Surrounding the wall, stubby ash and elephantine coils of Cherry Laurel gave a writhing border to the site, which for a moment felt to me like an abandoned sacred grove. The idea of Celtic Thin places came to mind, though here it seemed, any doorway to the eternal world had been blocked and forgotten.
The thoughtless hands that had tossed bottles and plastic bags, now tangled in rolling brambles, made this more of a Thick Place – dirty and broken, frayed at the edges, with nothing but shadows able to leak through the veil and stumble off ragged into the undergrowth towards an indifferent city beyond.
The large frames created between the support struts, beneath the corrugated iron roof, seem like glassless windows, with ash and oak, horse chestnut, hazel, sycamore and brambles pressing themselves right up to the edges. Sometimes it feels as though passengers are being protected from the looming sylvan creatures beyond.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to hear a woodpecker in a wood. It depends on the circumstances I suppose. In the last week of January, I was in a small wood on the edge of a housing estate in Lewisham – Hillcrest Wood. The sound of a great spotted woodpecker drumming isn’t yet uncommon, even in London, but here, as you will see, it felt unexpected, though enormously welcome.
…there on the edge of the flat stretching roof
Stood a magpie, a gull and a pigeon
Neatly spaced –
The cast from some terrible joke.
Nationally, many, if not quite all, orchards have vanished; having been abandoned or grubbed up because there’s no longer any money in them.
Yet, in Lambeth one inspired and dedicated group of people have set out to plant a series of new orchards, filling South London with saplings of hope.
Over a wall is a river foreshore busy with gulls and expectant cormorants – right in the heart of London.
How a once-derelict patch of ground, is helping to galvanise a community in one corner of South London.