Day 10 Pockets of Wild in Spitalfields

Too sunny to stay in for the work I should be doing on Marylebone Birdwatching Society programme! Didn’t want to go to Parliament Hill Fields again – despite the temptation of the Farmers’ Market. Didn’t want to go to Primrose Hill & Regents Park as possibly going to Primrose Hill for a concert in the evening. So checked the London Open Gardens guide and found a “group opening” in Tower Hamlets E1: “A collection of hidden treasures behind some of the finest merchants and weavers houses in Spitalfields.”

Left home 10am and took the tube to Moorgate. On route I continued reading the guide I’d bought Day 2 at Highgate Cemetery – starting with Nature.
Nature page Highgate Cemetery guide

Walking from Moorgate, I soon came across some City greenery at Broadgate.


Walked to and through Liverpool Street Station, across Bishopsgate and down Brushfield Street with its familiar sight of Spitalfields Church. I took a better photo of this view in June 2015 though an extra goat has appeared since then.

By 11am I was walking alongside the church down Fournier Street. Refreshments were available at no 5 and I called in there to see if I could pay for my sticker there. That was next door. I’d be able to return later for coffee and cake served in the sunny courtyard I espied through the shop.

I was pleasantly surprised to be charged £3 less than expected for the group of gardens – discovering later there were actually 2 houses with “cancelled” notices. Walked through No 7 into the tiniest of gardens packed with plants. A couple were asking the garden designer about what grew in shade – apparently one corner of the garden did get some sun. I asked about birds as I saw there were two nest boxes in the garden. They had baby robins! … not in the nest boxes but in the tall silver birch which overlooked the garden. I heard a twitter then saw a shadow and eventually the tail of a Robin. Apparently Blackbirds and Blue Tits also visited the garden with the tits liking to look under the peeling birch bark for insects.

I had to queue outside No 29 Fournier Street! 6 people emerged and the 4 of us were able to go in. The others commented on how small the garden was but it was huge and much more open by comparison with my first garden. Here the gardener talked of the problems of finding plants that would survive in a particularly shady corner. There was a thriving jasmine – apparently hanging from the carcass of a buddleia. And we could just see a spindly strand of wisteria which the owner had recently discovered – in a photo taken from above – was flowering very well … the other side of the wall. I’d not managed to take a photo in the first garden and it was difficult to take one here but this one shows the jasmine at the back of the garden. The other photo shows the houses in the street behind which were these hidden treasures.

Round the corner into Wilkes Street for the first of the “cancelled” gardens. And round another corner into Princelet Street. No 21 had some interesting iron and ceramic work in addition to the greenery. This is where I took the photo at the top of the blog.

I asked the way to Elder Street: right, right, left, right, left! i.e further along and across Commercial Street. On the corner of Elder Street I noticed a plant growing out of a dilapidated building. And then I saw two people emerging from a low door in what could have been a garage.


Something of a “wow” sensation as I walked through this door into a light airy space that was The Future Laboratory. I was told there were notices up about the building and their vertical garden but I wasn’t told about the roof garden! Fortunately, as I was reading the notice about the building, the last of the previous group came down and a new group was being invited up. I was able to join them. 3 flights of stairs (49 steps) up and down but it was worth it! Amazing scent of lavender. No bees currently but they’d got room for a hive. View of the top of the Gherkin. Back downstairs I noted the back of the “garage” where bicycles were stored, the stairs with pot plants and the Scaffold Garden where herbs and vegetables were grown. I finished reading the notice about the building and left this amazing hidden treasure.

34 Elder Street had cancelled so I walked across Folgate Street into Spital Square. Someone with an Open Gardens sticker saw mine and asked if I’d found the garden at No 37. I’d not had a chance to start looking but, fortunately, this lady spotted someone else who’d found the sign up a bit of road off the square. This Huguenot Merchant House was now home to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings which was founded by William Morris in 1877. There wasn’t much to see in the garden apart from information about SPAB. And it seems some plants will soon be replaced by bike racks – a different concept of “green”.
IMG_4188

12.20pm I emerged from my last garden. Walked through Spital Square and into Spitalfields Market. I’d remembered my Ecoffee Cup this time and bought from Leon a Fairtrade cuppa and a “wrap” wrapped in aluminium foil (which I took home to recycle). I returned to Spital Square to eat my lunch under the “Sails” entertained by dancers from Swing Patrol. I left before the 1.15 taster class and made my way back to Moorgate for the tube home.

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