Sunday, 13 June 2010

Barges, bridges and trees

It's just been Open Garden Square's weekend. It started out in 1998 as an opportunity to peek inside those private communal gardens bordered by wrought iron railings that pepper children's story books, black and white films and Frank Sinatra ballads about London. This year 200 places were listed and all sorts of usually private gardens were throwing open their gates, even prisons.
I went to Garden Barge Square with Nick and Dan, probably the least 'square-like' of the destinations on offer. As the name suggests, it's a collection of seven old Dutch barges with colourful histories (from brothels to smuggling), that have ended up joined in horticultural harmony to create a floating garden on the Thames, with Tower Bridge looming picture-postcard-like on the westerly horizon. Beautiful plantings - trees, grasses, perennials, vegetables are all flourishing in long steel soil and manure-filled trenches that run the length of the barges. There are pathways, places to sit, bees and birds were abundant and even a ship's cat. They are a real inspiration to anyone with a small or soilless garden space. You really can make a garden anywhere.
They're open again next month under the National Garden Scheme, on 4 July. It's worth a visit.

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