This page is for our volunteer scheme aimed at returning Charlton House’s fabulous walled garden the “Old Pond Garden” back to its former colourful glory. And now expanding into the other gardens! Volunteer sessions run Tuesdays 2-4pm and Thursdays 10am-12 . Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining the volunteers and would like to find out more. All skills welcome.
PLANT SALES TABLE: We now have a permanent table by the Old Pond Garden iron gates where surplus plants can be bought or donated. Cash can be given when the Volunteers are there, otherwise please use our Just Giving page:https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/cabahs
August: Bank holiday weekend was enlivened with a play “Family Tree” performed in the gardens, as part of the Greenwich & Docklands International Festival. Based on the life of Henrietta Lacks, it certainly lit up the garden!
Garden Plan: Here is our Garden Plan for the Old Pond Garden, with many thanks to Jason Carty Garden Design. We are about 90% complete and have been gradually stocking up with these plants, from various nurseries including Provender Nurseries, who have generously given us a trade discount (https://www.provendernurseries.co.uk/)
You can download the full planting list here:
A very tall flowering plant which is just coming out in the garden, has been catching the attention of visitors and volunteers alike. It is Vernonia arkansana ‘Mammuth’ and was featured this week on Gardeners World when Nick Bailey visited Knoll Gardens. Very appropriate as we bought our own Vernonia from Knoll Gardens back in May!
Volunteers were in the garden for the borough’s Together21 Festival. Very sad for visitors that it was such a drizzly day, but at least the garden liked all the water. Spirits not dampened but umbrellas were up!
This is our bargain plant of the month – a Lysimachia clethroides specimen bought for £10 at Members’ recent trip to RHS Hyde Hall, and now split into 23 new plantlets. Filled up the whole corner of one bed, we are just so thrifty!
The garden is getting into it’s summer swing now, so much is in flower. It is amazing how complete it looks for a “first year”. Penstemon Garnet is just going on and on and on!
This is the view in July from the CABAHS 70th Anniversary bench:
A new initiative – Star Plant of the Week. No contest, it was the teasels this week, they are gigantic, and covered in bees.
Betony and Phlox demonstrating The Clash!
And now it’s the turn of the Echinacea purpurea “Magnus”, with white Erigeron annuus frothing at the back and a yellow Patrinia photo-bombing in the front.
June 30th: The Pomegranate is flowering in the Peace Garden (top left) the stag beetles are hatching and marching, there is a lovely Malope “Vulcan” annual in the Long Borders (bottom left) and the gravel garden has a new addition of Geum Totally Tangerine to add some more zing!
Our Papaver orientale “Burning Heart” have exploded into flower this week. They are fabulous plants, look at the size of them! They came as bare roots, all the way from West Lothian. Thank you Binny Plants. ( https://binnyplants.com/ )
Thursday June 3rd – National Volunteers Week – thank you for the muffins Charlton House!
Rheum and foxgloves in the Long Border. (Foxgloves courtesy of Greenwich Park – thank you!)
Sunday 30th May – Our Plant Sale and Community Day was a great success – all those pleas were answered and the sun did come out. Thank you so much to everyone who donated plants or gave their time on the day to help. This was the biggest plant sale CABAHS has ever held, and has raised over £950 for the Hospice, plus more funds to continue the garden revival.
The stalls all set up, selling about to start!
The Pot up a Plant table
A Young Explorer about to go on the Discovery Trail around the gardens
A “Mayor of London” Birch tree going to a new home.
Are we doing well?
A really good day!
Bird bath being used, and our lovely Cotinus (Smoke Bush) is coming out.
The rainiest May for years, wet volunteers still working away. (They come for the Lotus biscuits at half time…) The gravel garden looks rather good in the rain actually. But for heaven’s sake when is that Alianthus (Tree of Heaven) going to come into leaf? It’s almost as slow as the Mulberry.
The gardens opened to the public on April18th for our “Bunnies in the Beds” Easter trail, and a plant sale in the Long Borders. We were very impressed to receive a visit from keen gardener, the Mayor of Greenwich, Linda Bird. The gardens are now open Mon-Fri 10-4pm.
More pics below: top right is Viv in front of her re-located driveway, now the gravel garden. And the bottom left picture is of Bunny number 4, Borage, or Panic Bunny as he is better known since we discovered rather late that there was no Borage in the Peace Garden, so we had to hastily plant some!
Flowers out! And thirsty bees out too.
March 18th: The Rockery Ladies.. Making a good start on the Rockery weeding, might need a bigger fork next time!
What a turn out for the Long Border. We had peak Volunteer numbers, on a rather wet and nasty day. Thank you so much to everyone who came along, hope you come back (and please bring nicer weather!)
The start of a Bird Bath in the central bed! Thank you to the chain gang..
March 16th: The potting-up team
The Long Borders Party
We even had a canine volunteer today, being good as gold (no squirrels around luckily!)
March 9th: So nice to see volunteers back in the garden. A great weeding and planting session.
