Cranbrook Community Garden is on the Cranbrook Estate which was designed by Francis Skinner, Douglas Bailey and Berthold Lubetkin. The area was heavily bombed during the war and had much inadequate Victorian housing as well. After war damage was cleared the Council commissioned this ambitious new estate in 1955, opening in 1963. The Community Garden started c.10 years ago, alongside the children’s play area and is maintained and managed through the hard work of volunteers, residents of the estate. The shared aim of enjoying fresh air while producing food brings together people of diverse cultures and there are many stories to be told of the good things achieved through the site.
The garden is a compact site of raised planters, with a seating area, greenhouse, and composting bins. Vegetables and some fruit are grown – no space for flowers! This is a functional site which produces food, and fruit which can be preserved or jammed.
There is even some art work brightening up the Wormery Corner!
In the greenhouse the tomatoes and other tender plants are now ready for planting out – the greenhouse is well-used, with a clear planting schedule, as you can see!
Do visit during Open Garden Squares Weekend – and chat to the gardeners – they would love to talk to you! And when you are ready to move on pop round the corner and look at Elizabeth Frink’s statue of The Blind Beggar.
Approach Community Gardens looks more like parkland than allotments – this is a must-visit on Sunday 10 June during Open Garden Squares Weekend! As you walk down the road towards the garden the roses are poking through the railings and you know it is going to be beautiful.
The gardens were renovated just two years ago with a donation from the Lottery Fund which paid for new, sturdy planters, amongst other things. I visited a year ago and the growth and development over the past twelve months is just amazing! Like Cable Street Community Gardensthis is about the community which uses the site, and it is about complexity and diversity. Flowers and vegetable live side by side quite happily, there is a wildflower ‘meadow’, a pond, a communal orchard, and lovely green grass with tables and chairs. And quiet corners with a bench or chair and table encourages people to visit, and linger. Just lovely!
The wild flower garden is in a quiet corner, slightly hidden away, and a pleasure to find. A pond is also hidden!
The lower reaches of the River Lea were navigable and the area was used for the manufacture (and export) of chemicals in the 19C. Cody Dock was where coal was delivered to the Imperial Gas and Chemical Works.
Today Cody Dock is a ‘community centre’ which is on the brink of major redevelopment. A cafe provides very good refreshments, and there are many ongoing activities (see the website). Planters are made in the workshop and planted with flowers and small trees as well as vegetables.
A small Sensory Garden alongside the Dock has an educational enclosure as well and the site is clearly well-used by local schools.
There are two boats at Cody Dock: the River Princess and the Corlea.The River Princess, the Docklands Community Boat, has been refurbished and is about to be refloated for trips up and down the River Lea. It was built as a passenger boat for use on the River Thames in 1985 and bought by the Trust in 2011. The Corleawas built by Harland & Wolff Ltd in North Woolwich in 1933 as a tug to handle barges on the River Lea bringing coal to the chemical factories, and to Hackney Power Station.
Cody Dock is not short of art work either! It is on The Lineand a piece by Damien Hirst stands outside the River Entrance. The Dolphin looks as though it lights up at night
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.
The Garden Barges at Tower Bridge are floating homes with gardens on the rooftops and gangways, and if you haven’t yet visited you should do so this year – the planting is looking gorgeous! Over the past year gardener Sophie Tatzkow has done a wonderful job and I look forward to seeing more of her plantings.
The ‘Long Borders’ are flourishing –
Erysimum E A Bowles & Foxgloves
PInk, scented jasmine
The side alleyways are equally beautiful and lush –
Do visit – just remember these are people’s homes.
Stave Hill Ecology Park has been developed in the former Surrey Commercial Docks in South London as part of the regeneration of the area by the LDDC. The Shed is the HQ of the Park and an ongoing and never-ending centre for conservation, education, and development. The work done here, by one person with teams of volunteers is truly amazing – you must visit during Open Garden Squares Weekend, when there are special activities, including ecologically appropriate installations by final year students from Camberwell College of Art.
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.
One of the many pleasures of Open Garden Squares Weekend is to ‘discover’ a beautiful garden in an unexpected setting. Fassett Square is such a pleasure – a modest garden square enclosed by railings in a mix of Victorian and 20C buildings is green and lush with some pretty plant combinations. You know this will be a cared-for and enjoyable garden when you walk into the square and see luscious pink paeonies draped over a wall – do visit!
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.