It is the season for reflection, and for us at the Greenhouses, a lot has happened over the last 12 months. Perhaps the most noticeable change in the gardens is the incredible new space that is Brockwell Barn. Unmissable as you walk into the garden, the beautiful building is the result of many, many generous donations that the local community has invested into the Greenhouses, and already has become a home to so many community and educational activities. From laying the concrete foundations last December and piecing together the pink-tinted Welsh spruce in January, the builders worked hard whatever the weather – even through Storm Eunice – to ensure that we could bring the Barn to life. The final work was completed in the summer, with a celebratory opening event in September, complete with live music, tasty food, a whole host of garden activities. The ceremonial ribbon was replaced with a string of hops from the garden and cut by our local MP Helen Hayes. 

The barn wasn’t the only the new addition to the gardens this year, with two new staff members joining our BPCG family. Steph (Barn and Development Manager) and Charlene (Children and Family Programme Manager) who have both been working tirelessly alongside Cat (Community Gardener) to ensure the garden can continue to flourish.

Over the last year our Children and Families Programme has gone from strength to strength, relaunching the education programme for primary schools, and trying out brand new ideas to bring horticulture to everyone. We started the year with weekly Home School workshops and activities with local secondary SEND schools taking place on site in the gardens, as well as weekly Story Stomper sessions for pre-schoolers. During the summer term, we managed to run our most successful and by far the biggest schools programme to date, with nearly 140 sessions in total!

Over the summer we also ran a special 5-week programme of family workshops covering a wide range of activities, and we were listed in the Guardian as one of the 10 best UK family activities led by local experts! With grant funding, we were even able to offer free places for those that needed it to continue our goals of making horticulture accessible and enjoyable for all. In the autumn, as fruit and vegetables became ready to harvest, we trialled cooking sessions with children of all ages, from reception classes to teenagers from local colleges. 

This year also marked the return of Lambeth Country Show, after two years of being a virtual event, where we met crowds of new faces and we won first prize awards for Lesley’s beautiful flower arrangements cut from the Oudolf border and wildflower meadow!

Throughout the year the garden was filled with music. We danced the night away with Mambista, and enjoyed sunny afternoon acoustic sessions with folk duo Fellow Pynins and local talent Iyatra Quartet. We even had our first ever winter gig (and ceilidh!) in our new barn space with The Herd Choir, and amazing folk band The Conquering Heroes. 

We ran a whole host of new workshops this year including natural dyeing, singing, mending and mindfulness, as well as continuing with our brilliant lino and fermentation workshops. Not to mention the always popular pizza making workshops using our unique cob oven, which was run by some of our wonderful trustees.

The garden survived through the drought in Autumn, and through the hard work everyone put into maintaining it (especially our Community Gardener Cat) we received many incredible accolades this year. We were once again honoured with an “Outstanding” mark in the RHS “It’s Your Neighbourhood” and London in Bloom awards with a special mention of our beautiful Hot Border. 

Suffice to say, we couldn’t do any of this without our wonderful and generous volunteers. From composting, jam making, building, shop keeping, weeding, cooking (this list would go on forever…), we can’t thank you enough for all your hard work and dedication. 

In the coming year we will be running even more new workshops, brilliant music events, new education sessions, as well as exciting initiatives that will make the most of our beautiful garden and impressive new indoor space Brockwell Barn. Keeping our community growing, learning and having a good time!