Hampstead Tube station’s secret garden revealed

Hidden behind the control room of Hampstead Tube station lies one of leafy London’s best-kept secrets.

Through the hustle and bustle of the station floor and past the bank of CCTV monitors in the Tube station is a blossoming world far removed from the stale air and grey colours of the Underground.

Flowers, fruit trees, and enough vegetables to feed staff at lunch, are all growing quietly in a small space at the back of the Tube station.

Robert Linger, of The Heath & Hampstead Society, described his surprise at discovering one of Hampstead’s newer treasures - after helping put together an exhibition about Old Hampstead Rediscovered at Burgh House which opened on Friday (June 29).

He said: “My goodness a hidden garden in Hampstead Tube station, what a coincidence that we are just putting on an exhibition in Burgh House called Old Hampstead Rediscovered. It just goes to show how much of Hampstead still remains to be discovered.”

Station supervisor Neeta Patel, who has been working on the garden for nearly three years, said: “On the open Tube stations there is plenty of space and I always used to admire the gardening work at Brent Cross when I worked there.

“People said you can’t do anything like that at Hampstead – a tunnel station. So I thought to myself, ‘I’ll take you up on that challenge’.”

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That was two years ago and now every inch is taken up with greenery. A fig tree inches towards the barbed wire fence and strawberries grow opposite the station’s generator.

Staff from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are currently engrossed in a potato plant growing competition, with Ireland’s sapling refusing to budge.

“Taking care of the garden is a team effort, it’s whoever is on duty at the time and everyone gets involved”, said Mrs Patel.

The garden is normally closed to the public, but Mrs Patel plans to open it up for the first time on August 4 and 5.

“At the moment only staff can see it so we want to have an open day and get the community involved,” she said.

Visitors will be shown round by a guide from the station and flowers from the garden will go on sale to raise money for Cancer Research.