A green haven for all ages

Get to know the members the inter-generational gardening group at Rowland Hill

11 October 2022

Next to a busy north London Road, gardeners of all ages are coming together to grow their own and explore the environmental benefits of plants. Each week, Rowland Hill Nursery School and Children’s Centre hosts an inter-generational gardening group, open to all locals of all ages with a passion for plants and willingness to get stuck in.

Each corner of the garden at Rowland Hill offers a new surprise for the senses. Packed with raised beds for growing fruit, vegetables and plants for pollinators, the site also contains a small pergola surrounded by jasmine and herb containers, as well as tactile activity spots for children such as a lentil station and clay corner. Children’s Centre Manager, Toni Wheeler, is passionate about creating a space for children and adults to thrive in together. Her hope is to raise participants’ self-esteem and teach new skills and reduce isolation.

She says, “The group has a true sense of shared ownership because everyone who is involved genuinely feels part of the community and it’s a chance to learn from one another.”

Meet some of the members


Group member Stella and her daughter Zoe, aged two, come to the gardening group each week. They love experiencing the garden in all seasons and learning about the growth cycle of plants. They’ve been inspired to try growing their own food at home, and Zoe’s enjoying trying new vegetables.

Rachel and her son Jackson, aged two, are also regular members of the group and were helping to cut ripe courgettes when we visited.

“Having outdoor space for Jackson to learn what is safe to eat and connect with people of different ages is really important for his development. Plus, it’s an opportunity for him to get dirty without worrying about the cleanliness rules that were drilled in during the pandemic.”

Sharing gardening know-how


Rowland Hill’s gardening club wouldn’t be the same without Sandra and Don – the club’s go-to people for growing advice. Living nearby and keen gardeners all their lives, Sandra and Don were thrilled when the group began. Ploughing through a long to-do list during our visit, Don was helping the children to harvest a new crop of potatoes that were shared among the group to take home.

“It’s great to see all of the children mucking in and have a go at something new.”

With big plans for the future of the space, Don and Sandra would like to expand the garden to include additional spots for growing flowers to support more pollinators, as well as sharing their knowledge with the group about how to get the best yield from their crops all year-round.

A hidden green haven


A feature of the garden that the group are especially proud of is the living wall. Added to the garden’s external fence as a means to provide privacy from the busy main road and bus stop, the gardening group have installed over 420 plants to cascading planters with thanks to funding from an RHS Connected Communities Fund.

Made from connecting sections of three joined planters, the wall features a number of thriving plants such as alpine wood ferns, lilyturf and ivy . Looking for plants that have sensory elements for the children to enjoy, the wall also has the added benefits of offsetting air-pollution caused by cars and the local bus service.

As the group is volunteer led, creating a green wall that is low maintenance was also a key factor in their purchase. Watered from the top, each plant pot contains a small well at its bottom, allowing water that trickles down the wall to collect and create a reserve for hot days or longer-periods between watering. With the success of one green wall now in place, the group are keen to raise funding and replicate it across the remaining open patches or fence they have, creating a hidden green haven for group members to enjoy each week.

Keep up to date with Rowland Hill’s gardening progress on their website.