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My Spitalfields garden

September 23, 2009
by the gentle author


Maybe you have wondered what kind of garden I have, where I plant my Columbia Road purchases each week? Let me say, it is a privilege to have a garden in the centre of London – even if it is a small one like mine here in Spitalfields. Before I began to renovate last year, it was overgrown with evergreen shrubs and bamboo interspersed with those white quartz chips you see in graveyards.

To start,  it took me a week to sieve the soil and remove the stone chips. Then I dug out the ugly shrubs and spent weeks squatting in the rain pulling out every tiny stubborn rhizome of bamboo until my fingers bled. Next, I mulched the soil with barrows of well-rotted manure that I wheeled down the road from the Spitalfields City Farm. Finally, I laid out a small central square of beach pebbles and bordered it with scallop shells kindly provided by Mr Button, the fishmonger in the Roman Road.

There is an old tree creating a canopy over my garden and I love looking out of the first floor windows into it – I can watch squirrels and even the occasional woodpecker from my desk. However, the tree means my garden gets little sun or rain and I have to choose plants accordingly.

Although I have planted shade tolerant plants, disappointingly many never came to flower this year and I understand now why my predecessors planted shrubs. But there’s no going back and, through self-selection, I am discovering the right plants for my garden. In particular, Foxgloves thrive and, as you can buy them at the Coppermill Market in Cheshire Street for a pound each, I have been planting them en masse in every corner I can find.

Next spring, you will see the results.


One Response leave one →
  1. Patricia Cleveland-Peck permalink
    February 7, 2012

    I havejust discovered you in a roundaboout way: a visit to Dennis Severs House by candlelight at Christmas and a walk around Spitalfields were enough to make us fallin love with the place. Then I happened upon Silvana’s 2 pieces on Spitalfiels on the Foodlie Bugle and thus to Spitalfield Life.

    I am a writer and journalist and I often focus on plants and gardens. I have just published a book on the history of the auricula and I now have a campaign in mind to bring the glorious Show or Stage auriculas back to Spitalfields. I have read of your purchases at Columbia Market and while in no way disparaging them I cannot wait to somehow let you see some real Show Auriculas – described by Sacheverell Sitwell as like ‘the most exquisite Meissen porcelain or the most lovely silk of Isfahan.’ You grow them in pots not the earth and can even have an auricula theatre in which to show them off -they would be perfect for a small garden and totally at home in Spitalfields as the Huguenot silk workers adored them. I have lots and would happily give you and the Dennis Severs House some. Maybe at the book launch???

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