Phoenix Farm
Phoenix Farm
 

The lovely thing about gardening is its universal appeal. It does, I think, especially appeal to the young and old. Is it that they have more time to enjoy the slower pace of gardening? This month I looked at two community gardening groups in Hammersmith and asked the head gardeners what they thought.

Phoenix Farm, based in the heart of the White City Estate, is an acre of land dedicated to community gardening and outdoor learning, adjacent to Phoenix High School and is managed by the Hammersmith Community Gardens Association. There is an outdoor classroom, greenhouses, beehives, rabbits and chickens around which are planted fruit and vegetables, herbs, and orchards. It is a hive of activity and an oasis of calm at the same time.

The interesting thing about this award winning garden is its incredibly urban location and its diverse appeal. There are all sorts who garden here. The volunteer sessions attract local residents each week, young and old. It sees many school children weekly, both from Phoenix and local primary schools.

Head gardener at Phoenix, Cathy, said: “The farm was successful in securing funding from Local Food which has meant a full time gardener and a nutritionist are employed. This has increased the scope of the project and the number of people within the local community who can be involved. The partnership between Phoenix High School and HCGA has been very important in the success of the project. The whole community is involved with the project, not just the children who attend Phoenix.”

The vibrancy of the place creates more energy and there are regular events and volunteer gardening sessions from 10 am – 1pm on Tuesdays and Fridays and an annual harvest festival and Spring on the Farm coming up in May. Check the website for details - they have also recently added bees to the menagerie of rabbits and hens.

Cathy said: “Bees are a great learning resource and are fun to watch. It is important for people to learn about pollination and how bees are critical to the production of our food. The farm is a great venue for bees with lots to forage. Some honey may be harvested later in the year.”

Cathy Maund, director of HCGA, and who helped set up Phoenix Farm , said, “It really is one of the jewels in the crown of our gardening areas in Hammersmith. The other being the glasshouses in Ravenscourt Park.” Phoenix Farm has won a Community Green Flag Award, and the London in Bloom, where it achieved ‘outstanding’ in its category.

John Betts House and Sycamore House
John Betts House and Sycamore House
 

Other award winning gardens in Hammersmith are those based at the sheltered and retirement housing in John Betts House and Sycamore House. Run by head gardener Jackie Thompson for Hammersmith United Charities , these are beautiful places where the residents work together to create a lovely relaxing area. Jacky and her team have introduced hedgehogs to eat the slugs and snails. She tries to involve the residents in gardening projects and workshops such as making container planting and bulb planting.

Both John Betts House and Sycamore House have won awards from the London Garden Society.

Jacky says: “Nearly all the residents do some kind of gardening, container mainly, in front of their flats. I do a hanging basket workshop every May and bulb planting in the Autumn. We are also part of Open Gardens Squares Weekend (14-15 June 2014) and this gives us a focus and something to work towards. We also like to meet all the local people who come in to visit us. And we sell cakes and plants”.

Hammersmith-based Sarah Heaton is a horticulturalist, gardener and writer. She specialises in designing gardens and bringing nature to the city. Sarah runs gardening groups at a primary school and a hospital, as well as supports a number of community gardening projects and works on planting schemes for private gardens.

www.sarahheatongardens.com | @sarahheaton4           

Sarah Heaton Gardens
Sarah Heaton Gardens