It is entirely due to the hard work and commitment of residents past and present that we have three beautiful gardens. In 1983 there was a lawn in front of Northfield House and at the back were two disused tarmac clothes drying areas filled with rubbish from mattresses and fridges to old tyres and household waste. The residents of Northfield House cleared and dug over the two drying areas and designed and built two gardens with the help of British Telecom (telegraph poles) English Nature and others. The front garden was planted with trees, a hedge and developed as a wildflower meadow and fairs were held there.

For more than 30 years the residents and the TRA have put in many hours of hard work to ensure that Northfield House has its three precious green spaces, which have been recognised as sites of environmental importance by Southwark Council. Our intention has always been to encourage the return of the wildlife that lost their homes when the Surrey Canal (which used to run alongside Northfield House) was filled in and built over – while at the same time providing areas where residents old and young can relax and enjoy themselves. These gardens are for all residents to use and the continued help of residents is vital to their maintenance.

As well as holding social events in the gardens, the TRA organises regular work days, such as spring and autumn garden days, litter picking and planting days. These are a great way to get to know your neighbours, getting children involved, and getting to know the gardens.

We’d like to ask that all residents ensure that the gardens are treated with respect – that plants are not damaged, branches not broken from trees (this can severely shorten a tree’s life), and that litter is taken away or put in the many bins provided. Parents, please remind your children of these points. More use of the gardens, especially over summer, means that the potential for damage is greater. The gardens are maintained by residents (this could be you, on our regular garden working days) and are in no way taken care of by Southwark Council. If they are damaged, that takes away from the enjoyment of residents and makes them less pleasant places to be.

We’d also like to ask that ground floor residents to bear in mind that the ornamental garden patches on the carpark edges are there for the benefit of all residents. As well as making the place look better, they form a barrier to both noise and carpark pollution, and are community (not private) property. Lately, a few of these plants have been damaged or removed by residents. If a plant is causing issues (eg blocking light, scratching cars) outside your property, please report it to the TRA and we can help get it trimmed if necessary.

The Meadow & Orchard – The front garden, by Peckham Park Road, was designed as a wildflower meadow and we have planted an orchard in the centre. This is a lovely area for children to play in and learn about the natural world at first hand. But please be gentle with the fruit trees. Because of the special environmental nature of the meadow, it is looked after by specialist gardeners from the Trust for Urban Ecology (TRUE) several times a year. The hedges along the street form a barrier to reduce noise and pollution, and a couple of times a year, the members of the TRA pick up the litter that has accumulated to ensure they remain beautiful. If you are wondering about the hump in the middle of the garden, between the fruit trees and the bus stop – that is where there used to be an old bomb shelter, built during World War 2, but now filled in.

Tom & Emily’s Garden – Tom and Emily were long term residents of Northfield House and keen supporters of the gardens project. They have now sadly passed away and the garden at the back by Frensham Street is named in their honour. Part of Tom and Emily’s Garden has been set aside for residents to grow vegetables. The grass area in the middle is an ideal space for parties and barbecues when the sun is out.

Hop Garden – This three-sided garden near the Peckham Park Road entrance has been specifically designed to have native trees and plants and to encourage wildlife to visit. It is an ideal place for quiet reflection or chatting with friends.

We now have three beautiful green spaces full of birds, bees, flowers and fruit. Please feel free to enjoy them, and of course please clear up afterwards. Please don’t pick the flowers or damage the trees and bushes. There are many of us and only a few plants.