The Herb Garden, Greenwich Park


If you’re ScaredofChives, or of a similarly delicate constitution, look away now. We are about to enter Herb County…

Tucked away in the North-west corner of Greenwich Park lies a little garden. Behind low, dainty railings, and separated by parterres of box, a modern Tudor-knot contains herbs for every sense, billowing out their frond-y, frothy abundance in a heady green-and-yellow haze, a gentle breeze rustling the ferny leaves in a soft murmur.

Well. Ok. maybe not just at the moment. It’s more like a bunch of dark green boxes full of dead brown-and-black stalks and grizzled old earth, scoured by a howling gale. But in these dark January days a Phantom needs a few memories of long, hot summers and long, fragrance-filled evenings to light the way through to Spring.

Memories, for example, of that little fountain in the middle – I think it’s supposed to be a thistle – but it could be a tulip or even a pineapple. No matter. The tinkle from that tiny pond twinkles in my mind and I can feel the warmth of the sun on my back, even if it’s actually just my cardi, an extra blanket and a fan heater.

It’s not that old (the herb garden, of course, not the fan heater, which is antediluvian.) There’s precious little written about it anywhere – naturally – I’m beginning to get used to a total blank-er-oo whenever I try to find anything out about stuff in Greenwich. It’s as though just putting something lovely somewhere is enough – when surely part of charm of a thing, whether a statue, sculpture, street furniture – or a garden – is in its history?

The new Greenwich Park walks leaflet (which I will be reviewing as soon as I’ve had the chance to try out one or two of the suggested route-marches) comes to the rescue – a bit. The garden was first planted in 1969 but tarted up in 1993, with 30 herbs. That fountain, designed by (and yea! – we have a sculptor) Kate Malone, was added in 2000.

The Phantom is in reflective mood today, swaddled in blankets and thick socks, leaving you with a lovely photo to remind you that Spring’s not that far away now. Honest.

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