Sunday, 9 June 2013

London Open Garden Squares

The London Open Squares event was on this weekend. I heard about it on the news on Friday and decided to go to a few in my area yesterday, rather than sitting at home all day checking reports. It was well worth it. I only visited three gardens in the end, as I was much longer at each one than I thought. The first was a local primary school. Their garden was established seven years ago and is amazing. It has chickens, bees, a bird hide, a large greenhouse, a circular lawn surrounded by raised beds and pergolas, a pond, an area of box hedging, logs for insects, vegetables, flowers and trees. The children work on it in their lunchtimes and use it whenever possible for other activities. it is a really peaceful space and did feel secret, as the gate suggests. They also have an allotment on a local farm. They have won awards and shown at Chelsea. I got lots of ideas to share at school, as we will be developing our outside areas next year once the building work has finished.

The smaller eggs are from the younger chickens. There were two Pekin chickens running around loose and they were most comical. (They were the black and white variety) They have little ball shaped bodies, wide feathered feet and seem to spin on the spot to change direction. One of the TAs who was showing us around and telling us about the garden, got one and put it up her t-shirt (a black t-shirt) It instantly stopped moving as apparently it thought it was time to go to sleep!
 The next garden was Ballast Quay and is one I have peeped into and been curious about for a long time. It is small, right on the river, with lots of animal sculptures by two local artists, run down old sheds, and the best thing-one of the sheds was an artist's studio. I didn't really talk to anyone at this garden, apart from a woman who had been at the school garden too so I don't know much about it. The studio was full of plants, drawings, photos and strange large felty/woven looking blankets. It was hard to tell if all the stuff in it was recent or had been tacked up like that for years. I would love to have that space to go and use. Right on the river, private from everyone and very cosy.

 The man behind the goat was called John and was one of the artists. The other artist who was not there made the goat, bull and other wire birds. John made the heron in a lower shot. I bought a lovely iron key from him. In support of local art, to remind myself of my visit and because I love how it feels, heavy and smooth. The little grave stone is in memory of the animals who died as a result of the cure for foot and mouth, namely mass slaughter as a preventative measure.

 Rusty old chaos in the shed.
 A great spot for an evening of food and wine.
 The studio. 

The last garden actually was a garden square. Gloucester Circus in Greenwich, which is right next to the park and has large Georgian houses on one side and council flats complete with a 1960s style drying green behind them. All residents have access. It has lots of different species of trees including two of the oldest and largest London Plane trees that were probably planted when the houses were built. I talked to one man, had a glass of cordial and then was looking around and taking pictures when another man rushed up to me with a plan of the trees and lots to say. He lives on the square and said he does not use the garden much as he has a  garden of his own which takes all his time. He videoed me walking under a tree! He also took a picture of me holding the local newspaper which apparently he has lots of photos published in. All very funny really. I looked round with him and we identified most of the trees from his plan. It is a very peaceful place and another that I have looked into often as we always park near there when we go to Greenwich.

 If you are interested in seeing any more photos of the gardens, I put the rest on flickr. The first things I have put on flickr for ages and all their uploading things and editing things have changed so I didn't label the pictures as I seemed to miss that part!


Tracy said...

VERY FUN! I love such open garden days. Wish we had more of those here. :o) Happy Days, Sarah ((HUGS))

jabblog said...

I bet you can't wait to get started on your school garden. What a wonderful opportunity for children to experience the thrill of growing things and looking after chickens. I laughed at the chicken thinking it was night - brilliant!

Leenie said...

How nice to see what others are doing with their garden spaces and creative juices. Much more fun than staying home to check reports--plus you brought us all along for the fun. Thanks. I want that rooster sculpture.

Jenny Woolf said...

How interesting. I have often meant to go to this event and never have. I guess we should open our garden square, there are a lot around this area which are never opened. It can be hard getting everyone to agree to it, you'll often found someone who moans and complains that the public shouldn't be let in. Still, perhaps I will pluck up courage and mention it next year!