It is said by long-term residents that the pocket woodland at the centre of the Spurgeon Estate has been locked for 22 years. This potential haven of tranquility just behind South Lambeth Road, was littered with dangerous dilapidated structures and broken benches. The daunting task of reversing decades of neglect began on Big Dig Day, 29th April, 2019. Removing rotting wooden posts lining the paths and digging out metal stays of long-since decayed seating, had to be done with a mini-digger and breaker, with the Father Nature team in the driving seat. Then, the newly formed Lambeth Landscapes team moved in with chainsaws and climbing harnesses to fell a couple of diseased trees and thin the canopy of the other mature trees in order to allow more light into the garden. The pocket woodland was now being restored to a more natural state with sunlight able to reach into the undergrowth and gently sloping path borders in place of the previous rigid landscape structures. The long process of introducing wildflowers and grasses for pollinators can now begin, as well as a planting plan for an edible forest garden along permaculture principles. To protect the health of residents and wildlife, we have declared the garden a pesticide-free zone and the residents’ association will manage maintenance. Irrigation is the next major challenge as all water sources have been cut off or fallen into disrepair. The architects of the Spurgeon Estate did build a watering system into the grounds, fed by three large water tanks. It is still there but unfortunately was disconnected many years ago. We are hoping to restore it and harvest rainwater from the residential tower block to irrigate the grounds of the estate. Raised beds for fruit and vegetables are well under way, along with improving accessibility to all areas, building communal composting sites and introducing an apiary.
Winner of Against the Odds Category, Blooming Lambeth Awards 2019