W Bro Joseph Le Roi-Smith SLGR reports
In these difficult times of Covid-19 restrictions, many are facing loneliness, uncertainty and depression. Freemasons are no less affected than the rest of the population, so the facilities provided at Walworth Garden will be to our benefit as well as that of the wider community.
Gardening can be a lifetime companion,
but finding the time and vision to create
your own personal idyll can seem an
arduous chore. With 30 years of
experience building and growing
functional, biodiverse gardens, the team
at Walworth Garden, a charity established
in 1987 to provide welfare and education
in South East London, can transform
gardens and balconies of any size and
location, providing solutions that combine
modern living with environmental
In 2020, the Masonic Charitable
Foundation awarded a £10,000 grant to
this organisation which has a School of
Horticulture and training centre running
accredited City & Guilds courses. Its aim
is to build student confidence and
motivation, and provide the skills needed
to work in horticulture and gardening.
Many of its students go on to full-time
employment, some making a successful
career in horticulture. The training
provided covers, among other things, plant
propagation, pests and disease, pruning,
equipment handling and maintenance, and
health and safety.
Tutors take every opportunity to develop
the practical skills of local young people
as apprentices and trainees, and equip them
with jobs. Practicing what they preach,
the grant has been used towards
improvements in the infrastructure, making
its gardens accessible to greater numbers
of the community throughout all seasons.
And who better to create this new
environment than the staff and students.
The Central Courtyard has been covered
and re-landscaped. New all-weather, selfbinding
gravel allows the charity to
welcome visitors, even in the depths of
winter when the area would otherwise
have been covered in mud. This work
placed great demands on staff and
volunteers alike, including the excavation
and disposal of large tracts of the existing
land and the laying of tons of hard core.
The hard-wearing and permeable surface
has made a huge improvement to the site.
The Trustees wanted to demonstrate to
the community that, even in shallow
depths, water can attract an abundance of
wildlife so that parents need not be afraid
of creating a similar space in their own
gardens. Working on the basis that most
wildlife exists primarily in the shallows of
any water system, volunteers dug a large,
shallow, wildlife pond. Once filled,
wildlife began arriving almost immediately,
with birds swooping down for a drink and
to bathe, and bees resting on the rocks to
take a drink.
They also carried, by hand, reclaimed
hardwood sleepers to construct raised plant
beds. Housed in raised planting areas, this
system gives wheelchair users greater access
to the planting (for instance to the
pumpkins being grown).
CEO and Chief Gardener, Oli Haden,
informed us that, “To see, touch, smell,
hear and in timeto taste, the planting
juxtaposes a twenty-five metre native hedge
with edibles and ornamentation. In the
process of growing food for us and our
volunteers, we have ensured, by choosing
nectar-rich planting, that insects are also
fed.” He especially thanked the MCF
Trustees for their generosity.
To find out more about supporting
this charity, the email address is:
The team would be delighted to hear
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 42 October 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 42.