This is a lovely local nature reserve just to the south of Peckham Rye town centre that owes its origins to the devastation of WWII, and a TV show.
The area was laid out pretty much as conventional rows of terraced houses with gardens behind them, but the houses in this part of Peckham were badly damaged by a direct hit from a bomb during WWII.
After the war, the area was cleared and used for prefab housing, and slowly bits of it were redeveloped. In fact, the very last of the prefabs was removed only recently, when it was sold by Southwark Council for an eye watering £1 million, simply so the new owners could demolish it and build a block of flats on the site.
While it lost a surviving (if financially irreparable) prefab home, the developer contributed funds to the pocket park and labour to help clear some of the overgrown patches.
The garden itself was created in 2000 as part of the Bellenden Renewal Scheme, with the help of Charlie Dimmock and the TV show Charlie’s Garden Army, broadcast in July 2000.
Prior to that it had been a bit of an empty wasteland and dumping ground.
The park is part nature reserve and part artistically managed park, and owned by the councl but now looked after by a local group through the McDermott Gardens Trust.
The park has two gated entrances, with notes that the are opened by volunteers in the morning and closed at night, so the garden’s opening hours can be a bit variable. You’re likely to be fine if arriving mid-morning onwards though.
A rather nice brick-paved path curves through the southern end of the park, snaking between areas of dense planting which is the main nature reserve area, which then opens up to a lawn that’s been decorated with local artworks.
Two rams are fighting at one end, although the rabbit at the other end has lost its ears so probably can’t hear them fighting. An ornate metal arch that stands at the northern end of the garden was created by the artist, Gail Astbury.
Up on one of the trees, a bit hard to read is a metal plaque that commemorates the creation of the garden with a list of the people involved in the project. There are some nice touches here such as the carving in the benches and community library in a box by the northern entrance.
It’s quite a richly planted and verdant space with some decent-sized trees for such a young garden. And all thanks to WWII clearances, and a TV show.