Why are we so secret garden about our beautiful spaces?

Lorena Vila

07 January 2016

When I signed up for a Forest Gardening course I had no idea what to expect.

Which is weird because the Forest Garden, where it was held, is right outside my door. How did I miss it? What’s the big secret?

bed at Edible Landscape London Forest Garden
Showcase bed at Edible Landscape © Jo Homan

There are little pockets of natural and edible joy all over London. Finsbury Park’s Edible Landscape London Forest Garden is just one. Perhaps I wasn’t opening my eyes enough. London is supposed to be the greenest city.

Yes, there is a lot of green around but so many parks are so boring. Oh look, another plane tree (the one with the bark that looks like camouflage). Yawn. Oh look another bed of generic flowers. Great.

Lorena at Edible Landscape
Me loving my Edible Landscapes experience © Jo Homan

When I went in to the tiny Edible Landscapes London plot, in Finsbury Park, to do this Forest Gardening course I couldn’t get over the wild, exciting and lush look of it. There’s a Saltbush whose leaves you can just pick off and they taste just like halloumi - seriously! Salty, salady joy. And that’s just the beginning.

Why haven’t they planted one next to that pond everyone goes to? Or next to the park so children would chomp away and be like... 'yuck!' or 'yum!'

Forest Gardening is fun, but it isn’t only that. It’s a bio-diverse, resilient habitat which feeds us, protects wildlife and looks after our soil. It will also be much more suited to stand up to the challenges of climate change than large-scale agriculture. And we can grow this stuff at home too.

This place is the size of a postage stamp compared to the romping (dull) Finsbury Park. Why? It’s like the good stuff we need for our bellies and our future has been banished to the corners. Honestly, this place feels like the VIP zone of parks. Except it’s free and does loads of stuff with the community and hosts free meals…I could go on.

The good news is that Edible Landscapes London, that runs the place, has just turned into an independent charity. That’s something to shout about. Hoorah! Anyone can volunteer there.

Let’s stop this garden secrecy. Check out your local secret garden wherever you live in the UK. You could:

  • save money by growing your own food
  • help nature to flourish 
  • and meet someone who teaches you how to eat nettles. Don’t try this alone.

Let’s all get involved so we can end this boring park malarkey. 

Main image: Jo Homan, who works at Edible Landscapes London

Eating an Ice Plant (Sedum Spectabile) leaf
A happy forest gardener tries an Ice Plant (Sedum Spectabile) leaf © Jo Homan

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Jo from Edible Landscapes London