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Mixed Borders: first shoots

The project progress / plant growing analogies are proving impossible to resist when titling these reports from our Mixed Borders project. There will only be more terrible gardening double talk to come, I do apologise in advance …

Since we were all matched with our gardens, the members of Mixed Borders have been paying their first visits, talking to their garden owners and planning how they are going to respond to their green spaces between now and the Open Gardens Squares Weekend on 13-14 June.

There are sixteen of us altogether … here’s a handful of the first reports.

Clarissa Aykroyd will be working in the Red Cross Garden which was set out in the late 1880s as ‘an open air sitting room for the people of Southwark’. Here’s her first blog about the residency.


Cow parsley sitting comfortably in St Mary's Secret Garden

Cow parsley sitting comfortably in St Mary’s Secret Garden

Mary Dickins is at St Mary’s Secret Garden – a horticultural therapy garden. She has already written her first poem, an extract of which follows …

My neighbour says that my Ash tree has die-back

He says that my tomato plants carry early blight

He sent a letter to the council about my sinister garden gnomes

He thinks that I climbed his fence and murdered his wisteria

He says that I once planted onions on his lawn

My neighbour thinks I am in league with aphids and killing all the bees


Duck swimming into poetic focus.

Duck swimming into poetic focus.

John Grant’s garden is the one belonging to Osterly House, the last remaining country estate in London – magnificent wisteria pictured above. John’s got the first draft of a long poem recording his first visit – here’s a taste … ‘The driveway splits green fields, / arrows past small horses, who have / nothing to do but watch me walk by. / They know the sign says not to feed them.


The Poetry School’s own Will Barrett will be resident in Eastbury Manor House Walled Garden and is currently researching Tudor Herbals in search of inspiration.


More poetic produce to follow over the coming weeks.


  • Ann Perrin

    I was lucky enough to get The Postman’s Park in the city, rushed off in the rain to see it as was to be away for a week. Absolutely brill. Sebastian was making a new lawn with orange netting, two mates busy on their knees doing lawn laying stuff I guess. Plants, goldfish, rustle of trees etc. And Hazel busy learning to be a guide looking at those amazing plaques, before she had to rush off to be a visiting grandmother. But she told me about a film that had featured the park. As luck would have it picked up the dvd for £2 at a charity shop next day! Umm not sure I liked it really but it had a park connection. But those plaques – what a host of fantastic stories! My partner worked at King Edward building when it was owned by Royal Mail now it’s a bank, umm, a bit emotional for him. But I’m just so excited about it all and going back soon.

  • Julia Bird (Poetry School Staff)

    Fantastic! Looking forward to more reports …

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