IAN JAMES - WATER LANE

Water Lane is one of the projects that may never have come about if it hadn’t been for the first lockdown. With a little more time on our hands than usual, thoughts about a new personal project started to take shape. We’d spent the previous 15 years or so creating and running Melrose and Morgan, a grocery store and kitchen in NW London and so were exploring ideas to keep us busy for the next 15 years.


*Image credits Maria Bell

Initially it was the growing flowers side of things that was of interest to us and after spending some months helping out at Wolves Lane Flower Co, it was clear to me that I wanted my own piece of land to practise some of the principals and ideas I’d learnt at WLFC.



That search uncovered the walled garden that is now Water Lane. A Victorian walled garden of one and three quarter acres, that had until recently been run as a plant nursery, offered a wonderful canvas from which to grow flowers and so much more. With space to grow, both undercover (the garden contains some 13 glasshouses, in various states of disrepair), and outside, their hope is to make a productive garden for the 21st century. As ideas began to formulate, it was clear that the growing of food crops should be an integral part of the the plan. And along with that a restaurant, a shop and a place where people could come together and learn. We opened the site in July 2021 having spent the spring turning a quarter of the garden into 80 no dig beds - half for flowers and half for veg. A team of like minded and passionate individuals from a variety of backgrounds have joined us on the journey we’re taking and are all adding to the canvas we create on. Water Lane stands on 3 simple pillars; FOOD, FLOWERS, FRIENDS.


Food: Harking back to its roots, we’re slowly bringing back the garden to its original purpose of growing fruit and vegetables. The produce we harvest is first and foremost destined for our cafe/restaurant sat within the walls. The menu focuses on the seasonal and put taste and flavour at the forefront of each dish that’s prepared.



Flowers: Sitting alongside our vegetable garden, you’ll find rows upon rows of seasonal flowers for cutting. Grown to organic principles without the use of pesticides or herbicides in no-dig beds. A carefully edited choice of seasonal blooms are available to buy in the during the spring, summer and autumn months. Whilst in winter we celebrate the dried flowers and seedheads we’ve collected.



Friends: Water Lane is a special place for people to come together and immerse themselves in the tranquility of a beautiful garden space. Whether it’s enjoying the food and drink we prepare in our cafe/restaurant with family and friends, or participating in a creative and practical workshop, we look forward to welcoming you, our friends.



Our aim is to create a democratic place where people can come and learn things. It just happens to be a garden, and that will always take the focus, but it doesn't mean other things can't happen here. Our hope is that anyone can come here, and if they don't know one end of a bulb from another, hopefully by the end of the course, they could go away and know how to plant some tulips or daffodils for example, while at the same time offering an opportunity for skilled teachers to come and share their knowledge around horticulture, floral design, any kind of artisan craft, food.

(From an interview by George Hudson in Issue 14 of Rake's Progress)


To celebrate the Spring Equinox in the company of the SSAW collective is something we’re really looking forward to. To meet like-minded individuals and then to be able to conjure up an event like this with them and pool knowledge and ideas is so exciting to us. We think the resulting weekend of learning, meeting new people and sharing thoughtfully prepared and delicious food has the makings of a memorable event for all those attending too.

 

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