Railway gardens

I might be in a minority here, but I just love suburban train journeys. All the opportunities to spy on people’s back gardens! The journey I love the most starts in the country, where the gardens normally have a field at the bottom running down the railway line, with a couple of ponies or some hens fussing around, then, behind a lovely deep green hedge, a glorious garden.

Then the gardens start to get a little closer together. There are the big long back gardens with tree houses and shrubberies and a pergola near the back door. Then there are the smaller, more suburban gardens, with a path running down the right hand side to the shed, an apple tree in the middle of the lawn and two neat beds running down either side. Some of the grander versions of these suburban gardens have a section at the back behind a trellis or a hedge where the vegetables are grown in neat rows.

And then we get closer in, and the gardens get smaller. Some of them are packed with plants, overcompensating for their tiny size. Some are deserts: just cheap paving slabs and a rusty table and chairs with an ashtray filled with rainwater. Some are lush – with Japanese knotweed. Just ten minutes later, and the gardens are gone. And then the fun begins. Because the balcony and roof gardens begin. How much can you pack onto one tiny balcony? You wouldn’t believe it until you saw the tomatoes and squashes a woman grows near the tracks on my journey. It is spectacular.

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