Secret gardens go on show across H&F

Two award-winning secret gardens are set to throw open their gates and share their colour and fragrance.

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Kate Macdonald, a resident of John Betts House, with her red geraniums

Two award-winning secret gardens normally hidden from public view are set to throw open their gates and share their colour and fragrance in June.

Hammersmith United Charities will showcase the tranquil spaces at its sheltered housing for older people, after winning awards at the London Gardens Society competition.

Visitors will be able to explore the gardens at John Betts House, in Rylett Road, Shepherds Bush, and Sycamore House, in Sycamore Gardens, Hammersmith, during the annual Open Garden Squares Weekend on Saturday 9 June and Sunday 10 June.

Blooming flowers, flowing grasses, fruit and vegetables are just some of the sensory treats at the gardens in Hammersmith, which have been cultivated by the charity’s community gardener Jackie Thompson, along with residents.

Impressing judges with the planting schemes, colour and sustainability, John Betts House’s internal courtyard scooped first prize in the small community gardens category at the London Gardens Society contest, as well as the prestigious Challenge Cup. Meanwhile Sycamore House won third place in the large community gardens category.

“It feels brilliant, because it’s a lot of work. It is judged on RHS guidelines, with points for immediate colour, points for tidiness and cleanliness, points for proper use of plants in the right place and sustainability,” explained Jackie, who joined the charity in 2003 and developed the garden with help from volunteer garden residents.

Dig it

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The secret garden at John Betts House

The secluded garden was used to dump rubble from building work when John Betts House was refurbished in 1998, so digging proved tricky.

However, Jackie and her team of volunteers overcame the challenge by planting above soil level, filling the garden with hanging baskets and raised beds, where residents can plant vegetables and fruits in the summer.

The focal point of the garden is a series of arches, covered with plants and grasses while an array of hanging baskets and pots planted by residents adorn the balconies surrounding the main courtyard garden.

These balconies were also recognised at the London Gardens Society awards, as residents James Geraghty, of Sycamore House, and Clodagh Corcoran, of John Betts House, won third place in the balcony and container displays category.

Clodagh, who has lived at John Betts House for more than four years, explained she loves the peace in the garden.

“I love the garden here. I like looking at the colour, the peace in this garden, you could cut it, it’s so quiet and lovely. There are always tiny birds moving around, very early in the morning picking up insects, its lovely, there’s a whole world out there,” said Clodagh.

“We wouldn't have a garden if it wasn’t for Jackie, she built it from gravel up. Everybody loves the garden, people who come here, and it had never occurred to them to have a flower pot and she has encouraged them.”

The awards for the gardens come as Hammersmith United Charities prepares to celebrate its 400th anniversary in the borough.

“I like that I have created in both places a very nice place to live, that makes people feel at home, that they feel secure and there’s stimulation in colour and texture and perfume,” added Jackie.

“It’s all about creating a home for birds and insects as well, especially in a city it’s really important. It’s like a little hidden paradise.”

Find out more about the gardens at

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The prestigious London Gardens Society contest Challenge Cup

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