Logo

Community gardening in Crouch End offers tips and food behind a bus stop

PUBLISHED: 17:30 08 May 2015 | UPDATED: 17:37 08 May 2015

Priory Common Orchard

Priory Common Orchard

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Behind a bus stop, at the corner of Priory Road and Redston Road, was an open patch of grass. The council owned it and mowed it … there wasn’t much more to be said, until Joyce Rosser thought it would be a good place to plant fruit trees.

Priory Common OrchardPriory Common Orchard

Haringey Council agreed, so a few like-minded people, including Gemma Harris, got together and started planting.

Since then they’ve become more ambitious, cutting beds out of the grass and making a food-growing community garden, with herbs, salads, vegetables and fruit. The council, to its credit, continues to mow the grass between the beds.

Accessible to anyone passing, this garden is the antithesis of a gated community. First predictions were that this openness was bound to fail, the plants vandalized or stolen. But gradually the comments started to change from “it’ll never work” to “this is great”. Certainly, when I had a quiet look around on a Friday evening, all was calm and bright.

One point of interest is the labelling. Most similar projects go in for a lot of earnest educational labelling but here there’s a lighter touch e.g. “Nettles, Fabulous for Food, Fibre, Fertiliser, Fodder, Flagellation” or “Dried blackberry leaves make a surprisingly nice herbal tea”.

Priory Common OrchardPriory Common Orchard

Pigeons are expected to read, and to behave with decorum once they have understood that it’s undesirable for them to eat brassicas. If decorum should fail, the message is reinforced with a stockade of twigs. I saw no similar communication to slugs or snails, but no evidence of slug damage either.

Another point of interest is grafting. In fruit trees, grafting gets what is called a scion of a chosen variety, apple, pear, plum etc. to grow on to a known rootstock, the eventual size and vigour of the tree being influenced by the choice of rootstock. So, if you want a dwarf tree, you choose one grafted on a dwarfing rootstock.

There is a lot to learn about grafting, and a fair amount of mystique. It is usually done to increase predictability, but at Priory Community Orchard this venerable craft reveals itself as something to play with.

There is a crab apple with scions of Prince Edward, Twyford Late Red and Brownlees Russet grafted on to it, a blackthorn with greengage, a rowan with pear. I asked Gemma if these combinations were completely experimental but she said no, they look things up first to check.

Allowing the rootstock to grow some of its own branches as well as that of the scion is unorthodox, but Gemma delightedly pointed out how the blackthorn was going to give them some sloes lower down, then greengages on top. In theory I believe the blackthorn will be inclined to put most of its energy into the sloes and forget about the greengages, so this will be worth a return visit, to see how things are developing….

Because of its openness you can visit this Crouch End garden any time, but the day to go if you want to meet the group, and be fed, is Tuesday. There’s an upended cable reel table, stools made of a sawn tree trunk and you sit round and share whatever salad or fruit they have picked.

A small nursery school occupies the only building on the site, and there are a couple of other nurseries nearby, so young children may be part of the idyllic scene.

Property search


e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Other Hampstead and Highgate property news

Property of the week: a stucco fronted home in the heart of Little Venice

This three bedroom apartment decorated in chic neutrals features a fully fitted kitchen and a private patio garden for al fresco dining

Generation Boomerang: meet the graduates supported by the bank, the fridge and the home of mum and dad

More and more young people are choosing to live at home in north London in the face of soaring property prices and an unaffordable housing crisis that has removed the lower rungs of the property ladder, leaving them without a foothold

Fabulous flowers: top tips for growing compact clematis

Clematis are one of the most popular varieties of garden flower, so how can you get the best from your blooms?

Windy weather? Here’s five tips for wind turbines

Windy weather? Generating electricity for your home will be a breeze with these top tips for wind turbines

New launch: period living in Paddington with Parker House

Prices start at £570,000 for a one bedroom apartment in this boutique development in zone one

Pore over this: pour yourself a drink in the power couple property with a secret pièce de résistance

This NW8 property has a garden, roof terrace and a secret bar decked out for throwing one of Gatsby’s greatest bashes

Let there be light: a modern home illuminating the future of environmentally friendly living

This East Finchley property is not just innovative, it’s invisible. We take a nosey around the modern eco home.

