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Besson Street Community Garden

Besson Street Community Garden, on the very busy north-east corner of the junction with Kender Street, is a remarkable green oasis in the middle of the Kender Estate and the New Cross Gate one-way system.

Opening hours

The site is leased to the New Cross Gate Trust . They run a number of events such as Adult Learning Courses to under 5s Stay and Play. The site has frequent open days, but is otherwise locked for security reasons.

The adjacent Kender Street School has a gate leading directly into the garden, and visits are frequently made for lessons, 'bug hunts' and to help with site management.

Flora - Multi-cultural garden

The garden consists of two main parts. Half of the site is a 'traditional' community nature area, with a meadow, a pond and a mixed native hedge along the fence.

The western half of the site has been innovatively designed as a 'multi-cultural garden', with plants reflecting the diverse origins of people in the local community.

There are:

  • Spanish-dagger from the Caribbean 
  • ricepaper plant and bamboo from China and Vietnam
  • olives and pomegranates from the Mediterranean
  • ginger from India
  • the very spiky  from Central America 
  • fan palms from North Africa

Hardy species from every continent have been planted, and most seem to. Many have outgrown the native species planted at the same time; a Eucalyptus delegatensis from Australia reached over ten metres in height in its first five years.

Closer to home, an unusual hybrid between the native common ragwort and silver ragwort, a common garden plant, was moved here from a development site on Adamsrill Road, where it was found by the Council’s nature conservation section.

This wide range of plants of different origins ensures a year-round supply of nectar for local insects, with shrubs such as Buddleja officinalis (a close relative of the familiar B. davidii) flowering in winter. 

The garden also has conservation significance in that several species growing here are endangered in the wild  including the Chilean wine-palm, Mexican strawberry-tree, and Canary spurge from the laurel forests of Madeira and the Canary Islands.

In 1998, a small area of temperate rainforest was planted behind the study centre.

Study centre

A study centre, funded by the London Marathon, was opened by Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyoauku in November 1993.


Kender Street, in the historic manor of Hatcham, was first laid out in the 1820s and houses from this time do survive. Besson Street, running off it, was built up by the 1860s.

Much of the housing in these close-knit streets was swept away in the early 1970s when the Kender Estate was built by the Greater London Council.
The idea of a community garden on the site was originally conceived by local people.

The Nature Conservation Section became involved in the design, and planting began in the summer of 1990.

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