus thrived after its early spring transplant, and various geraniums have been a joy. The Libertia and Euphorbias are going to ‘work’, I think, and I have found the snails don’t eat Tellima Grandiflora. Neither do the snails eat Yellow Loosestrife (Lysimachia Vulgaris) and I may have to add more next year.
The Fence border, with its mix of hot, dry sunshine, and dry shade is not quite right yet. I don’t think the Viburnum Plicatum is going to flourish – we had to move it twice while redoing the garden – and so with a heavy heart it is going to be replaced. Seeing how well ‘Annabelle’ is doing near the Bay Tree I am considering hydrangeas.
And then there is the fernery…
Yes, I know it is mid-June, but it is been busy! And for this post it was the three-week garden because I had been in Portugal – yes, wonderful! And there will be posts about Portugal on London Traveller. The garden in Suffolk hadn’t grown quite as much as I expected in my absence, but with the help of a kind neighbour it has come through the dry weather; nevertheless the weekend was spent watering and doing some gentle tidying.
‘…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!