Comment: communities need buy to live

Buy to leave apartments in new build developments convert corrupt cash into clean assets, decimating local communities in the process. So it’s heartening to see Highgate Court lead the way with homes for local people

Hampstead hotspot: young professionals flock to NW3

Hampstead is the ninth most popular choice for young urban professionals, and the most expensive choice on the list.

Hampstead area guide: shops, theatre, schools and the Heath

Your guide to things to do in Hampstead, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools. PLUS our guide to property in NW3

Top 3 properties for sale in Hampstead

A modern apartment, three bedroom flat and four bedroom family home make the cut for our top three properties on the market in Hampstead this week

Will the snap general election affect the north London property market?

Theresa May has announced that the country will return to the polls on June 8 for the third summer running, but what will this mean for property sales in north London?

5 of the best spring cleaning buys

Dust away those cobwebs and ready your home for warmer days with these stylish spring cleaning products

Hot properties: on the market in Crouch End, Hampstead and Primrose Hill

Fancy a five bedroom family home, a contemporary apartment or a period flat? Take your pick of our top properties up for grabs this week

Property of the week: top to toe amenities in this modern three storey home

This West Hampstead home comes with its own private balcony up top and a wine cellar below, and a lot to offer in between

Searching for the gardens of Southwood Hall

Ruth Pavey goes in serach of the lost gardens of Southwood Hall, with a little help from some Highgate residents

Buzzing about bees: everything you need to know about the RHS’s new bee campaign

The RHS is collaborating with The Wildlife Trusts to bring wildlife enthusiasts new inspiration to protect our black and yellow friends

Spring Living: interiors for warmer weather

Lorraine Kelly knows all about spring style for your home. Here’s her top advice for spring interiors.

Take me to church: the chapel with a starring role in period drama ‘Call The Midwife’ is up for sale

Nonnatus House from BBC’s Call The Midwife can be all yours for £6 million

Shop of the month: handmade on the hill with Tash & Tanya

At a time when independent retailers are under threat, Tash & Tanya is a good news story of a local business going from strength to strength without compromising on handpicked style

No smoke without fire: are wood burning stoves environmentally friendly?

Debate around wood burning stoves is a hot topic. Supporters praise their carbon neutrality, whilst health-conscious activists blame them for rising smog. So who’s right? find out at The Highgate Society’s latest ‘eco homes’ event.

Hold that thought: inside the ‘national scandal’ of leasehold properties

Over 75 per cent of apartments in Hampstead are leasehold, whilst investors are cashing in by buying up freeholds in new builds throughout the capital. Here’s what you need to know about owning a leasehold property in north London

Tufnell Park area guide: schools, restaurants, station and the The Dome

Your guide to things to do in Tufnell Park, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools. PLUS our guide to property in NW5, N7 and N19

Top 3 properties in Tufnell Park

Looking for a home in leafy Tufnell Park? Our top three features a Victorian family home, maisonette and a period flat

Comment: London and its landlords will not fall

In the face of the onslaught of regulations letting agents and landlords will have to learn to turn the other cheek, whilst London smiles in the face of Brexit

Easter feast: eleven essentials for putting on a stylish spring spread

The Easter bank holiday is one of the few times a year when family and friends gather to eat, drink and make merry for a long weekend. For top table this spring, here are eleven essentials you can’t go without

Tenant fees ban: have your say with the government’s new consultation paper

The government has released a consultation paper on the letting fees ban, after introducing ‘chaotic’ new measures for tackling rogue landlords

Hot Properties: Camden, Highgate and Crouch End’s top picks

This week we have hot property picks in Camden, Highgate and Crouch End

Strictly NW1: Craig Revel Horwood’s Camden Town home is up for sale

Craig Revel Horwood’s Camden home is up for sale. India Block talks to him at the home that Cameron Mackintosh lent him money to buy back in 1997 where he partied with showbiz friends such as Kelly Brook and played host to Strictly’s dancing pros

Tomorrowland tech: your guide to connecting your home to the Internet of Things

Smart homes are the eagerly anticipated sequel to smart phones, so what’s good, what’s bad and what’s ugly about the Internet of Things?

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

2016 © Archant Community Media Ltd

Terms and conditions | Cookie policy | Jobs at Archant