Living in central London doesn’t mean you need to give up the chance to enjoy open space, some peace and quiet and all the other benefits of having a back garden. In a recent interview with Dolphin Square’s Head Gardener, Michael Deville, we found out about one of London’s most surprising gardens.
When did you start working in the gardens at Dolphin Square?
I started working here around three years ago when I joined as an assistant gardener. I have been here ever since.
What is it about Dolphin Square that made you want to work here?
I think it’s a question of prestige more than anything else. I was a courier for many years and I was always aware of Dolphin Square. I think anyone who knows anything about London generally is aware of Dolphin Square, so when I saw the position advertised I jumped at the chance to work here. Getting the job was a dream come true.
Can you describe the gardens at Dolphin Square?
People may be surprised to hear that we have three and a half acres of prime garden space within the walls of Dolphin Square, and apart from Buckingham Palace you are not going to get that anywhere else in SW1. It’s very special and certainly a one-off.
What I like most is that there are so many different parts within the square, there are gardens within gardens surrounding the main square. From the Chinese and Dutch gardens to the Moroccan terrace overlooking the rest of the square from above. We use the square’s artesian well to water the garden, so we are very lucky to have our own supply of water meaning our plants are always looked after regardless of the weather.
What is your favourite spot within the gardens?
It’s hard to choose as all the little gardens have their own special things about them, but I think my favourite place within the gardens has to be right by the fountain, in the main part of the square. Here you can enjoy our roses and the summer flowerbeds, which when in bloom are very vibrant and produce a lot of great colours and fragrances. It’s great when you come down either side of the square and turn the corner, to see the colours of main square for the very first time. We have around twenty different types of roses here at Dolphin Square and their scent will stop you in your tracks.
How do residents enjoy the gardens?
The residents here at Dolphin Square really do cherish their gardens. Green space in London is rare, so the residents completely understand how lucky they are to have the gardens to enjoy some peace and quiet. When you notice the fountain being turned off at 4 o’ clock, it is then that you realise just how quiet and tranquil it is inside the square. It’s a different world in here and it is very precious to the residents.
Why is Dolphin Square different to other gardens in London?
One of the reasons is that we have our own microclimate in the square. We are completely surrounded by the buildings here, so whatever weather system is happening outside it can be completely different inside. You can sometimes find that within the square it’s blowing a gale and then when you step out of the square it is completely calm, and the other way around. A lot of our plants flower earlier and last longer throughout the seasons too. Residents can enjoy roses still in bloom in winter.
What will 2013 bring to the garden?
I have recently designed two new beds within the square so I am really looking forward to seeing the new gardens really take shape early next year. Every year is different year as the square is always evolving.
There’s lots to look forward to in 2013.