Backyard reveals in North London in September


With the midsummer evenings far behind us, it’s time to celebrate this year’s horticultural harvest and look forward to next spring.

Before the pandemic, our local horticultural associations would have hosted all of the flower and product shows.

Compared to the previous year, the decision about continuation or cancellation is now less clear.

The Muswell Hill Horticultural Society and Golf Course Allotments plan to continue; Plant Heritage’s fall plant sales are ongoing; some garden openings for the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) are also available (details below or

But the Hampstead Garden Suburb Horticultural Society has decided to postpone their show until next year, and the Highgate Horticultural Society will decide soon.

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Having visited fewer NGS gardens than I thought it was a pleasure to see Pauline Hamilton’s stylish garden at 9 Churston Gardens, N11 open the same afternoon as the nearby Golf Course Allotments. Pauline encourages her visitors to combine both so that they can have tea and cake in the allotment garden. I recommend this idea to enjoy a very different garden landscape, the extensive golf course area with all its diversity, surprise and joy, in contrast to Pauline’s elegance of the design and planting.

By the time Pauline moved to Churston Gardens five years ago, she had already completed a garden design course on the Capel Manor campus in Regent’s Park. She was determined to upgrade the 1930s house and its “not much” existing garden as one project. To be in the new living room now is like being outside among the plants, only with no wind. The popular maxim “plant all year round” is all the more relevant.

The land rises gently towards the trees in the background. Pauline has terraced it on three levels with flat steps. The idea is to gradually move from a larger formality to a softer feel further up, but with the repetitive appearance of some plants to act as a link. Among them is Trachelospermum jasminoides, a favorite of Pauline, and, at least at this time of year, some very beautiful dahlias, e.g. Happy Single Kiss and Waltz Matilda. There are also select roses, penstemons, salvias, etc. The upper terrace feels really different, with admirable use of fences painted black to show off the brightness of the plants. Overall, this is a thoughtful garden well worth a visit.

Pauline Hamilton’s Garden at 9 Churston Gardens
– Photo credit: Pauline Hamilton

Events (check website for cancellations):

September 4th

Plant Heritage Plant Fair, 10 am-3.30pm, St. Michael’s School, North Hill, Highgate N6 4BG. Always in good stock from specialist nurseries, with spring onions from Rose Cottage Plants (you can order and pick them up in advance).

Highgate Horticultural Society Flower Show, 2:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., United Reformed Church, South Grove, N6 6BA

5th September

Opened by NGS, Golf Course Allotments, 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., Winton Ave, N11 2AR. Refreshments and products available, flower and fruit show.

9 Churston Gardens, N11 2NJ, open 2pm to 6pm as described above.

September 11

Muswell Hill Horticultural Society Fall Flower Show, 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., North Bank, Pages Lane, N10.