Old Pond Garden project

This page is for our volunteer scheme aimed at returning one of Charlton House’s fabulous walled gardens the “Old Pond Garden” back to its former colourful glory. 

Please keep an eye on this page for latest updates. Volunteer sessions have stopped for the moment, we will hopefully arrange more sessions in December.  Contact us at cabahshortisoc@gmail.com if you are new to the scheme and would like to come along in future, everyone welcome.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is view-from-the-bench.jpg

Latest News from the garden:

Appeal: Does anyone have Lunaria (Honesty) they can donate? Seedlings big enough to flower in Spring preferably.

Seed Sowers: Can anyone help with growing seeds of Cephalaria gigantea, Patrinia scabiosifolia or Silene armeria Electra? We can supply the seeds, we need people to look after them over winter and bring in the seedlings in Spring. No pressure, give it a go! Contact cabahshortisoc@gmail.com

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!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is oak-spider-1.jpg

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is opg-oct-20-pano.jpg

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is gwchcarers-cafe.jpg

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!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is heroic-volunteers.jpg

28 Sept: A lesson and/or debate on how to plant a shrub! These are the Pittosporum “Tom Thumb” being planted.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is planting-a-shrub.jpg

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is lily-turf-planted-1.jpg

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..

David and the Iron Throne

Planting for the Future

Now that we have established a good (great!) volunteer base and cleared a lot of the central beds, we have started to think of planting plans. We are very grateful to our volunteer Jason Carty who has designed a wonderful planting plan for us. This is not a fixed list yet (what garden ever has that?), but it is a firm base that we can start growing from. We are also incredibly grateful for the support of the Greenwich Neighbourhood Growth Fund, which has awarded us £6,000 for this project. Some of these funds will go towards new benches, tools and tree surgeon work, and a large part will be for buying plants in. But we have a gardening membership which almost certainly has some of these plants in their own gardens, so we will be regularly appealing for stocks and growers.

Here is Jason’s plan, it doesn’t come out very well on the webpage, but it is on display at the garden sessions and the plant list will be emailed around to members later this week, or you can download it here:  OPG Planting List ver Aug 20


Older News from the Volunteer sessions:

Remember the central lavender bed..?

Original, in June


We discover more pathway! The Lavender has overhung by at least 2 feet.


Starting work, on one of the hottest days


We are rather proud of this! All ready for plants…

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. OPG Gate

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)

reynolds-plan-for-charlton-park close up

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.

Andrea in the Pond Garden

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.

2007 Fisher Tomin

Below is a picture of the garden this February.  Some lovely Hellebores out, and much evidence of the sedums and geraniums pushing through, but definitely in need of some tender loving care!

OPG Feb looking at CH


Come and visit the garden (when it opens again), the more people to use it the better. Email us at cabahshortisoc@gmail.com if you would like to help with some gardening or would like to be added to our newsletters.

Hope to see you there! CABAHS Old Pond Garden sub-committee.