Celebrating little known green spaces in London
Nature-ist: Nightingale Gardens
What is it? A formal garden fallen into wondrous wild neglect.
Where is it? If you follow the New River path from Palmers Green to Stamford Hill it goes underground courtesy of the Wood Green tunnel around Palmerston Road, N22. The route continues overground with a series of parks and greened paths. Once you reach Bounds Green Road you are confronted with firstly, a load of traffic steaming into Wood Green from the North Circular, but use the pedestrian crossing and you're in front of Nightingale Gardens, like a dilapidated gateway to Alexandra Palace station and park beyond.
Why has it tickled our fancy? It must once have been a properly planted rose garden but no one's done any gardening round here in a while.
Nature notes: The roses still bloom in a blowsy and rampant fashion, accompanied by enormous guerilla hollyhocks towering over them. Wildflowers have taken root in cracks in the broken paving and sprung up intertwined with other bushes.
Butterflies and bees were having a lovely time in amongst all the colourful flowers. We snapped one bee dozing in a flower cup, covered in pollen and fat on nectar.
UPDATE SEPT 2011: Caroline got in touch to tell us the hollyhocks are her work:
I threw the seeds around there some years ago now and, with a bit of looking after, they have done well! The seeds come from my garden in Bowes Park, but in 2002 my seeds came from the hollyhocks on the Corniche and the Cataract Hotel in Aswan, Egypt. I imagine the seeds for the original ones came from the UK around 1899 when the hotel was built by Thomas Cook.
Anyone who would like some seeds for their own garden or another bit of guerilla gardening - just collect some from the dead flowers late August and early September.
There is a lone bench in tact - others have been removed over time. It's at the back providing a great hiding place for a quiet sit and think or a sneaky fag during school break (we imagine). It's also how we know the place is - or was - called Nightingale Garden, since it's still faintly imprinted on it.
View Londonist's Guide to Hidden Parks and Gardens in a larger map
Last Updated 08 August 2011