12 June 2010

Gardens by the river

My garden explorations have been a little more adventurous thanks to growing confidence in cycling in London and the seductive and suggestive powers of the National Gardens Scheme website.

And so it was that I found myself in the unknown quarters of Chiswick Mall on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

The journey there was a little challenging due to the scant regard most of London pays to the needs of cyclists which means that the routes are shared with unsympathetic people or even more unsympathetic cars, detour around developments and disappear altogether.

I blame the bumping around West London for the destroyed rear inner tube that meant a very uncomfortable ride. Luckily the gardens made up for this.

Four gardens were on display but one was about the size of the proverbial postage stamp so that left three to stroll through.

Chiswick Mall has grand period houses on the river so envy is an understandable response until you realise that the constant drone is the nearby A4 on a quiet day.

The common themes of the gardens were high walls, long borders and separating the large gardens in to smaller areas with their own character and purpose.

Also common were the high steps that remind you that the Thames rolling gently past the end of the garden can become a powerful and acquisitive beast that can climb small steps and sweep through unprotected houses.

But with the river peaceful, the A4 just a gentle annoyance and the sun bright and hot, the gardens were able to show themselves at their best and they rose to the occasion admirably.

I also loved the way that all the gardens had that lived-in feeling, presumably because they were all lived-in rather than just grown for show.

The gardens over, the next challenge was to plan a route home fit for a broken bike. This sort of worked but the shared path along the river was bike hostile so I took to the road instead, and the tow path by Kew was closed for more building works.

So bit of a curate's egg sort of day but the puncture was not Chiswick's fault and the gardens certainly were so I could just make it back there one day.

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