Elizabeth, one of our lovely volunteers, is often found with trowel in hand tending the David Parr House garden. Through sun and rain she has nurtured the plants, pruned the bushes and every now and then shouted at the squirrels! Here are her musings about time spent working at the back of 186.


This season in the David Parr House garden has been one of extreme weather. First, a heat wave, and appropriately the garden was full of hot colours: purple snapdragons, tall red gladioli with frilly white edges and varieties of scarlet crocosmia.

The main bed was dominated by the dahlias, bright orange pompoms on long stalks that seemed to float in the air above large bushes of dark green leaves. But the heat was too fierce for some of the plants: hollyhocks rusted, golden rod mildewed and roses sulked. So there had to be a change in my timetable as I returned in the evenings to water the garden.

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Summer came early to the garden at the David Parr House, with a long spell of warm weather in May. Sadly, there were still no visitors but the plants put on a splendid performance all the same.

Having come through the security-coded street gate, settled my bike, pushed back the old iron gate to the garden itself, I always feel a surge of pleasure as I begin the walk down the path through the garden. It is a time to pause and take in the mood and murmur a quiet greeting.

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Best Dad


It is spring in the garden at the David Parr House and the plants are unwrapping their blooms and scents in the lovely weather.  They don’t know that there are no visitors to see this rapture and I have not told them.

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The David Parr house is closed and without visitors from December to February so this is the time for the volunteer gardener to put the garden to bed for the winter and prepare for the next season.

I began by stripping out the spent annuals, dead plants and weeds; then I cut down and marked with sticks the location of plants that had completely died back. Even after this autumn clearance, the garden was not bare because the cyclamen leaves with their white heart-shaped marbling, the bright ferns, the honeysuckle on the fence, all flourished in green, and the broad mats of fleabane were still starred with daisy-like flowers all along the path.

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I am a volunteer at the David Parr House where I put myself forward to help maintain the back garden through the first year of the project.

It was easy at first – I inherited a beautiful planting plan and roses, lilies, geraniums, lavender and many more plants carefully labeled, interred and spaced.  It was clear what to keep and what to eject so I set to, weeding out the ground elder and alkanet, both of which aspire to world domination but …

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