Garden delights

Now that Spring is officially here, you may be hankering to get out and immerse yourself in the greenery and blossom that is starting to burst forth. Although we are surrounded by the city, there are plenty of opportunities in South London to enjoy nature. Here are a few suggestions, some better known than others:

South London Botanical Institute, 323 Norwood Road, SE24 (close to Tulse Hill Station). Approached through a small conservatory with its collection of carnivorous plants, the garden boasts a medicinal border, plants from the Southern hemisphere, as well as British native species, unusual trees, a pond with native wetland plants and a moss trail. There is an open garden day on Thursdays 11.00am – 4.00pm plus the institute runs a calendar of events and talks.

Lucas Gardens, entrance on Peckham Road. A gently sloping site with winding paths and native trees, ornamental trees, flower beds and a water feature. It occupies the grounds of a former terrace of Georgian houses.

Agnes Riley Gardens, Atkins Road, SW12. This medium-sized open space offers lawns, trees and herbaceous beds. It also contains a small pond at its centre, probably a remnant of the original gardens of Oakfield House, which is now managed for its wildlife interest. There are play areas and a small community garden.

Eardley Road Sidings, Bates Crescent, Streatham Vale. Managed as a nature reserve, this small, enclosed woodland has been reclaimed from old railway land. Abandoned in the 1960s it shows how industrial land can be transformed to an important wildlife site.

Dulwich Picture Gallery – written about here previously, the Gallery has a three-acre garden which is open all year. An added bonus is a café with outdoor seating to enjoy the better weather. The gallery is also close to Dulwich Park with its paths, boating pond, dry garden, winter garden and vegetable garden.

Of course, there is also our own Streatham Common and The Rookery – again with a café to top up the energy levels after a walk. Or the famous Battersea Park with its 200 acres to wander, including a riverside path.

You can also enjoy the delights of the Horniman Museum gardens, Tooting Commons (there are actually two of them – Tooting Bec and Tooting Graveney), Clapham Common, Wandworth Common and Wimbledon Common. You’ll be spoilt for choice.