A little ornamental oasis of calm and serenity in the middle of Peckham Rye
King Krule sings of it. William Blake claimed to have seen an oak “filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars” there. London’s Peckham Rye is the poet’s park and sandwiched somewhere in the middle of the triangular open space is Sexby Garden, as sultry in the spring as its name suggests.
My fondness for the ornamental garden is new-ish. We lived in Leeds but summers spent in Peckham visiting family were a highlight of my childhood. I moved to London in 2008 and visited the garden five or so years ago, smashing my phone while trying to take a picture of a budding artichoke thistle. I returned last spring for my daily walk and wondered why I had left it so long. The wisteria-topped pergola provides a cinematic entrance. The lilac plants wrap tightly around the wooden columns so that when you walk through, you’re in near-darkness until you reach the garden’s centrepiece: a circular, soft-flowing fountain, usually full of floating petals, haloed with sunlight and garnished with children stirring their hands in the water.