London’s Secret Garden

One of my favourite movies as a kid was The Secret Garden. The premise is essentially that three friends discover a secret garden  and all sorts of wonderful things happen. Since I’ve seen that movie numerous times, I have always loved the idea of a garden as sanctuary, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the world, where one could simply stroll in, admire and also have a picnic.

On a recent trip to London, walking through the financial district, I saw some trees tucked away on a quiet cobblestone road. It seemed a little out of place considering the area and how it juxtaposed with the futuristic, sci-fi buildings of various financial institutions (as example, see the insurance giant Lloyd’s building).

All photos of St. Dustan-in-the-East by Peter Trimming

To my surprise, I walked over and discovered St Dunstan-in-the-East.

It was remarkable even at this time of the year.

I also found great photos online of what St. Dunstan’s looks like in full-leafed summer glory. I’m sharing them here as they really do the place justice.St. Dustan’s was a Church of England parish church originally built in 1100. The gothic-style church was largely destroyed in the Blitz during the Second World War.After the war, it was decided that St. Dustan’s church would not be rebuilt. The ruins were left untouched for over three decades.It was only in 1971 that the City of London decided to turn the ruins of the church into a public garden.With wall shrubs and climbers, tall trees and a fountain in the middle, today it is the perfect garden retreat.This green oasis is busy on weekdays during lunchtime with office workers eating their lunches and taking it easy.St. Dunstan-in-the-East is a wonderful example of creative reuse and satisfies all of my childhood daydreams of a secret garden.

Do you know of any other secret gardens in London?

How to Grow Your Plant Collection

A stem of an elephant ear plant – perfect for your side table

My grandmother, a passionate gardener, always had vases filled with cuttings from various plants at her house. She would spot a beautiful plant at a friend’s house or on a walk through her neighbourhood and then would proceed to cut off a stem (with permission, of course!). Later, she would plop the stem in water.

This is an easy and cost-effective guide to help you grow your plant collection.

A stem in a glass of water for your home office

First and foremost, when you cut off a plant stem, make sure it is a sharp cut and a healthy stem. Then, remove the lower leaves off the stem and simply plop the stem into a vase or glass filled with water.

Let the roots of the stem grow

Change the water in the container periodically and watch the roots grow at the end of the stem. Some experts recommend sprinkling rooting hormone powder, like Miracle-Gro, into the water. However, this is personal preference and not mandatory.

Plant your stems in a planter

Eventually, once there are enough roots at the end of your stem, you can plant the stem in your garden or in a planter.

Growing plants from cuttings is a great winter project.  You can simply get one or two plants from the garden centre and make multiple stem cuttings from them. It’s a good trick if you want a large number of plants for a flower bed.

Try it out with a plant that roots easily and let me know what you think. This is truly a quick and cost-effective way to grow your plant collection.

Have you ever tried growing a plant from cuttings? How did it turn out?