I have my own back garden, these ones aren’t shared, we all have our own gardens. Because the flats are so wide, they do have a proper sized garden, mine is about 100 foot long and they are a proper garden width, which is fantastic. I grow vegetables there, I sit out and have my dinner there, and in the summer I spend a lot of time out there, it’s lovely. I do however have a gigantic tree in my garden, one of those huge eucalyptus trees, it just never seems to stop growing, so I never seem to have a great deal of sun, but it’s beautiful, I’ve got a big pond in there and it’s my little haven, an oasis of peace out there.
Jennie, Thorpe Crescent
I’ve got this half of the garden and my neighbour’s got the other half. We had that paving done. We had an old couple upstairs, they both rented as well, they both died a few years ago, Mr and Mrs Nunn. She was actually born here, the old lady who lived upstairs. And I looked after her. She looked after me when I was at work, she used to do everything for me, see to my dogs and look after things for me. And then I retired and she was getting old, I looked after her- that’s what you do. And they were a nice old couple, they really were, and that was their garden. And we always had the path up the middle. I’ve got young children next door, their dad puts them over the fence and they come in, so I have children in here. He goes down the bottom, and “Maureen, Aunty Maureen!” and they come over the fence and come in.
Maureen, Fleeming Road
When we moved in it was just a jungle and it was just, you couldn’t really go out there. You had conifer bushes either side and like a really narrow strip of just, like, crap basically, and then at the back of the garden was just like piles and piles of rubble and wood, and, I don’t know, just crap that had built up over the years. And since we’ve been here we’ve gradually cleared it all out and we’ve got to the point now where we’ve got like a fence all around the garden and we’ve got decking, and our next stage this summer is to do the lawn and get a shed so we’ve got storage and stuff like that.
Rosie, Carr Road
We’ve got this side of the garden so we can see it from our living room which is nice. And we’ve purposely left a small see through fence so we can still have some sort of communication with our next door neighbour. We talk through the fence a lot and we pass the baby through the fence, and I really like that, I like that sense of community, luckily we do have nice neighbours. Our fence fell, so there’s a bit without fence, since last winter, and we couldn’t bring ourselves to fence it back up because we wouldn’t see the neighbours, so we’re going to leave it for a little bit longer.
Marta, Seymour Road
I cleared the back garden, because it was so overgrown. I could only do it on my hands and knees, I had knee pads on and everything and I was out there for days and days and days. And one of the other neighbours asked if I did gardening and could I go and do hers, if I could have spat in her eye I would have done, but she was upstairs somewhere or other, on a balcony. I’ve had a fence replaced out there. The hedge is now about four foot, it was about seven foot when I took the place on. The fence was falling down out the back, and I asked for remedial work and every time someone came along they said it needed this that and the other as well, and it got progressively worse, and eventually frightened Ascham Homes into doing exactly what I’d asked them for in the first place. It’s still not my fence anyway. I’m not buying a new bloody fence! If it goes down, it goes down. And someone said to me, ‘I wouldn’t buy a new one’ and I said well if I do end up having to buy a new one, whenever I do leave here, however I leave here, there’ll be a nice big celebratory bonfire outside in the road, because I’m not leaving a brand new fence!
Paul, Leucha Road
I think there was an older lady, she was I think born here, and died here. And she must have loved gardening, because every spring, before we did anything to the garden, there would be just loads and loads of perennial plants and bulbs, you know, so it would be you know, hyacinths, daffodils, it was beautiful. There was crazy paving immediately as you walked out of the kitchen door, I think there were a couple of steps down, and it would just be this really wild garden, and right at the bottom, where the shed is now, was an apple tree.
Edna, Elphinstone Road
W: We had the old stone stairs to go down into the garden and then they changed it and put metal ones
M: that’s only because the woman down the road fell through them. Two or three doors down they’ve still got the stone one.
W: She was lucky. She was left dangling, sort of thing, you know? Bless her. She was sweet, wasn’t she?
Wendy and Michael, Warner Road
We made a vegetable patch, we have a lot of slugs in this area, big slugs and snails, and it’s very difficult for any vegetables to survive without lots of fight so we decided at the end after many different attempts at different vegetables over the years, we decided to have leeks and garlic and spring onions because they are not attacked by slugs and snails. And then we planted many bushes and herbs.
S: And whenever it snows we invite our little neighbour to make a snowman
N: This year we couldn’t do it unfortunately but ever since she was one she couldn’t speak but she kept pointing to the snowman from next door window. And from the age of 2 she would come and make one.
Natasa & Slavoj, Bemsted Road
Technically the upstairs flat has the left side of the garden, and the downstairs flat has the right side, there’s no demarcation on there, it’s just how it’s shown on the deeds, and we just share that. There’s a lawn in the middle, and there’s two borders either side, and a border at the end. Isla next door who organises the street parties, she’s also into gardening, I like gardens but I’m not into gardening, so she’s been instrumental in planting it for us, with low maintenance plants, and keeping on top of the ivy that grows everywhere. And Rachel’s been fantastic in eradicating Japanese knotweed, that started here initially, haven’t seen it in years touch wood, so I think she’s done it. But it’s really nice having an outside space that you can just sit on, and hang the washing out and stuff, and it’s a fairly nice sized garden for this size of flat, and you can have a table and chairs out there. Sometimes you might think it would feel awkward sitting in the garden when there’s other people that can have access to it, but I think in reality people just accept that, how lucky are we to have outside space, and it’s fine to share it. Somehow I think you just accept that if there’s somebody else out in the garden that it’s nice letting them enjoy the garden, and there are plenty of opportunities for getting out there and being out there, and Lloyd Park is just up there so that’s another outside space as well, so it’s fine, it’s never an issue.
Iqbal, Winns Avenue
We did the garden, when we moved in the garden was like a forest, the council didn’t help us to do it. When I moved in the garden was absolutely like a tip. I didn’t use the garden much, my child was a baby and we hardly opened the back door. Gradually when they grow we thought they need a place to play and stuff, and the neighbour’s daughter too, and at the end of the day when Vijay came along, and the neighbours said they’d put some weedkillers, and gradually little by little cleared the weeds, cleared the rubbish, we took so many trips to the tip. And we dug the whole garden ourselves, and cleared it, and we’re making use of it. We grow vegetables and loads of stuff and have loads of parties. We grow tomatoes, runner beans, we did chillies didn’t we? And loads of tomatoes and green peas, a lot of green peas. Birthday parties, barbecues, all the time. We always do barbecues. Maybe people will be tempted, and then copy us, when we do barbecues, they are very jealous. We’re very proud because at the back side there are other flats, and they give feedback. Because from the back side they can see other flats and then ours, and they compare. And because we maintain stuff, and they say your flat is the only flat where the garden looks lovely, and that’s nice for us.
Gnanamani, Leucha Road