The most beautiful garden in Lee Green? Read how they do it

P1000883“We didn’t know it was going to be such a big thing,” reflects Barbara Polanski on her glorious garden at 41 Southbrook Road, “It just grew!”

And grow it did. It is hard to believe this profusion of colour and scent was once just lawn.P1000884

Barbara and Marek are former art teachers and brought their artists’ eye to the garden. They moved to Lee Green fifteen years ago and started designing the garden straightaway. “We knew we wanted running water, a parterre and borders,” says Barbara, “We wanted a very romantic garden and that’s what we got.” P1000896

Although they started opening the garden to the public before Barbara retired, both are now able to spend most days working on the garden. Though they do have time to sit and enjoy it.P1000897“Marek is a very focused person,” Barbara reflects, “and he worries about a job until he has done it. That’s why the garden is so complete.” 


A sunny seat has designs inspired by Pompei and painted by Marek.

P1000888A Constance Spry rose graces the rear wall while geums and a geranium grew in Barbara’s mother’s garden and have always moved with them. P1000890A giant gunnera arches over the pond. P1000892The design is enhanced by the statues and pots, some discovered in reclamation yards. P1000898

Annuals come from Coolings and timing has been tricky this year because it has been so cold. However, while some of us are still planting, the Polanskis’ pots are rich and colourful.

Barbara and Marek do use insecticides to keep greenfly at bay but they don’t like using weedkillers like glyphosate so Marek digs the beds in winter before plants start growing and removes any convolvulus invading the beds. They also use slug pellets; Barbara admits she used to throw snails over the wall into the railway embankment, but usually she just stamps on them!P1000900

There is no irrigation system, but Barbara says the natural shade seems to ensure the borders don’t dry out. If they need a drink, she puts the hose on.P1000880

The worst gardening moment for the couple was when they returned from France to find Network Rail workers cutting down trees on the railway embankment. They remain grateful to a neighbour who stopped the work before it went too far – and to local MP Heidi Alexander who raised the matter in Parliament.


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