We spent a week transforming a barren concrete courtyard into a thriving community garden filled with over 60 square metres of edible and ornamental planting.

Here we see the 400 square metre courtyard with the first sleeper in position, after our collaborators at Action Now had removed the sequence of metal railings which criss-crossed the site, originally installed to prevent ball games being played.

Over two days, we positioned more than 400 linear metres of softwood sleepers, supplied to us pre-cut by the ever-accommodating Forestrall Timber.

We aligned the design to the existing brickwork grids on site, and re-used some of the railings to create a pergola framing an entrance in one corner.

We were able to host our newest recruit, a local young resident who came to us through the Divert Program when we created the Brixton Orchar, for a whole week of work paid above London Living Wage.

As ever, our growing media was supplied by Bourne Amenity, who custom-mixed a 50:50 blend of topsoil and compost into 30 bulk bags which we rolled onto site on a pallet truck.


We had to cut the old railings down to size in order to create a pergola for climbing plants.

This was Shaquille’s first garden creation and, as a nearby resident, he has continued to visit the completed garden to water and volunteer with the residents.

On the final two days we had community planting sessions, where residents came out to enjoy the incredible sunshine and put the final, and most important finishing touches to the project.

Two months on Caldwell Gardens is looking alive and thriving!


  1. just wanted to say that these newly created garden (2017) is a joy. No one wanted to go into the bare concrete yard before even though we tried to create a garden using large plastic pots – the watering needed in this sun baked area meant that it was very difficult to maintain. Having much larger raised beds with an irrigation system has made all the difference. Many more neighbours are spending time in the new garden enjoying it, watering when needed, harvesting veg and herbs, and watching everything grow. The plants have been partly selected to feed bees and butterflies and both are enjoying the mass of nectar rich plants. I love it. It has transformed the space

  2. From John – the Echium grower. Please come and get seeds if you like. The seeds need to be sown in the place they are to grow otherwise I would grow seedlings for people to plant on, but they dont like being disturbed once they are growing. They self sow seeds gently if they like the place . A wonderful plant which can grow up to around 3.5 meters (about 10 feet), is a wonderful feeding plant for bees and other nectar loving insects. In the first year it does a lot of vegetative growth with a rosette of leaves up to around 1 meter (3 feet) across and in the second year enormous spikes of flowers that flower right through the early summer, then it sets seed and dies, and the new seeded plants take over! Pics: Year 1 vegetative growth http://www.echiumworld.co.uk/growing-echiums.php the grower of this plant transferred it from pot to open ground for flowering in 2nd year so he says.. Year 2 the flowers (which can be pinkish mauve, or blue or white depending on the seeds – ours are pinkish mauve http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/plants/plant_finder/plant_pages/11031.shtml Year 2 this is how tall they can grow https://gardenofeaden.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/echium-pininana.html and some info on growing them. I also have its relative Vipers Bugloss which is another gorgeous plant with bluish flowers with pink stamens also beloved by bees. Caldwell Gardens. You might want to wear gloves when you collect the seed as both leaves and flower stems are covered by hairs that are quite tough.

    • Hi John, thank you very much for the offer, they sound pretty amazing. if you still have the seeds I can see if a colleague is able to pick some up! Meanwhile we will check out the amazing things you are doing! Thanks for sharing!

      • I just saw this, seeds from this last summer’s flowers have fallen and turned in to seedlings, I have found that they can be moved when they are small, you are very welcome to have a few of those, I can try transplanting them in to pots for you, seed again summer 2018. Leave a note on my balcony if I’m not in if you would like some. The updated photos look nice, the garden is a wonderful place and getting better and better. Just need to work out how to fix more leads to the watering system so that it all gets watered evenly. A great amount of bees visited all the summer long, it must be an oasis for them.

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