TTT people have made six fascinating garden visits (well five visits to new gardens, and our garden seems fresh every day). We want to share our impressions of things that excited us in many settings, from diverse and creative points of view, all of which can inspire our growing in Tooting.
Yes we are only showing snapshots – on another day, and for another visitor, there’d be a different experience.
Two gardens are in New York, in Manhattan’s Alphabet City – where guerilla gardening began in the early 1970s in a bid to develop community ties and reduce unsafe areas. It wasn’t set up by politicians, but by individuals mobilising together.
Which is your favourite garden; what inspires you to grow?
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First, the Tooting Community Garden. We have been sowing beans, corn, and more beans – one of our contributions for Growing for the 2014 Foodival. Come and see them at our Garden Open Day, from 1000-1700 on Sunday 15th June, when we’re open as part of Open Garden Squares and the Furzedown Festival.
Bursting out on 21st May

Sowing on 5th May

Second, El Jardin del Paraiso in New York City.  Home to the most fantastic tree house (or should I say tree nest) I’ve ever seen. It was great to see so many children enjoying the space and hear music being played (much like our garden every Sunday).
The tree nest was the result of a partnership with local artists, and

reminded me of the Furzedown Oak project that we’re part of in Tooting. It really brought to life how art can inspire people’s connection with the natural environment around them and help their enjoyment of that space.

Third, Chelsea Physic Garden.
A paradise since 1673 for lovers of plants and botanical history, right on the Thames near the Royal Hospital (and the Chelsea Flower Show right now). It is very welcoming, and in beautiful condition, with the wow factor of expert planting and interpretation.

I love the ‘Shelf Life’ project tucked away in the teaching area: growing common shop and supermarket foods in their sales packaging: from aloe vera to guava to wheat.

Fourth, Rosendale Allotments in Dulwich. Founded in 1908, the allotment assocation has 480 plots (and a long waiting list). The site lies on a steep hill, and every kind of crop is grown around the gardeners’ benches and sheds – some for relaxing to enjoy the view towards Canary Wharf and The Shard. Thanks to the Site Officers Marco and Sophia!
The website is full of good growing guidance

Fifth, Sissinghurst Castle, in Kent.  There’s the stunning National Trust garden (really, there were no weeds in the beds), and also a new kitchen garden to reduce the ‘food miles’ of the fresh food used in the two cafes. There are two full time kitchen gardeners – yes we are envious!

Sixth, it has to be the 6th Street and Avenue B Garden in New York City.
What struck me about this garden was the beauty and variety of the space – it was full to bursting with flowers and plants, grouped closely together. The joy was the exploration along tiny paths and under canopies – each revealing another space – a pond with fish, plentiful raised beds for herbs, wild flowers, ferns and vegetables, a stage for community events, shady secret seating areas for tranquility and reflection, and much more besides.

I discovered that this site is so loved by the community that it is now permanent, and welcomes 200 children through its doors every week as part of an education program that has gone from strength to strength. Truly inspirational.

As well as coming to garden with us in the Tooting Community Garden any Sunday, another great activity is the wonderful and creative Chelsea Fringe, running now until 8th June.