Something a little special in Spencer Road

Last Thursday number 7 Spencer Road, situated by Wandsworth Common in London was open for the National Garden Scheme, an evening opening beginning at 5.30pm.

It so happens that I look after my grandson on a Thursday nearby so it seemed an opportunity not to miss, with the added fact of course, the young chap was keen to accompany me.

The entry in the Garden Visitor’s Handbook describes it as the ‘garden designer’s experimental ground’ and with a quirky quince winding up in front of the window on the street side, it promised to be an intriguing garden.

A touch of topiary compliments the terracotta pots on the front steps which are filled with Cleome hassleriana ‘White Queen’ combined with the dainty white Euphorbia hypericifolia ‘Diamond Frost’

We hurry through the narrow, thankfully uncluttered walkway to the left of the front door ever anxious to explore what is beyond.

Young Alfie allows just a second for me to pause and read the notice; I am not quite sure if it is a warning or indeed an apology.

Then in that way of secret gardens we find ourselves in an inviting explosion of branches and verdant leaves. It is a compact space and I am glad we made the decision to leave the pushchair at home.

No lawns here but a glorious variety of plants through which stone steps and a narrow, natural looking path are laid; slightly off centre it has a way of encouraging those small feet to hurry along.

Several visitors are already here chatting and admiring the rich planting in this beautiful space but that does not deter the grandson as he slips through their legs

clutching his friend Piglet.

The garden is long and thin and faces north-east. We are very careful not to tread on the tapestry of foliage and flower growing at ground level.

For the not so small visitor there is much to see at eye level, horizontal and vertical shapes with a gentle dabb of colour.

The ultimate destination is the sunroom situated at the far end of the garden; it was built at an angle to reach the later lower light of the south-west winter sun.

High up on the corner of the roof is a plant in a pot and garden-owner Christopher Masson feels that in London gardens, such pots should be raised up high.

Around every corner there are beautiful combinations of containers, plants and structures,

cleverly arranged to give height, interest and an elegance of antiquity.

As those little legs explore the garden we are naturally attracted to the pond, calming and restful,

the sound of water gently trickling over the stone plinth is mesmerising.

There is that rose again, my favourite I have seen it everywhere this year and seemingly always in flower; it is Bengal Beauty.

Places to sit and relax are positioned to capture those precious moments in the sun,

just a perfect spot to nibble a pork pie.

The garden is planted specifically to be enjoyed in late summer; Eucomis, Dahlia and Plumbago are a joy at this time of year.

It has been a good year for Salvias and they will continue to flower on into the Autumn.

Not yet in flower is the bewitching Tibouchina urvilleana commonly known as the Glory Bush. It is new to me but Wikipedia tells me that it comes from Brazil

and shows a picture of a stunning flower.

We haven’t time to stay too long, as Piglet says it’s time for bed. So we leave Christopher Masson sharing his expertise in his glorious ‘experimental ground’, his own ‘hundred acre wood’.

We have had good fun, both of us in our different ways; never too early to share our love of garden visiting and I think how fortunate we are that the National Garden Scheme allows children to enter without charge.

15 thoughts on “Something a little special in Spencer Road

  1. Lovely story… it seems you have found another under-gardener… maybe they can take shifts as you are so hard to keep up with… now, next garden, please?


  2. What a joy dear Julia to sit up in bed reading about the garden in Spencer Park and Piglet’s adventures in it. Radio firmly turned off on that rabble we call Parliament! Xxx Anthea

    Sent from my iPhone


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  3. How lovely, divine grandchild. Please keep on doing these blogs, I really enjoy them, and I loved the one of your garden especially. Love Sally

    Sent from my iPad


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  4. Many thanks once again Julia for sharing your latest peregrinations with us. As a gardener with a small town garden myself, it’s of great interest to see how others make the most of their own challenging growing spaces. The plant Tibouchina urvilleana, with which you were unfamiliar, I have grown and valued for many years. It does indeed hail from South America. It’s an invaluable ornamental plant asset for a small garden, with its continuous, glorious, late summer and autumn flowers. It must be grown in a pot so that it can be overwintered in good light (otherwise it will become ‘etiolated’) and protected from frosts.

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  5. How delightful to dip into a town garden , with a young apprentice, Late summer flowering is uplifting . I especially liked the welcoming look to the steps leading to the front door . It’s good to share ideas with likeminded folk . Photography excellent as always . Thank you Julia .

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  6. What a sweet little lad whom you call “young chap,” such an English thing to say. I love it! “Chap” lends dignity to the child’s person. So many people stateside call children “kid,” which I feel is so denigrating and, well, grating.

    About the garden, delightful scenes, all, but especially the “broken brick” walkway. It gives me an idea of the pattern for laying a path curving from the entrance and around through the front gate to the gardens in back. That’s my fall project. Thank you!


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