From a dumpy bag of dirt, reclaimed from deconstruction work, this tissue-petalled beauty has arisen. We did not sow it. Since the garden was created in 1984 and the first plants here were grown, seeds have been gathering in the soil, to bide their time and wait for the chance to burst into life. Some species, like this Field Poppy, we may not see for years at a time. Only able to grow on disturbed ground, they spring up to mark where we've been working. In a few short weeks it will be dead, but it will have invested in the future by then, for soon the poppy's pepper-pot heads will be scattering seeds by the thousand, to top up the seed bank for the years to come.
Perched atop our brick pile is this healthy group of Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum, covered in a confetti of small pink flowers, busy with bees and pretty as anything. Rooted into little more than woodlouse poop, it shows just how tough and adaptable this native annual is. Growing in sun, shade, damp or dry, it will spring up wherever it can get a foothold. Ferociously fecund, each plant will produce countless seeds, flinging them far and wide. For some it's a frustrating weed. Here, in the main, it gently jostles for space, moving round the garden as it constantly claims new ground - lots get tugged out and fed to the compost heap. Annual it may be but it is a perennial presence in the garden - just as well we like it so much.
Open Squares Weekend - 11th & 12th June 2011
Every June the garden takes part in London Open Garden Squares Weekend. The weekend is organised by London Parks and Gardens Trust and is a great opportunity to explore many of London's private gardens - the majority of the participating gardens are private squares and this is the only opportunity for non-key holders to have a look round.
The Phoenix, being open access every day of the year, closes to the general public for the weekend and is only open to Open Squares ticket holders. This year was very busy with over 300 visitors on the Saturday alone, so it is a great opportunity for garden volunteers to show off the results of all the hard work they do throughout the year to keep the Phoenix Garden running.
The Open Squares visitors are viewing the garden alongside other gardens, many that have planting budgets we can only dream of, so it is good to get all the feedback and to hear how we stand up to the competition. Many visitors are amazed that the garden is open to the public as a matter of course and there are many compliments regarding the planting and the design - of course I already know we are the best!
Garden volunteers also run a refreshments tent selling teas, coffees and home-made cakes, and they were run off their feet keeping up with demand!