Thursday, 28 April 2011

Battersea Park: then and now

Battersea is one of my favourite London parks, dating back to when I first saw the Pogues play there in the mid-1980's, when it was more of a fun-fair-and-festival type of park in those years pre-gentrifcation. Then years later I lived up the hill and it was my refuge and escape and the destination for many a dogwalk. It's still a gem to rival those big green spaces North of the river: Regents Park, Primrose Hill, Kensington Gardens and Hampstead Heath.
I always like to drop in when I'm passing through and I went to see Dan Pearson's new winter garden there. It's so freshly planted that it was a little eclipsed by the surrounding froth of bluebells, tulips and newly green trees. A winter garden is at its best when there is no competition really. But it's great that Battersea has commissioned some new design and planting that doesn't hark back to it's Victorian heyday.
But I think that come next January, this latest planting of his in London will be a welcome refuge, with lots of hellebores, ferns and woodland delights nestling at the foot of some 20-odd white-stemmed birches and a cluster of wonderfully bent and twisted stems of some old lime trees that look as if they have been there for years - perhaps they have? I don't really want to think ahead to next winter already, but at least this gives me something to look forward to when the bleak days come round again.
Dan has been writing eloquently (as ever) about his ex-garden in Peckham and about green oases in the city these past few weeks. It's obviously a chance to plug his new book, but he does sound a little wistful for a small patch of urban green now that he has moved to Somerset and is surrounded acres of countryside. Ah well, I won't feel sorry for him, but thank him for leaving with a flourish of public planting..


  1. Wasn't expecting a winter post in the heat - but in the heat (which I don't like) it is refreshing.


  2. Hi Esther - yes, it is a little unseasonal, but then I've had a very unseasonal bout of flu the last couple of weeks, so perhaps that's what prompted thoughts of winter? But having said that, if this heat goes on, that little corner of woodland planting in Battersea could make a lovely cool summer refuge...