Chelsea Fringe – London Garden No. 0.5

Five Minutes Peace: a garden to sit in, a poem to read, and a prompt to write to … No 1. 

I know I don’t officially start until tomorrow, but I CAN’T WAIT!

chelsea fringe logoSo I’m also cheating because here is a garden that isn’t really a garden…



I hope so. About two weeks ago, I went on a walk round my own homeground, Fitzrovia, with the Old Map Man (aka Ken Titmuss). The idea of these walks is that you mooch around an area of modern London using 17th and 18th century maps to guide you. It’s a fascinating way to see the different layers to a place you think you know well.


One of Ken’s maps from the mid-17th century showed how most of Fitzrovia was little more than fields and farms bordered by Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street. Food and vegetables came into the centre from a road named ‘The Green Lane’. Here it is a little closer.


And the bones of that road still remain, albeit joined now by hundreds of others. It’s not called The Green Lane anymore because… surprise surprise, it’s Cleveland Street. To be honest, there aren’t many places there to write or read in peace but it’s still a street that’s not short of literary inspiration because the Cleveland Street Workhouse (facing a current demolition dispute) was apparently the inspiration behind Charles DickensOliver Twist, and the author lived just a little further up the street.


A nice distraction but I was on the look out for garden and nature inspiration, so it was particularly pleasing to find, just 100 metres off Cleveland Street in Riding House Street, this pub.

green man

I really hope it got its name because of its proximity to the original London Green Lane.

green man

But in any case, it is a brilliant excuse to share one of my favourite poems:

Green Man in the Garden

Charles Causley

Green man in the garden

Staring from the tree,

Why do you look so long and hard

Through the pane at me?

Your eyes are dark as holly,

Of sycamore your horns,

Your bones are made of elder branch,

Your teeth are made of thorns.

Your hat is made of ivy leaf,

Of bark your dancing shoes,

And evergreen and green and green

Your jacket and shirt and trews.

Leave your house and leave your land

And throw away the key,

And never look behind, he creaked,

And come and live with me.

I bolted up the window,

I bolted up the door,

I drew up the blind that I should find

The green man never more.

But as I softly turned the stair

As I went up to bed,

I saw the Green man standing there.

Sleep well, my friend, he said.

Hmm, that never fails to make me shiver at the end.

And now I invite you to write something yourself…

Describe the colours in your garden, or where you might be sitting, through another sense. So the red of the rose might be the heat of fire on your skin, the blue of the bluebell in the woods could remind you of the sound of cymbals in a school orchestra, the white of the magnolia is the taste of ice cream…


Here’s a poem I remember learning at school that worked along these lines…

I Asked The Little Boy Who Cannot See


I asked the boy who cannot see,

‘And what is colour like?’

‘Why, green,’ said he,

‘Is like the rustle when the wind blows through

The forest; running water, that is blue;

And red is like a trumpet sound; and pink

Is like the smell of roses; and I think

That purple must be like a thunderstorm;

And yellow is like something soft and warm;

And white is a pleasant stillness when you lie

And dream.’


Please feel free to share what you write in the comments sections, or on your own website. And, from tomorrow, you can follow more gardens on the Chelsea Fringe page on this website. Do sign up in the box on the right if you would like this website to appear in your inbox.