Walworth Garden is a unique charity dedicated to improving lives through horticulture. Open to everyone, their award-winning gardens provide an oasis in the heart of Southwark. It’s a place where people come to relax, learn and grow. Gardening can be a lifetime companion but finding the time and vision to create your own personal idyll can seem an arduous chore. With 30 years of experience building and growing functional, biodiverse gardens, the team at Walworth Garden, a charity established in 1987 to provide welfare and education in South East London, can transform gardens and balconies of any size and location, providing solutions that combine modern living with environmental responsibility.
During the 2020 pandemic, the London Freemasons Charity awarded a £10,000 grant to this organisation which has a School of Horticulture and training centre running accredited City & Guilds courses. Its aim is to build student confidence and motivation, and provide the skills needed to work in horticulture and gardening. Many of its students go on to full-time employment, some making a successful career in horticulture. The training provided covers, among other things, plant propagation, pest and disease control, pruning, equipment handling and maintenance, and health and safety.
The Central Courtyard has been covered and re-landscaped. New all-weather, self-binding gravel allows the charity to welcome visitors, even in the depths of winter when the area would otherwise have been covered in mud. This work placed great demands on staff and volunteers alike, including the excavation and disposal of large tracts of the existing land and the laying of tons of hardcore. The hard-wearing and permeable surface has made a huge improvement to the site.
Working on the basis that most wildlife exists primarily in the shallows of any water system, volunteers dug a large, shallow, wildlife pond. Once filled, wildlife began arriving almost immediately, with birds swooping down for a drink and to bathe, and bees resting on the rocks to take a drink.
CEO and Chief Gardener, Oli Haden, informed us that, “to see, touch, smell, hear and in time, to taste. The planting juxtaposes a twenty-five metre native hedge with edibles and ornamentation. In the process of growing food for us and our volunteers, we have ensured, by choosing nectar-rich planting, that insects are also fed.” He especially thanked the London Masons for their generosity.
Tony Shields, of London Freemasons: “This is a hugely important project, bring horticultural training and wildlife into the heart of our community. I’m proud that London Masons are able to give help during this difficult time. I congratulate everyone involved in this magnificent local project and trust that this grant will provide some stability and longevity to your operation during these difficult times. This grant follows on from a recent £2.5 Million to fund two ultra-high aerial platforms and earlier generous donations of £3 million to Bart’s hospital for the purchase of a Cyberknife and £2 million towards the second London Air Ambulance, all of which contribute to saving lives right across this great capital city.”