Hilltop, London: a slice of country life

Perched on the highest hill in South East London, Hilltop is a slice of country life in the country’s capital.

Opening with the Forest Hill Gardens Group, the garden has been lovingly created by Garden Owner, Frances Locke over 16 years. Join Frances for a wander through this country-style garden with meadow, new cutting border, assorted chicken breeds, and an ever-popular children’s story trail.

A closer look…

The original house at Hilltop was bombed in the Second World War, and when Frances started developing the garden in 2004, the soil was full of builders rubble. After sixteen years of adding huge amounts of homemade compost and leaf mould, the soil is slowly becoming easier to work with. “Making compost is a kind of magic”, Frances comments. “I always get excited when it’s ready.”

The garden’s resident chickens help maintain the garden too, thrilled to get working on the weeds each morning.

From plain suburban garden to a hilltop oasis, Frances has overcome the complexities of a historic site to create a garden filled with joy.

The story trail is a popular feature of Hilltop’s garden opening – with children and adults alike searching the garden for the sixty rhymes and stories. “It’s so lovely seeing children enjoying finding each scene hidden in the garden,” Frances comments. “I don’t want it to be too easy – I think they like a challenge. Some children come year after year so I try to make it different for them every summer.”

Find out more about the Forest Hill Gardens Group, and make sure to join Frances’ for her story trail when the garden gates reopen.

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