Situated close to the busy Golborne Market, a stone throw from the northern end of the Portobello Road, at the very heart of multicultural North Kensington, under the shadow of the Trellick Tower, there is an Oasis. The Elkstone Road Garden Oasis in fact, a small strip of land with a history of being neglected and abused.
Originally rescued by the work of MIND volunteers the Oasis is now being managed by the Chelsea Physic Garden, which enjoys a somewhat longer history being created in 1683. Building on the work completed by MIND the Physic Garden, with grants from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Band Trust, City Bridge Trust and Turning Point, seeks to provide the local community with a beautiful space, in which the people who live in this area, adults and children, can enjoy being involved in the world of plants and wildlife. Colville Primary school are already participating in developing the garden, with visits every Thursday by Year three pupils. This is a popular activity and always provides a healthy injection of enthusiasm into the Garden.
I was shown around the garden on a warm evening just before festivities got going as part of the Chelsea Fringe. As Chelsea Physic Garden Education and Outreach Officer, Jennie Rickell, showed me around she outlined the ambitious plans for the project. These plans involve engaging with the local community to develop an interest in plants and gardening. To encourage and educate members of the local community to participate in growing food and other plants, and educating local people on how we can use plants to heal ourselves. To encourage awareness of natural wildlife. Last, though certainly not least, to create an environment in which people can meet and develop friendships around this shared enthusiasm. It is also planned to establish some horticultural therapy groups. The longer-term goal being to hand the Garden back to the local community. With so many residents of nearby tower blocks living without access to the cycles of the natural world, the cycle of planting, tending, and harvesting plants, it seeks to provide an invaluable local oasis.