There is this little green corner in my neighbourhood. You could call it a crescent-shaped park, although the word park might be a bit of an exaggeration as the area is rather small.I’m from Germany originally. Pregnant, I’ve been signed off work as an air hostess (which is not so bad because I still get paid).
I only discovered my secret garden after being here two years, turning away from the beaten track and instead taking a right.
Was it some kind of intuition, my curiosity and love of adventure leading to that hidden little path? I’m not sure, but to reach it I passed the neighbouring houses and the Luther-Tyndale memorial church whose nostalgic tinkling sounds every afternoon.
After a couple of steps I stood in that little green oasis that also hosts a children playground. The park lies amidst my urban district, the Leighton area of NW5, covered by residential houses and only findable for one who knows or stumbles over it one day – like I did.Since I discovered its existence, I’ve become an almost daily visitor. I include it in my jogging round to Hampstead Heath, as a shortcut to Highgate or Tufnell Park, or simply enjoying just sitting in the park on a bench in the sun, daydreaming.
I read that the Gardens were originally the grounds for Montpelier House, opened to the public in 1976 after local residents campaigned to save the adjoining Regency house from demolition. Dating back to 1825, it once boasted “grand views” over to Islington, and in the 20th Century had variously been a rest centre, old people’s home and flats.Now the house is, of course, Montpelier nursery, a beautiful eco building where I really hope to get a place for our child. Where better could our baby be off than in our neighbourhood’s hidden garden, playing in the green, only ten steps from home?
The garden appears like a fragment of an idyllic world, an oasis in the busy urban environment where all troubles seem to be far away.
Recently they constructed an information booth in the park where residents could go and discuss how they imagined the garden to be. As I passed, I could pick up some words being spoken, and my warning bells sounded. Apparently things are going to be changed.
I deeply hope it will remain quiet, green and hidden.
Additional research by Stephen Emms