Tropical colours-right here in Newham

IT IS an oasis of colour and calm, no matter what the season, and it is at the heart of Newham.

Janet Daniels’ garden, in Latimer Road Forest Gate, once again attracted hundreds of visitors during an open weekend, raising more than �1,000 for charity.

The main garden, which is 90ft x 15ft and leads on to a secret 70ft x 40ft paradise, is listed in the prestigious Yellow Book guidebook listing more than 3,500 private sites across the UK.

Janet’s haven teems with colour, wildlife and fragrances, despite the approach of winter.

The main garden boast roses, lilies, tomatoes, herbs and even banana trees.And the secret garden resembles a tropical paradise and includes a pond full with wildlife,

Sixty-two-year-old Janet has held two open sessions, one in May and another in July, inviting people to enjoy the garden and raised money for anti-poverty charity then Asha Trust (�1,715) and National Garden Schemes (�1,608).

She said the garden and the open weekends have created a community feel, with friends and neighbours contributing plants, pots, cuttings and even baking cakes.

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“There are sitting areas and people come in for a cup of tea,’’ said Janet. “People say it is very peaceful because its so lush and green. Some people come on both days because it’s just a lovely experience.”

Children enjoy themselves too – there is a swing in the garden and many are fascinated by the pond life.

Janet often leaves items on her front garden for people to buy. They take what they want and put money in through her letter box. Others drop off plants, pots, cuttings for her in the same way.

Janet told the Recorder: “I just love plants. I can’t remember a time when I did not. I was gardening when I could walk. My great aunt was a keen gardener and used to take me to the park, telling me the names of all the plants. I had my own little plot”.

Though she was born in the East End, the family moved to Chadwell Heath where they lived in a flat.

Janet used to walk more than a mile to grow things in her great aunt’s garden as Janet’s family had no garden.

“Gardening is definitely a stress buster,’’ said Janet. “If I am feeling stressed, I say ‘I’m going out to the garden’ and it’s good for you.”

She realised the therapeutic benefits of gardening when, several years ago, husband John fell ill.

Janet turned her attention to what was an overgrown area at the bottom of the garden and turned it into the tropical paradise. She can spend up to 10 hours a day gardening during the Spring and also manages her allotments in Empress Avenue, Manor Park.