There are many. It starts before stepping off Chelsea Bridge heading south. The burger van. Greasey smell and crumpled paper not-quite-in-the- bin to contrast with the tai chi. The bicycling, the limber upping, the joggers, runners, the dog walkers. And just the plain old A to Bers. Walking in the dappled shade from the avenues of lime trees. I love these hefty limes with peely olivegreengrey and emerald trunks, the boating pond, the children’s zoo. The platform of stone below the Peace Pagoda – the people stretching there. The view from the steps of battered old Thames barges. Goodness knows what evil things they are ferrying down the river.
Turn the other way to an ecstasy of fountains, dancing spouts and thrown jets of water Alhambra style. Dogs everywhere and they are pretty good to watch as they go about their antics and socialising. Hidden for them in a shrubby corner is the monument to Brown Dog. I like that too but round the next corner beyond the Buddhist monk’s dwelling house is the Old English Garden. No idea how old but I guess 1930s and with this year’s new planting smouldering pouting purples that lower out of the sun bursting through a plant palette to the late season plants, agastaches and heleniums. A peaceful place to lounge on a sturdy bench under the pergola with massive girth of wisteria.
But the place or thing that I like most of all is up the far end under the lee of the Albert Bridge. Hemmed about with tall trees and looking off-putttingly and misleadingly private down a tarmaced track – the park’s Herb Garden. Down the west side are all the parks admin offices. End of the run of former workshops is the one belonging to Thrive. Thanks to Thrive, the charity that brings horticultural therapy to heal maladies, purpose to fill lives. Most to the point brings a pool of talent to keep the Old English Garden and this more secret Herb Garden looking good. A tapestry of plants that would normally get chocked by weeds is kept immaculately tended. Rows of greeny blue leeks, waiting unpulled for next week’s Flower Show, marigolds dead headed and still flowering amain, small sprinklings of late parsley sowings. Bean tripods way above head height still yielding harvest. There are benches in the shade of trees, benches for sun workshippers and in the silky breeze of an indian summer the murmer of the leaves keep the noisome sounds of growling London at bay. A soothing and attractive garden. And as for the greenhouse……….well, I love that best of all.