Primroses, Epimedium and Hellebores
February 5th: Tree Surgeon visit! Amber Tree Care have done a great job:
January 26th: Another check in visit, snow still lying on the ground today, there are surprising frost pockets in this garden, although it is all clear by the walls.
Foxy footprints giving away the culprit! Our teasels have all been teased to bits, we wish Mr Fox would just go back to chewing the plant labels..
January 19th: Doing a weekly check in, here is the most beautiful Lenten rose, Hellebore orientalis, in the Sensory Garden. Not a rose at all, it is a member of the buttercup family.
January 4th: While taking down the Christmas wreaths, we spotted all these in flower in the garden. The Sarcoccca (sweet box, bottom left corner) smells wonderful.
Dec 15th: A great day for gardening! Lots of planting was done, path clearing was started, and as for the gate decoration – getting really festive now. Mince pies (from Charlton Bakehouse) at half-time were much appreciated.
The CABAHS bench, to commemorate our Platinum (70th) Anniversary, in situ. A lovely shady spot to look forward to next summer. We think perhaps a Trachelospermum climber up the back wall..
Dec 2nd: A wet and chilly session, but good to be back after Lockdown II.
22 October: Our Oak-leaved Hydrangea is turning a lovely colour. Look what has taken up residence in it – a crab spider. Apparently they camouflage themselves but it takes a few days to change colour – this one must have been in a white flower recently!
20 October: Another glorious Autumn day! Lots of volunteers and a bit of sun, what more do you want? We discovered the friendly Greenwich Carers cafe in the Stables next door. Bring your own cup/mug.
13 October: Heroic (and very wet) volunteers in the garden today. A lot of the plants from our shopping trip to Provender Nurseries (https://www.provendernurseries.co.uk/) are now in place. We really appreciated extra help from students from the University of Greenwich, who sportingly also got very wet. Donations of cinnamon buns from Charlton Bakehouse ( https://charltonbakehouse.com/ ) went down well. Thank you everyone. The picture below will be used as a “Before” picture – so looking forward to taking some “After” pictures next year!
28 Sept: A lesson and/or debate on how to plant a shrub! These are the Pittosporum “Tom Thumb” being planted.
25 Sept: Starting to plant things instead of just weeding and pulling up. This picture shows newly planted clumps of Lily Turf (Liriope muscari) looking happy under the Tree of Heaven. The Lily Turf was kindly donated by a CABAHS member.
We are ordering 2,000 bulbs of Narcissus Tete a Tete and Thalia, for some Spring colour, these should arrive in a week or so. Lots of planting to do!
Our 27th August volunteer session became “Game of Gardens: Destroying the Iron Phormium Throne” This was the end for the last Phormium in the central beds, but it went in style..
Older News from the Volunteer sessions:
Remember the central lavender bed..?
Back in June, we met Vlad the Beekeeper, who looks after the hives on the roof of Charlton House. He gave us some great advice about what flowers his bees like. You can download the recommended list of bee-friendly plants here:BestPlantsForBeesMatrix
A bit about the project and the history of the garden:
Members meet every month at Charlton House and most people know a bit about the history of this fine Jacobean house (built 1612). But a lot less is known about the walled gardens to the side of the Library, even though they are almost as old as the house.
Doesn’t this make you think of The Secret Garden? Go through the gate and stand in a 400 year old garden..
An early view of the gardens is shown on a map by Thomas Reynolds, from 1784, which shows a walled area to the side of the house, much as it is today and called “Floral gardens” (C)
Great detail about the gardens is given in an article by the 9th Baronet Sir John Maryon-Wilson, who was a botanist! He wrote to the Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener in January 1885, and he tells of Gaillardia, Phlox, pinks, violas and other showy annuals, a fig tree and pear trees up the walls.
Most references to the walled gardens suggest they were “productive gardens” rather than the traditional kitchen gardens you might expect. (The main kitchen gardens were to the south of the house where Canberra Road is now). So they have probably mostly been used as floral cutting gardens, and for herbs and tender vegetables and seed raising.
The house and gardens were sold to Greenwich Council in 1920 and have been used as a fantastic community resource and sportsfields ever since. Local people will remember when the Old Pond Garden had an actual pond in it, as shown in this photo from the 1950’s (courtesy of our member Andrea). See how many benches there were, and the tidy bedding areas at the back, it was a lovely place to sit and play.
The Old Pond Garden fell into disrepair and was last planted up in 2005, by professional garden designers Fisher Tomlin & Bowyer, when the pond area was replaced with a sea of lavender, and the surrounding plants included sculptural bronze Phormiums and low maintenance plants such as Achilleas, hardy Geraniums and Sedums.
Below is a picture of the garden in February 2020, when we started to look into a volunteer scheme for it. Some lovely Hellebores out, and much evidence of the sedums and geraniums pushing through, but definitely in need of some tender loving care!
Come and visit the garden, the more people to use it the better. Email us at email@example.com if you would like to help or would like to be added to our newsletters.
Hope to see you there! CABAHS Old Pond Garden sub-committee.