Search Results : abbey road » Through The Garden Gate

May 142011

St John's Wood

I somehow managed to miss my turning on my walk home yesterday and ended up by the Beatles zebra crossing. Sometimes I quite like crossing it as it’s so iconic, but yesterday there were lots of tourists holding up the traffic and doing silly poses so I crossed the road further up. It meant that I got to walk past this garden, which I first saw in January.

It was pretty impressive then but it looks totally different now. It’s exploded into a haze of purple: perennial wallflowers and hardy geraniums. Bees were buzzing all over it. And I reckon it will look good for a while yet – there are lots of other plants lurking under the wallflowers, ready to do their thing. The residents of the apartment block are very fortunate to have such an amazing entrance.

Jan 302011

Abbey Road

Just down from the Abbey Road Studios and the famous zebra crossing is this mansion block front garden. The brick raised beds look like they’ve been there since Paul, John, Ringo and George’s day, when they would have probably have been filled with colourful bedding. Now they’re planted up with grasses, euphorbias, sedums, iris and other perennials and much better they look for it too. I’ll pop back in the summer to see what they look like then.

Aug 052014



Forde Abbey, Somerset


When I was a child, my family spent many summer holidays on a farm that was once part of the Forde Abbey estate. It was a working dairy farm, and we all loved it. We used to visit Forde Abbey a lot, and nearby Cricket St Thomas too. We also picked soft fruit on Forde Abbey’s PYO fruit farm, just down the road, and ate raspberries and cream for tea every day. When the day came to leave, my sister and I were inconsolable for several hours, crying in the back seat of the car. I’m sure those holidays played a big part in why I love the West Country so much.

Now, of course, I’m living quite near Forde Abbey, so when my parents came to stay recently, we went back there. As luck would have it, it was Sweet Pea Fortnight –  the lady of the house grows 70 varieties and rates them on various factors. I’ve been really chuffed with my sweet peas this year but they were all rather at the blue/purple end of the spectrum (I grew a lot of ‘Cupani’ and ‘Robert Uvedale’) and I want to expand my repertoire next year. So it was brilliant to see so many varieties in one place – this is just some of them.


Forde Abbey has several additions since we were last there. For a start, it’s got Britain’s highest fountain, which is pretty impressive – just don’t stand down-wind of it.


It also has a beautiful new bog garden –  possibly my favourite part of the garden (sweet peas aside).


And last but not least, there is 48-year-old Twiglet, who would would have been around when we visited all those years ago and makes me feel positively youthful.

On the way back, we picked some raspberries for tea at the PYO farm, which is still there, then called in at the farm. It had recently changed hands and is being developed as holiday cottages. All the animals have gone, the farmyard is no more, and the stables that used to house the calves have become holiday lets. Despite all of that, it still seemed so familiar. The new owners showed us around and were very interested to hear our holiday tales – gathering around a grainy black and white TV in the cowman’s cottage to watch the Royal Wedding, the hand-reared sheep that thought it was a dog and liked to be taken for walks…). The place seems like it is in good hands.

I wouldn’t say I was inconsolable on the back seat as we left, but I certainly had a lump in my throat. That corner of Dorset/Somerset/Devon will always be my favourite place on earth.

Jul 212011

Abbey Road

I used to live in a building called Utopia House. Never was a block of flats more inaccurately named, but that’s another story. One thing that used to fascinate me was that out of 18 flats, only two had plants on the balconies. The rest were home to junk that people didn’t have room for indoors. Space was at a premium, of course (why can’t designers create flats with enough storage – basements, bike stores etc?), but I got a lot of pleasure from gazing out at my green jungle. I couldn’t understand why 16 households in a fairly grim part of town were looking out on such a depressing view.

At the weekend I walked past the Alexandra & Ainsworth Estate and decided to have a look around. Whenever I’ve gone past it on the bus I’ve thought it looked like it must be home to some greenfingered residents, and so it is.

This was the best bit of planting I saw (I especially like the celebratory flags) but I also spotted lots of red geraniums (the perfect balcony plant as they’re so visible), lavender, courgettes, salads, garden gnomes and even trees in pots. Apparently the architect, Neave Brown, designed the site so that everyone had access to a private outdoor space of some kind. And 30-odd years later it’s obviously still appreciated, as most people seemed to be growing something.

I also spotted a community veg garden (growing in bags). And apparently the site will soon be getting some beehives, too.