Monday, August 20, 2012

Quiet Spots of Refuge in London

Quiet Places of Refuge in London England

Postman Park
Circle of green grass about 10 yards in diameter, with a roughly 3 yard brown central area containing low bushes. Outward-facing park benches are at the circle's rim, and a multistorey brick building with an awning is in the background, across a sidewalk.
A quiet space in the City of London is remarkable, but Postman’s Park is unique. Round the corner from St Paul's Cathedral where the streets are full of city gents bursting with self-importance, it contains the Watts Memorial where people who were ordinary, yet extraordinary are remembered in a very beautiful way.
In one corner of the park, easily overlooked under a canopy, there are over 50 plaques, with beautiful lettering hand-painted onto Royal Doulton tiles. Each one details the untimely end of a heroic soul who died trying to save another life. Three churchyard combine to make this park once popular with postman for their lunch break.  A shortage of space for burials in London meant that corpses were often laid on the ground and covered over with soil instead of being buried, and thus Postman's Park, built on the site of former burial grounds, is significantly elevated above the streets which surround it. It is the location of the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice.

Freightliners Farm

Winner of the Green Insurance Company Green Grant for 2011.
Come and enjoy a taste of country life in the city. Freightliners Farm, in the heart of Islington, provides an exciting opportunity for you to experience a real working farm in action.

The Farm is open all year round from Tuesday to Sunday. On Monday, the farm is closed except on Bank Holidays. During the Christmas period, the farm is closed for the week.

The Academy Gardens Hotel

                                The Academy Gardens
(Photo: Janne Watson)

The hotel is formed from five cleverly linked Georgian houses, originally built in 1776. It has two small courtyard gardens to the rear, one with a fishpond, while large trees dominate the perimeter. There is a small collection of interesting shrubs. It's hard to believe you are in the heart of London. Sip a glass of chilled wine next to the pond, curl up with a paper or enjoy a hot brew. Just off Bedford Square, this area of London was home to the famous Bloomsbury Set, which included writer Virginia Woolf and economist John Maynard Keynes.

Culpepper Community Garden

Culpeper Community Garden is a beautiful public open space in the heart of Islington, London, which serves both as a city park and as an environmental community project. Managed by and for local people, it is a unique project where people from all walks of life come together to appreciate and enhance their environment.

Surrounded by roads and a busy shopping area, Culpeper is often described as 'an oasis'. Children and adults alike love to explore the pathways, ponds and wealth of plants. It's a perfect place for a picnic or simply for relaxing.

The organic garden comprises a lawn, ponds, rose pergolas, ornamental beds, vegetable plots, seating and a wildlife area. It contains 50 plots including 2 raised beds for disabled gardeners: these small gardens are for community groups, children, and for people living nearby who do not have gardens. Tending the garden is a communal effort by garden members and volunteers.

Culpeper has won many awards over the years, including 'best display in a public space in London', awarded by the London Gardens Society, 1999, 2000 and 2002, and 'Best Communal Garden in London', awarded by London in Bloom, 2003.

A garden member amongst the greenery 

Golders Green Crematorium
Golders Green Crematorium has been the final destination for an amazing list of the talented and famous. It is one of the best known crematoria in the world, and the oldest in London, having been opened in 1902, 17 years after cremation was legalised in Britain.

Though it is located by a Jewish cemetery, it is secular, so the type of service of remembrance and music played are entirely up to the relatives and friends of the deceased.
Michael Foot is not the first in his illustrious family to be interred there. His nephew, the radical journalist Paul Foot, drew a crowd that stretched almost the entire length of Hoop Lane at his funeral in 2004.

Others whose ashes are kept there include Sigmund Freud and several other members of the Freud family, Bram Stoker, the writer who created Dracula, Lionel Bart, who composed Oliver!, the novelist Kingsley Amis, the harmonica player Larry Adler, and the playwright Joe Orton.

There is also Ronnie Scott, founder of London's best-known jazz club, and the jazz musician Ray Ellington, and comedians Peter Sellers, Joyce Grenfell, Irene Handl, Bud Flanagan, Tommy Handley, Sid James, Jimmy Jewel and Bernie Winters.

Kyoto Garden
Kyoto Garden is a Japanese Garden in Holland Park, West Kensington. It was first created in 1991 and was refurbished in 2001. Since its refurbishment it has been described as one of the “three places you will never forget in London”.

Serene setting of Kyoto Garden
Being in Kyoto Garden makes it hard to believe you are actually in London. The serene and tranquil atmosphere and the wide variety of Japanese trees, plants, and fish is a completely different experience to any other London garden.

The garden’s main feature is its large pond with stepping stones and a waterfall. The pond is full of money (thrown in my people making wishes) and unusual Japanese fish.
Around the pond are many rocks engraved with Japanese writing, and lots of beautiful plants and trees in a diverse range of colours.

St Mary's Secret Garden

 St Mary’s Secret Garden is situated in a quiet back street in Shoreditch and it comes as a welcome surprise to discover this verdant enclave amongst the dense maze of streets and housing that surround it. Yet two hundred years ago, this area North of Old St was the preserve of market gardens and nurseries, before the expansion of the city rendered what was once commonplace as the exception.
In 1986, some volunteers cultivated plants upon a piece of wasteground and, twenty-five years later, there are well-established trees and a density of luxuriant growth that propose a convincingly leafy grove worthy of being described as a secret garden. You walk through the gate and you leave the realm of concrete and enter the realm of plants. Here nature is not something to be eradicated but is encouraged, where the enclosing trees induce a state of calm and urban anxieties retreat.
One overcast August morning, with fine rain blowing in the wind, I walked over to spend a morning at this Shoreditch Eden. I followed a path through an overarching stand of hazels with beehives in a line, leading round to the greenhouse and an old market barrow used to display plants for sale, while beyond this lay a vegetable garden organised in raised beds and a peaceful herb garden with a huge bay tree at the centre, with plants selected for their scent and texture.
Once you have made this journey you are at the centre of St Mary’s Secret Garden, and when I sat here alone to contemplate the peace, an hour passed before I realised it. Clearly it is not just me that finds gardens therapeutic because, as well being open to the public, St Mary’s runs gardening sessions for people with disabilities of all kinds. Horticultural therapy is the smart name for it.

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