Chelsea Fringe – London Garden No 12

Five Minutes Peace: a garden to sit in, a poem to read, and a prompt to write to … No 12. (Find out more about what this is all about here.)

BONNINGTON SQUARE, VAUXHALL

What do you get if you design a garden by committee?

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Well, if you are lucky you will end up with something like Bonnington Square!

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This is one of London’s hidden gems – except it is rightly becoming rather famous. The garden sits in the site of WW2 bomb damage and although at one time it had a children’s playground half-heartedly placed there, it was only in the 1990s – when a builder put in an application to use it as storage – that a residents’ committee was formed to create today’s beautiful sanctuary.

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It really is a place where you can sit, write and read…

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helped with a coffee and cake from one of the pretty cafes around…

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.. unless you are lucky enough to come on the one night a year the industrial wheel turns and brings crystal clear champagne with every circle…

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I visited by day, but I want to go back at night when the trees and garden are lit up by strings of fairy light. Champagne in itself!

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The garden feels like a true work of love, and rather magical, so I’ve chosen this beautiful Chinese poem by Ping-Hsin for it.

**

Love

To escape from thoughts of love,

I put on my fur cloak,

And ran out from the lamp lit silent house.

On a tiny footpath

The bright moon peeps;

And the withered twigs on the snow-clad earth

Across and across, everywhere scrawl “Love”.

**

And I invite you to write about love in the garden today… with a glass of champagne in your hand if you feel like it!

*

Garden enthusiasts will spot the homage Bonnington Square pays to nearby Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, which from the 17th to the 19th century was the premier ‘open garden’ and entertainment in London. Move over the Chelsea Flower Show!

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It’s still an attractive park now, and I was really pleased to see this horse chestnut tree all lit up! I’ve just been reading about the Tradescants, and this was one of the species John Senior brought back – and in fact it helped to make his fortune.

Amazing to think what it must have been like to see this tree in flower for the first time. A garden spectacle indeed.

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