How do you keep a pub green when patrons keep sitting on pot planters or using them as ashtrays?

I have got to meet gardeners in all kinds of locations recently, but you can imagine how pleased I was when one invited me to their garden on top of a local pub!

The Haggerston Pub, Kingsland Road, Hackney

The green space just peaking out over the edge of the roof is where Isabel Hankart does her gardening….So what’s the link between The Haggerston Pub and De Beauvoir you might ask… Firstly, the gardens in our project do covers areas beyond the realm of De Beauvoir Town, but there are closer ties between the pub and our group. Isabel is a resident of De Beauvoir, she supports the group and recently attended the fantastic talk given by Chris Collins at The De Beauvoir Gardeners a few weeks ago. The Haggerston Pub are also proud of their location on the edge of De Beauvoir Town, bringing out the De Beauvoir beer in the next couple of weeks, oh yes you heard it here first….

A sneak peek of the new beer coming to Hackney soon…

Anyhow, once Isabel and I had our beers we moved onto the plants….

Isabel explained to me that she got Neil, the landlord interested into the idea of a roof garden 2 years ago. This way there is much less damage possible to the plants and flowers and edible plants are able to grow undisturbed. Neil is very happy with her project as it makes his pub look nice and Isabel is pleased how he has got more and more interested in what goes on up there.

Not that it’s easy to get to…..

The entrance to the roof garden!

Up on the roof, Isabel told me she was pleasantly surprised at what had survived up there. With limited watering and being so unsheltered she was pleased to see that her Kale and Chard had survived the snow at winter. Due to the nature of the garden, visitors are unable to visit the roof, but this understanding of the viewers’ perspective directs the way that Isabel plants and grows; the gardening goes from top to bottom.

View onto Kingsland Road

In beautiful contrast, Isabel’s planters line up parallel to the Kingsland Road traffic.

Isabel grows a range of flowers and vegetables; among the flowers she has Knifophia and Euphorbias growing. She also grows New Zealand Flax, brassicas and Rainbow Chard. With her brassicas flowering in January, she is convinced that an edible garden offers a variety of colour and interest all year round. Isabel and Neil seem both agreed on her gardening outlook…not a piece of ivy or a Geranium in sight! They both prefer a more natural growing space which is why the edible landscaping lends itself so well to the garden.

Down in the kitchen, Jack and Alex tell me that they would like more access to the herbs, Isabel brings them cuttings down when she does maintenance on the garden. Perhaps they could arrange some kind of plant pulley system…?

Jack and Alex

As an architect and a gardener, Isabel has a keen eye for orientation, light, access, building structure and green roofs. She sensibly has the planters screwed via brackets onto the walls, nothing weighs down onto the roof itself. Isabel tries to garden ethically and is also keen to buy her plants from Columbia Road and St Mary’s secret garden. She enjoys supporting local trade and community, finding that she also discovers plants that she never finds in much larger superstores.

Watch Isabel talk about her garden here:

Isabel Hankart is also currently working on Remade in brixton

On our way downstairs we bumped into Tim, who runs the art gallery in the basement. There seems to be a great crossover between displines at the pub, Tim photographs alongside Isabel’s gardening.

Tim at work overlooking the roof garden


One response to this post.

  1. Love the way that – viewed the right way, down Kingsland Road – the street trees appear to be an integral part of Isabel’s ingenious sky planting!

    I was trying to find a way to get those tree pits adopted and under-planted one afternoon recently but it seems that they all get treated as rubbish dumps every night, so the chances of keeping anything (except perhaps for Isabel’s despised ivy) alive in there are rather slight. On the other hand, I do have about six different forms of ivy (and others no doubt have even more) from which to take cuttings, if anyone over in Kingsland Road fancies undertaking some seriously demanding street gardening….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: