Through the gates of the old demesne the sounds of the city are replaced by wind whispers. Behind me I hear the approach of runners with the steady friction of their shoes meeting the paths touring the park. Children’s laughter comes from the playground to the left. I cut across the grass to the gateway of the old walled garden.
An arched entrance with open gates stands in welcome. The path slopes down the centre of two lawns towards an empty sunken concrete pool. Gardeners are out with their wheelbarrows weeding, preparing and planting the perennial beds that colour the borders of this first sanctuary.
Ascending from to the pool I enter the gates of the heritage orchard. Pale pink almond blossoms proclaim a promise of a good harvest. The fruit trees from a few hundred years ago are finding their way home again. In the far left corner bees are waking up from their winter sleep and are busy making their honey behind the green mesh of their designated home.
Through the opening of the back wall I step into the kitchen garden with its sculpted herb garden, neat rows of strawberries under mulch, rhubarb borders, fruit trees espaliered on the back wall, central garden tunnel, vegetables growing from the bulbs planted in the winter, and empty beds waiting for their purposes to be fulfilled.
Here I am greeted by other wellie wearing locals. Finding my way to one of the gardeners I discover how I can help for the day. With gloves on and shovel in hand we dig trenches for old varieties of Irish potatoes that strangely resemble ginger. Cabbages grown from seed in the tunnel are planted in rows and watered. There will be plenty of cabbage this year! The tea bell rings. We put down our tools, take off our gloves and gather around the table where we are reunited with the other community gardeners who have been applying their skills to help the garden grow. Children with chocolate ringing their mouths and half eaten biscuits in their hands entertain with their stories. The kettle is passed around.
It doesn’t take long until it’s time to hang the tools up in the shed, pull off the gloves and follow the path through the orchard, the perennials, and out the main gate again. But there, with city apartments surrounding it, Santry Community Garden is a place to be with others, learn about the earth and enjoy the fruit of our labour.