At Croften Park station, the local community and the Thameslink team came together to celebrate the official opening of their ‘blooming’ gorgeous railway garden at the weekend.
As they admired the newly created urban oasis, families enjoyed a mini fete on Saturday 1 June.
Containing more than 100 species of plants, the garden was officially opened by its designer Mark Lane along with councillor Sophie McGeevor, who is a Cabinet Member responsible for environment, waste, recycling, parks and green spaces at Lewisham Council.
In 2012 work to transform the overgrown site began, but it continued with renewed energy in 2015 when the Community Gardeners signed a Station Partnership Agreement with Thameslink parent company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), formalising a commitment between the gardeners and the company to rejuvenate the area.
The small team of enthusiastic gardeners have worked hard to source the £80,000 needed to transform the site. The money paid for essentials such as surveys, design work and landscaping. Seven skip loads of rubbish had to be cleared from the area before they could even get to work on landscaping.
By January 2018, the Community Gardeners formalised their organisation into a Friends Group, with the aim of maintaining the station’s community garden. Then in October of that year, BBC Gardeners’ World presenter and landscape garden designer, Mark Lane, helped with the detailed design.
Fast forward just over a year and gardening firm Verde Landscapes took just nine weeks to bring the vision to fruition in time for Easter 2019.
Finishing touches were then made ahead of the official opening on Saturday. It attracted crowds of people of all ages. The day kicked off with the younger helpers planting a hazel hedge around the woodland space.
The sensory garden has been designed to appeal to our sense of smell, taste, touch and hearing. Containing has edible plants, such as a blackcurrant bush, garlic plants and nasturtiums. Long grasses have been planted in the center to create a calming rustle as they blow in the breeze.
Adding to the calm is also the scent coming from the lavender pathway. Particularly appealing to children are the various trees offering different bark textures from the sycamore to the elder tree.
GTR’s corporate social responsibility manager Katherine Cox said:
“The volunteers have done an absolutely amazing job. It used to be an unloved area, a really overgrown mess, and they have turned it into an urban oasis. A lot of local people and businesses have been involved, and this in turn has given a boost to the sense of community in the area. They have created a space where people can come together and enjoy a moment of peace and relaxation.”
Kay Pallaris, who is treasurer of the Friends of Crofton Park Railway Garden, said:
“I think all the volunteers have a sense of pride in what has been achieved following the hours of digging up rubbish. The best part is when people come in and say ‘wow!’ Everyone who walks by actually notices it and some have commented on how it has really improved the area. Someone even said ‘it just makes me happy seeing it’.”
Crofton Park station manager Davide Serafino said:
“It’s fantastic. Let’s hope people enjoy it and respect it.”