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A little peckham gemCreated by Jane in Jane Lawson's Blog
What springs to mind when you hear the name Peckham? I’m willing to bet that isn’t the wide open green spaces of the Rye or the neat terraces of attractive Victorian houses with their gardens hidden behind the facades.
And one of the these gardens is a hidden gem beautifully designed and maintained by our friends Delia and Andrew. So pretty is this garden that she was prevailed upon by the area organiser of the Yellow Book to open it up for the annual open gardens day in aid of cancer charities.
I was roped in to help (not to garden – De knows where my talents are) but to make some muffins and collect the money. We arrived on a gloriously hot and sunny Sunday to find not a blade of grass pointing in the wrong direction, not a stray leaf or errant weed in sight, the planting behaving itself beautifully, and even a pair of frogs posing prettily on a water lily leaf. Total perfection in a plot measuring seven and a half metres by eight and three quarter metres. It is hard to believe but this pocket sized plot contains fig and olive trees, at least fifteen different herbs and vegetables, beautiful climbers sprawling over the fences, a lawn, framed by an arch and guarded by two box bushes over which grows a grape vine, and imaginative planting combining old cottage garden favourites with new varieties. There is even a tiny pond fringed with damp loving plants and populated by contented frogs and pots galore covering every windowsill and wall edge.
De had clearly spent many hours creating this little piece of paradise, even to the extent of venturing forth after dark with a torch and murderous intent on any bold snail with evil designs on her hostas.
It is always nerve racking wondering if anyone would have seen the posters or noticed the garden in the Yellow Book, and there was a bit of collective fretting in case the weather was poor or the visitors few. But we needn’t have worried. From the time the garden opened to well beyond closing time there was a constant stream of visitors. Husband and I did duty with the lemonade, citron pressé and muffins while Andrew collected admission money and Delia spoke knowledgeably about the joys and mysteries of gardening. She also did a roaring trade in plants and marvelled at how ready people were to spend their hard earned cash.
The visitors were a fascinating bunch. Most, inevitably, keen and enthusiastic gardeners, but some just out for an afternoon’s stroll and a nosy in other peoples gardens. They were unfailingly complementary and grateful for the opportunity to visit and it was lovely to see so many people taking pleasure in plants and garden design. One lady was 93 and had travelled on the bus from Croydon, and another brought all her family from Streatham. And another was so reluctant to take her leave that it was an hour past the official finishing time when she was persuaded to leave.
Poor Delia was quite hoarse by the end of the day, never was a cup of tea so welcome. And the icing on the cake was when we counted all the proceeds from the admissions, the muffins and drinks and the plants, and found that we had made £304.50 for charity.
And then we decided that it was time to open the fizz and toast ourselves on an excellent achievement.