Get set for north London's September garden shows

Pauline Hamilton’s garden at 9 Churston Gardens

Pauline Hamilton’s garden at 9 Churston Gardens - Credit: Pauline Hamilton

With midsummer evenings well behind us, it is time to celebrate this year’s horticultural harvest and look forward to next spring.

Pre-pandemic, our local horticultural societies would all have been putting on flower and produce shows.

Compared with last year, the decision to proceed or cancel is now less clear cut.  

Muswell Hill Horticultural Society and the Golf Course Allotments are minded to go ahead; Plant Heritage’s Autumn Plant Sale is on; some garden openings for the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) are also on (details below or www.ngs.org.uk)).  

But Hampstead Garden Suburb Horticultural Society has decided to postpone its show until next year, and Highgate Horticultural Society is soon to decide.


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Having visited fewer NGS gardens than I would have liked, it was a pleasure to see that Pauline Hamilton’s stylish garden at 9 Churston Gardens, N11 will be open the same afternoon as the nearby Golf Course Allotments. Pauline is encouraging her visitors to combine both, so they can get their tea and cakes at the allotments. I recommend this idea as a way of enjoying very different sorts of gardening environment, the extensive golf course site with all its diversity, surprise and delight, contrasting with Pauline’s elegance of design and planting. 

When Pauline moved to Churston Gardens five years ago she had already completed a garden design course at Capel Manor’s campus in Regent’s Park. She was determined to improve the 1930s house and its “nothing much” existing garden as one project. Now, to be in the new sitting room is like being outside among the plants, only without the wind. This makes that popular maxim about "planting for year-round interest" all the more relevant.

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The land rises gently towards the trees at the back. Pauline has terraced it into three levels with shallow steps. The idea is of gradual change from greater formality to a softer feeling further up, but with the repeated appearance of some plants acting as a link. Chief among these is trachelospermum jasminoides, a favourite of Pauline’s and, at this time of year at least, some very lovely dahlias, eg happy single kiss and waltzing Matilda. There are also well-chosen roses, penstemons, salvias, etc. The top terrace really does feel different, with admirable use of black-painted fencing to show off the brightness of the plants. Altogether this is a thoughtful garden, well worth a visit.

Pauline Hamilton’s garden at 9 Churston Gardens

Pauline Hamilton’s garden at 9 Churston Gardens - Credit: Pauline Hamilton

Events (check websites in case of cancellations):

September 4

Plant Heritage Plant Fair, 10am – 3.30pm, St Michael’s School, North Hill, Highgate N6 4BG. Always good stock from specialist nurseries, with spring bulbs from Rose Cottage Plants (you can order ahead and pick them up).

Highgate Horticultural Society Flower Show, 2.00 – 5.00, United Reformed Church, South Grove, N6 6BA

September 5

Open through the NGS, Golf Course Allotments, 1pm – 4.30pm, Winton Ave, N11 2AR. Refreshments and produce available, flower and produce show.   

9 Churston Gardens, N11 2NJ, open 2pm – 6pm, as featured above.

September 11

Muswell Hill Horticultural Society Autumn Flower Show, 3pm – 5pm, North Bank, Pages Lane, N10. 

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