Saturday evening I explored the NGS Open Gardens booklet checking today’s openings with the help of my old A-Z and online TfL + Google maps. I settled on a group opening of 4 gardens in Barnsbury, Islington N1 having also noted a few other N1 gardens apparently closer to Angel Station.
I decided to take my new smartphone on this outing – the gardens were all in too small a square of my A-Z for that to be of any use and it would be a good opportunity to practise using this technological leap from my trusty Nokia itself rarely used except for the occasional text.
I couldn’t work out how to set up all 4 gardens on Google maps but set off following directions to Barnsbury Wood via Hampstead Heath and Caledonian Road Stations. That was fine… but I was outsmarted by the camera. I have successfully taken photos on this phone but today I must have inadvertently changed settings and my attempts all failed. I didn’t realise that the beautiful sky I took as I set off down my road hadn’t actually been saved. Fortunately I did realise something was wrong when I tried taking a 2nd picture … and I switched to my real camera for photos.
My 1st photo was of the wonderful wild flower meadow by the short cut to Pond Street. And then 3 stages of the Royal Free Garden from well-established to newer landscaping and planting. There’s an another area currently under grass being prepared for a further extension of this garden.
Overground train from Hampstead Heath to Caledonian Road and Barnsbury Station. These little Overground stations have some great gardeners… Thought I’d taken a photo at Hampstead Heath station but perhaps the train’s arrival interrupted me. At Caledonian Road there were some pots that needed attention but also some homes for wildlife.
My smart Google maps got me to Barnsbury Wood open exceptionally today as part of the Barnsbury Group of Open Gardens. A Blackbird greeted me at the gate. Crow, Wood Pigeon, heard Wren and heard what was probably a Blackcap but I would have liked a sight of the bird to be sure. I also heard a repeated call I didn’t recognise – to strong for baby Great Spotted Woodpeckers in the nest… a bird of prey? I asked the person taking money if she knew about the birds in the reserve. She said there were nesting Sparrowhawks. She reckoned what I was hearing was an alarmed Blackbird but it didn’t seem to have the right tone. She did point out another call and suggested I went a little way down the path again and looked high up into the trees. I’d taken a step when we both heard what was definitely the Sparrowhawk and I saw a glimpse of the bird… not clear enough view for identification but, given all the circumstantial evidence, I was convinced.
I’d seen Huntingdon Street on my way to Barnsbury Wood so I went back to find No 57 where refreshments were available. I had a coffee and some delicious homemade lemon drizzle cake before making my way round the “secluded garden room”. I followed the doorkeeper’s instructions to the next garden in Hemingford Road where we were given a lovely description of the development of the garden from the time the owner came to the derelict house in the late 70s.
I asked for directions to the last of the 4 gardens in Thornhill Square. I don’t know if I mis-heard or if I was indeed told 2nd left then right when it should have been 1st left and left again… but I ended up on the Caledonian Road. I couldn’t work out where I was on my smartphone! I set it to guide me to Thornhill Square and retraced my steps. The phone was telling me to turn way before I reached the end of the road and then having reached the right house I realised it was continuing to give me instructions! I was beginning to tire and scattered raindrops were falling so my visit to this garden was very brief visit.
I went into Thornhill Square park and found a bench for my first sit down in 90 minutes and must have spent a good 10 minutes getting my smart bearings… I eventually set the phone to guide me back to Caledonian Road Station. But 1st I checked the Church I’d noticed when I first arrived in Barnsbury… was it the church I’d seen on a previous Open Garden walk? It was a different one in N7 that I’d photographed 17/6/18. This one had an impressive rose garden … it even had roses on the scaffolding! But I soon saw those were artificial.
I was soon on the Caledonian Road with the station in sight but I saw a bus heading for Kings Cross. Far better for me to get onto the Northern Line. So I never got to my smart “destination” but it was fun seeing the circle of “my location” slide down the road to Kings Cross.