Gardens On Barges For the Nautically Minded

Make sure that you have your sea legs for this visit. As part of the London Open Squares Weekend, these private and secluded "gardens" are open to the public once a year. Garden Barge Square is a community of barge dwellers, moored right by historic Tower Bridge. They have created a floating garden square on the decks of many of the barges with walkways lined with flowers joining them up. It's a kind of hippy community because barge living is not the most salubrious. It is cold and damp and grey in winter, the cabins are cramped and you bump your head a lot.

It is in the summer that it all comes alive and alive is the operative word. With a million dollar view of the spectacular buildings along the Thames, including the Tower of London, this is a world onto itself. The gardens are planted in a series of steel trenches. The watering and drainage is from the river. In hot weather the plants need a daily dose of water. There is an assortment of blossoms, berries and evergreens and herbs grown. Some spots are left wild so that insects and butterflies can nest there.

Each barge garden has its own individual character. One has only self-seeding annuals such as poppies and other wild flowers. Another only has grasses and daisies. Another has five foot high artichokes. One boat has a quince "orchard" and geese had a nest there for their goslings.

The bike barge is a parking lot for bicycles and given the central location of the moorings, bicycles are the perfect way to get around.

The barges themselves are all different too. Dora was a Dutch klipper built in 1913 with a long and varied history, first as a cargo boat, then a party boat and then converted to home use. Another started as a french boat in the '50's and its owners want to convert it into a music studio ultimately. :: Open Garden Squares Weekend

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