Our Gardens at Sycamore House and John Betts House are a platform for workshops and social events enabling people to work in their own part of the garden, or to simply relax and enjoy…
With acknowledgement to the Open Garden Square’s blog “Tales from Duck Island”
You could easily pass by Sycamore House in Hammersmith without any inkling of the garden delights created by the tenants inside. An old garden with mature shrubs and planting was here prior to 2012 , but it had to make way for new building and accommodation. However, the benefits of a garden was not forgotten in the redevelopment. Sycamore House’s Community Gardener, Jackie Thompson, set herself the task of designing an even better garden, and, with the help of the architects, a delightful winding lane of plants now weaves its way between the sheltered housing.The new garden is only five years old and has already won the Challenge Cup for large community gardens in almshouses run by the London Gardens’ Society not once, but two years in a row, which is a tribute to the efforts of Jackie and her team of volunteer garden residents. Founded on the principle of successional planting, there is colour whatever the weather.In November the Beautyberry (Callicarpa) was showing off its purple fruit, perfectly offset by a planting of pink neriums. A red salvia was in bloom not far away from this arbour and throughout plants have been carefully chosen to reflect scent, touch, colour and seasons. Throughout the winding walk a variety of different fruits pop up out of the border – redcurrants, grapes, strawberries, kiwi fruits and an espalier-trained apple tree sit cheek by jowl with flowers, shrubs and grasses. Despite designing the garden from scratch, Jackie does not dogmatically follow a set planting pattern and encourages the personalisation of the borders by the residents.Active involvement is key. She stresses that this is not an old people’s home and it certainly feels very different. Speaking about the garden Jackie said “ I’ve set out to create an oasis of tranquillity which blends colour from flowering plants with that from fruit. With the help of some very dedicated residents here, we have made a garden which is both relaxing and interesting.”
10 minutes further down Goldhawk Road, John Betts House garden – award winner in London Garden Society’s small community garden category – offers a very different feel. The garden’s centrepiece is a series of arches which were planted to create a blowsy, flowing feel, with the plants and grasses spilling over the central path, brushing by visitors as they pass. John Betts House was constructed in 1964 by Hammersmith United Charities and extensively refurbished in 1998. Built up around an inner, secluded garden, it has presented its challenges to Jackie and her resident garden volunteers, as the garden area was used to dump the rubble from the building work – so the digging is hard.