Favourite Front Gardens (11)

Trinity Buoy Wharf,E14


We haven’t had a favourite front garden for ages. Maybe this is because the weather’s been so bloomin’ duff that I haven’t been out looking for them – or maybe nobody wants to do much in the way of primping and preening their greenery in the rain.

But I said I’d bang on about Trinity Buoy Wharf a bit more, and today, I want to show you what a bunch of creative people do with no fixed gardens.

Trinity Buoy Wharf (not actually in, but I like to think “honorary” Greenwich) was basically an experimental station built along the Thames to test out lighthouse technology before it was used in really dangerous areas. There are some fab stories about it – one of my favourites is where they’d fire up a new type of bulb and some poor sod would have to leg-it round to Shooters Hill to see if they could see the light – and famous people – Michael Faraday, no less, who worked there, but that’s for another day. A dark winter’s day, perhaps, when stories of bravery and derring-do on the high seas are all the more dramatic.

Trinity Buoy Wharf has a fascinating life these days too. It’s inhabited by creative types – with wonderful installations and art projects (see Aluna for one of my favourites) – and a great diner – all of which I’ll also get onto in good time. They warrant looking at in more detail than one post.


The place is a wonderful mix of the old – Victorian warehouses, light-ships and the lighthouse itself – and the new – a pile of containers, painted bright colours and inhabited by arty types. And there’s nothing arty types like better than creating exciting plant projects.

All over the place pieces of art mingle with found objects, juxtaposed in curious ways, both inside and outside the workshops of potters, mosaic artists and sculptors. Strange inventions and old objets d’art and honest tools mingle together – and grow from and alongside plants. Gay annuals and bright bedding jostle with runner beans and courgette plants, tomatoes and herbs.

This place is great. On the first weekend of every month most of the installations are open, and it’s best to go along then. It’s currently a bit of a trek to get to – you have to either drive or go to Canning Town on the Jubilee and take a 15 minute walk. But occasionally, just occasionally, they have a “festival” day and there’s a free boat service from the O2 – and if you see one of those advertised, GO. It’s a great afternoon out. The website is a bit out of date – it’s still advertising the last festival – but I checked London Open House Weekend and it’s going to be open then.

Laura Williams, the artist responsible for Aluna, tells me that since the Thames Clippers are now based around there, they can pretty much hop on a Clipper any time they want to go across to Greenwich. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a boat service every weekend the art is open?


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