Dear Readers, it’s fair to say that I haven’t been paying much attention to what’s been going on locally lately – I seem to have spent most of my time in Dorset, or on a South Western Railways train going backwards and forwards from Dad’s nursing home in Dorchester. So it was a real pleasure to see what’s been going on in the rather challenging piece of land outside East Finchley station. I have reported on this area several times before, but I have to say that the N2 Community Gardeners have really surpassed themselves this time.
The bed is about a metre and a half off the ground, faces north-east, is no doubt filled with rubbly, claggy soil and has, in previous incarnations, attracted a lot of beer cans and cigarette ends. It must be tricky to look after – I suspect that the gardeners have the agility of mountain goats (and presumably green fingers/hooves as well). But all those efforts have paid off, because I haven’t been smiling very much lately, and yet this garden cheered me up.
I applaud the choice of plants, which are predominantly pollinator-friendly, and even on this overcast, windy day there were a few flower bees about. I love the choice of fennel, for its delightful fronds and also for the flowers later in the year – hoverflies adore them.
I had no idea that annual wallflowers came in so many different colours either. And the forget-me-nots are such a humble pleasure.
There are some useful wildflowers too, such as white dead nettle and garlic mustard – the latter is the main foodplant of the orange-tip butterfly, and although it can be very invasive in countries to which it has been introduced, it’s generally not so much of a problem in the UK.
And there are edible plants for humans too: there are some currant bushes. I am hazarding a guess that they are redcurrant, but am, as always, happy to be corrected.
There is also a magnificent flowering quince .
People often don’t realise how much their labours are appreciated: community projects are often the target of sniping and criticism, and it must be tempting sometimes to just throw down the trowel and do something a little less demanding. However, it’s also easy to underestimate how many people have their spirits lifted by the sight of something pretty in flower as they hurry to the station. This garden hasn’t been made for private pleasure, but for the delectation of everybody. There is something very civilised about it, a kind of celebration of the best in human beings: their generosity, their selflessness and their creativity. Although most of us will never achieve ‘great’ things, it is surprising what we can achieve collectively when we put our minds (and our backs) into it. Thanks to you, N2 Community Gardeners. You have done your neighbourhood proud.