Cutty Sark Gardens

A colleague recently suggested that I do a post on Cutty Sark Gardens. He had very strong views about the recent development – all quite negative. We then engaged in a long discussion about where exactly the gardens are. Admittedly we had drank a fair bit of wine by this point. I was having real difficulty trying to think where the gardens are. Having checked the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s website I now know that the gardens are within the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage site. They are the setting for the Cutty Sark Ship and are next to the Old Royal Naval College and the Discover Greenwich Visitor centre. I still think calling this area a garden takes a lot of poetic licence.

Cutty Sark Gardens Greenwich

The plans for the “make-over’ of the gardens were approved back in 2010 and were completed last year in time for the Olympics. There are five beds of different shapes and sizes. The planting scheme is very curious. Within each bed the different plants are sown in rows. Reminiscent of a domestic vegetable plot rather than a much loved historic riverside. The choice of plants is equally curious with some grass and perennial plants but little to reflect the Thames marshland. Just to make things worse there are areas that are just covered with weeds. Now, I realise that there is an ongoing debate in the horticultural world about what constitutes a weed. However, I am in no doubt that Joe Public will say that these are weeds.

Cutty Sark Gardens Greenwich

The challenge for development within a World Heritage site is to find the right balance between preserving the past and presenting the future. The design of the garden does little to achieve this. If you face northwards you are confronted with a relatively large space of grey stone with little to capture interest and draw you further into the garden. The edges of the beds do provide a welcome rest and place to sit for the numerous visitors to the site.