The Rookery: One of London's Secrets (Part 1)

Posted by @NEILMUIR1 on
A house called the Rookery was here on this site with a spa, but when the spa declined in popularity the Rookery's formal gardens and spa were bought and turned into a public garden. It was the local people, who bought the land for £3,000, that saved this astonishing place. A three-acre garden was built, including a water garden, formal gardens, a stunning white garden, herbaceous borders, an English garden, fantastic trees, ponds, and much more. Let me take you on a walk around this tiered and secret garden.

The Rookery was opened to the public in 1913 and is now run by Lambeth Council. It is a remarkable place.  The locals know it is there, but not many other people do! It is not far from Crystal Palace on Streatham Common in southeast London. The Common itself is unique in having acid grassland. The gardens are at their best in the spring and mid summer, but I find them beautiful at any time. I was first taken there when I was at college and it mesmerized me.  In fact it changed the way I thought about gardening. The picture below is the common.  Who would believe that you walk through a gate on this land and then see some of the sights I am about to show you, despite the rain knocking a few plants down? In this picture is a horse trough.  They are quite common all over London, and they were simply filled with water for the animals to drink


Then as you come in, this is what you see to the left and the right!

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I love cedars (especially blue ones), and these are a magnificent sight. What a view as far as the north downs and this is a steep tiered garden!

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Before we go any lower, I had to have a look at these.

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These are steps going down to a new world of adventures and a picture of some of the steps going up. You do not have to use these.  There are other ways around that do not use steps at all.

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Looking through the blue cedar or Cedrus atlantica glauca onto the rose pergolas. The wonderful cones of a Cedrus atlantica

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Before we go into the garden room that beckons, there is a Golden Yew on the left and a Strawberry Tree or Arbutus unedo on the right.

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Then the Rose Pergolas, left and right! These are in fact full of Honeysuckles in some places as well.

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This is a really stunning area with annuals, herbaceous plants, roses, and hedging. It is awkward to take a picture in here as your back ends up against a wall!

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Some more, but on the right is the old spa well.

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 Back up the steps and on the right is the entrance to another room.

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These are the sundial and the entrance to the white garden. There is another avenue to explore past the roses. This metal arch on the right takes you into a different garden room. They have crammed a lot into these three acres.

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The spa water was said to have healing properties. This is one of the three original spa wells. Looking down the well, it appears that the ferns like it!

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 A lovely Sea Holly or Eryngium maritimum, and a Purple Coneflower or Echinacea purpurea.

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This is the wonderful flower of a Cardoon, sometimes called the Artichoke Thistle or Cynara cardunculus, followed by a Michaelmus Daisy or Aster novi-belgii. Michaelmas means Michael's Mass. The flowers traditionally bloom on September 29th, which is 'The Feast of Saint Michael'. Saint Michael was the warrior saint of all angels.

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Some roses in the rose garden. Not the best time of year for roses!

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Agapanthus and a Pampas Grass. On the right is more Agapanthus with some Sea Holly to the right of it.

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 A fantastic quiet area to sit and relax. A water lily in flower in the pond!

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At the back of the pond is this relaxing and very English garden room. Absolutely beautiful, and quiet beyond belief! This is to the left and right of it with yew hedges and the walls.

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The centre of this great place and looking over to the right!

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As you come back out and walk around, you come across these borders and the entrance to the white garden.

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Box Hedging with annuals and Russian Vine, sometimes called mile a minute vine or Fallopia baldschuanica, in flower over the wall on the left.

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There is more bedding to the side of this border, but then we turn right and go down the steps to the white garden. It was September and some of it was in flower.

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The first thng you notice is a Magnolia grandiflora in flower! Then some white Wood Anemones.

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Looking down and up the white garden.

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Some of the white borders.

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White Buddleja and Salvias.

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Cornus and some white Daisies.

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A view of the white garden from the other side.

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The centre and to the right before we leave the white garden.

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There are some more rose pergolas, and as you walk through the first one this is what you see to the right! I like this as it is subtle, in contrast to the harshness of the bright yellow and orange in the previous bedding scheme.

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I will leave you with this until Part 2.


I do hope you have enjoyed your little tour of this fabulous place. However this is only a bit of it.   There is more to see, including the water garden and other bits I found. It is amazing to think this is a FREE Public Garden and Park. Hope to meet in you in Part 2.

I will use some more links in Part 2.

Part 2.

The Rookery.




For Nancy.

Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
What a change by rbtkew Sep 19, 2010 9:41 AM 1
Wonderful and beautiful by cececoogan Sep 6, 2010 12:59 PM 12
Beautiful! by Petalpants Sep 6, 2010 12:43 PM 1
Lovely! by sandnsea2 Sep 5, 2010 4:38 AM 1
Thank you Neil by Dutchlady1 Sep 4, 2010 4:27 AM 1
Another beautiful garden by kareoke Sep 3, 2010 6:42 AM 10
Bravo!!! by Ridesredmule Sep 2, 2010 1:48 PM 11
How absolutely delightful!!! by quilter5 Sep 2, 2010 1:07 PM 12

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