Following our successful transformation at Edward Edwards House, we were invited to design a planting scheme for another of Southwark Charities almshouses, in Surrey Square. Over the autumn of 2014, we consulted with residents, and completed the first phase of the works just before Christmas. We stripped roughly 200 square metres of lawn, and converted it into flower beds.

Creating an instant impact in winter can be hard, but we aimed for a planting scheme with lots of scent and colour in the cold months, and which would be impressive when viewed from all three levels of the surrounding terraces. We completed the final phase of the project in the Spring of 2015, creating an aromatic pathway, with thymes, mints and succulents positioned between flagstones. These have also provided a rich nectar source for pollinators, and the site buzzes with bumblebees and hoverflies in the summer.

To fill the gaps inevitable in the first year of a long term planting, we sowed Papaver sominferum (opium poppies) seeds brought over from Afghanistan by one of our collaborators. The rich purples and reds are dazzling, and have attracted vast numbers of pollinators.

The grape vines, jasmine Parthenocissus (Virginia Creeper and Boston Ivy) and roses are establishing in their pots, and starting to creep up the walls. And the artichokes have raced away, some reaching 10 feet already in their first season.

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