When did I first notice the magical little world contained in a front garden on Macduff Road? I can’t remember exactly, but for years it’s been one of my local landmarks, a spot I’ll swing past on my way back from the park, wondering what’s changed, stopping to gaze in childish delight. The front garden is little more than a small rectangular bed behind the low front wall of a rundown single-fronted terrace house. Between two bushy trees, a small riot of horticultural juxtaposition: moss, ivy, African violets, trickling water, cut flowers, tinsel, toy ladybirds, painted acorns. The details changed regularly, often reflecting the current season or festivities. Here’s a photo of part of the garden several years ago. There’s a Christmas card tucked in as a backdrop and silver Christmas trees from a garland creating a fenced pathway to the house on the card.
I hardly ever saw the gardener. A glimpse, perhaps, of a stooped figure in the doorway on a summer’s evening. The front window, mostly obscured by foliage, always had the curtains drawn. And at the top right, a toy panda, somehow pinioned against the glass, and encircled by silver stars.
Recently, the garden’s looked a little neglected. Fewer seasonal details. No more cut flowers skilfully knitted into the scene. Then, on Wednesday evening, after a stroll around Battersea Park, we swung past 10 Macduff Road and the fairy garden is no more. Ripped out. The panda gone, too. The house cleared, it seems. Such a sad, sad sight. And the fate of the gardener? I can only guess. I hope she knows, or knew, that some in the local area treasured the magical world she created. I’ll miss it, for sure.