The Song of Hiawatha: A Composition by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
In early 2014 collaborative volunteer groups with overseeing and networking by former South Norwood councillor Jane Avis set to cleaning up a notorious fly tip site on South Norwood High St opposite Harris Academy South Norwood to transform it into a landscaped community garden with planning contributions and maintenance from Harris students under the tutelage of professional gardener Alan Oakley.
The idea to morph a hideous waste ground into a well-maintained public garden was conceived in late 2013 by South Norwood Tourist Board (SNTB) whose plan was to fix a dangerous bench and to try to get Captain Sensible to officiate at its formal transformation.
Permission was granted to install a wooden fence in early 2014 to prevent any further flytipping, which has worked. The garden’s name was painted on the fence and inscribed on banners. Councillor Jane Avis introduced the SNTB cheerleaders to Crystal Palace Transition Town’s (CPTT) Palace Pick-up volunteers, led by CPTT’s inspiring member Robbie Gibson, who had already transformed a number of green spaces in SE19 with extensive litter clearance.
The 26 July 2014 opening was heralded beforehand in the local papers, as Captain Sensible kept his promise to keep the day free to be guest of honour and guest performer in the Ship pub. Stephen Barnes’ Inside Croydon blog also wrote up descriptions of the celebrations with a Youtube interview. The revellers adjourned to the then-flourishing Ship pub close by, with a buffet and impromptu solo gig by Captain Sensible, rendering his local hit “Croydon” (co-written by Robyn Hitchcock) from 1982.
Located by a High Street bus stop, the garden has active gardeners from SNTB and CPTT continuing to plant flower bulbs and clear rubbish to keep it looking cared for and encouraging passers-by to sit and enjoy the space. Janice Green maintains her own Sensible Garden Facebook page that regularly shows updated garden images and sustainability features.