Dalston Curve Garden – Go See
What can we say about Dalston? It’s loud. It’s busy. Yeah yeah, we know.
But in an urban space, there’s one thing we Londoners pine for – a little sanctuary, an escape from city life. Cue The Dalston Curve Garden. One of our most favourite places in London, we caught up with the team to find out more about this slice of urban paradise.
HUDSON: How long has the Dalston Curve Garden been around?
Marie: The Curve Garden opened to the public in 2010. The Garden emerged out of a project called “Making Space in Dalston’ that brought local cultural, community and campaigning groups together with the London Development Agency, Hackney Council, J&L Gibbons Landscape architects and Muf Architects. It was created on an old railway line and our number one purpose then and now was to offer much needed green ‘breathing space’ in a built up area where few people have their own garden.
HUDSON: How would you describe the garden to those that haven’t been?
Marie: When you step through the little door it really does feel like you are a world away from the hustle and bustle of busy Dalston Lane! Its full of trees, flowers, vegetables and herbs, lots of comfy sofas, beanbags, blankets and hot-water bottles, fairy-lights and lanterns, a lovely wooden pavilion and our ‘Pineapple House’ greenhouse for shelter, The whole space is packed full of art & design – carved breeze block ‘gargoyles’, recycled juice carton bird-feeders, giant paper ‘vegetable’ lanterns – most of it made by Hackney residents of all ages. Most people leave the Garden feeling more relaxed! There is a year-round programme of events and activities so that even in the depth of winter, there’s something to see or join in to cheer you up.
HUDSON: It seems like a real hub of activity! Do you have a diverse range of people visiting the garden?
Marie: Absolutely. This week, for instance, we’ve had young people studying for their exams, parents with babies and toddlers, children playing after school, our local primary school sowing seeds. We get people who work nearby coming for picnic lunches, our weekly music group for adults with learning disabilities, friends meeting for drinks, people reading, relaxing in among the flowers – the list could go on!
HUDSON: What’s the strangest or funniest thing you’ve come across during the time you’ve been open?
Marie: What a great question! Every day brings strange and funny things to the garden – that’s one of the many reasons I love it here so much. Some of my own favourites have been Charlie the parrot, our resident rabbits (sadly no longer with us) who used to run wild here, an amazing display of giant birds of prey – the list is endless…
HUDSON: Do you have any special events coming up?
Marie: On the weekend of 20th and 21st May we launch our Chelsea Fringe event ‘Shout out for Green Spaces’. Over two afternoons of workshops people can make a ‘placard’ to add to our giant artwork which will grow over the weekend. On Saturday 27th May we have our ‘Dalston Flower Show for Children’ as part of the Dalston Children’s Festival and then activities for 4 afternoons in half-term. Our Woodburner acoustic Tuesday nights start again in June, and although a long way away, a definite save the date is our Annual Pumpkin Carving Festival in October.
HUDSON: How has Dalston changed over the past few years?
Marie: Beyond recognition in many ways, in some ways, not at all! Positives for me are that Ridley Road Market and long-standing family businesses like Sound & Music are still hanging on, my own favourite much-loved Hackney Peace Carnival Mural was restored, and despite what sometimes feels like an onslaught of development, the community activism, amazing energy, brilliant mix of people is all still here.
HUDSON: You’ve got a dedicated team of volunteers. What do they do and can people get involved?
Marie: We have a fantastic group of volunteers. They can get involved with all aspects of the Garden, but one of the main ways to get involved is to join in one of our weekly Saturday afternoon gardening sessions, to learn about gardening, grow herbs and vegetables and look after our plants. Everyone is welcome even if they have never gardened before.
HUDSON: The Dalston Curve Garden is currently at risk of closure due to ‘redevelopment’ plans issued by the council. The deadline has passed but is there any way to get involved and help the fight to keep you open?
Marie: The first stage of Hackney Councils consultation about the future of the land around Ashwin Street, including part of the Garden has now finished. Hundreds of people wrote to the Mayor of Hackney and the planning department to tell them how much they value the Curve Garden and the Council are now analysing all the responses. We will keep everyone updated on what happens next if they follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
Pay a visit:
Dalston Curve Garden, 13 Dalston Ln, London E8 3DF
Nearest Tube: Dalston Junction
Map: Click here