Skip to content

Explore London – Inspiration

Walking routes in London

There’s never been a better time for making the most of our green routes and enjoying the capital’s countryside, whether by foot, or on wheels. Be inspired by our bloggers and find breathtaking scenery and tranquil corners, right on your doorstep.

Urban cottage gardens that spark joy

By Annabel Rutherford

London has many hidden gems, and the terrace of Victorian railway cottages on Dorset Road in Wood Green is one of them. A short walk from Alexandra Palace station, there must be thousands of commuters passing through the station every year who have never heard about these cottages. I discovered them by chance one summer when taking a stroll around the neighbourhood. 

It was the bright pink and red foxgloves which have seeded themselves along the terrace that caught my eye as I passed the southern end of the road and glanced right. Of course, I couldn’t resist taking a closer look. The front gardens were in full bloom, the bees were buzzing, and the scent of lavender and honeysuckle filled the air. What a fabulous find – straight out of a Helen Allingham painting. 

It’s been over ten years since my first encounter with Dorset Road, and the front gardens haven’t changed very much in that time. Most of them are densely planted in a traditional cottage style and enclosed by picket fences or hedges. A couple of the owners have gone for a more up-to-date look with gravel gardens or paving and pots, but there’s still plenty of greenery.  

I feel lucky to live close enough to see the gardens in different seasons. Although they don’t look their best on a rainy January day, there’s always something of interest to admire; maybe some holly berries or winter jasmine, or a blackbird scratching around near a clump of snowdrops. It’s strange to see the gardens looking slightly subdued when taking their winter rest, when I know that by June they will be a blaze of colour. 

Dorset Road

The good news is that you can also enjoy the gardens in their summer glory, as part of the National Garden Scheme. On Sunday, 7 July, five of the cottage owners will be welcoming visitors to take a look around their front gardens, with two owners also opening their back gardens. 

Highlights include a potager-style front garden with raised vegetable beds made out of railway sleepers that nicely reference the history of the cottages that were originally built for employees of the eastern region of British Rail. The beds are crammed with a variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers. A couple of doors away, at No.22, you can chat to the grandson of a railway worker who originally lived in the cottage; refreshments are available in the shady, fern-filled rear garden at No.2; there’s a plants sale; and, of course, chats with people interested in gardens.

When researching the history of the cottages, I came across an article in The Observer that featured them as part of a wider discussion about how many front gardens in the UK have been paved over for parking. The article is here. The writer, Clare Coulson, makes the point that front gardens can be ‘a place to socialise, an oasis for wildlife, a gift to our neighbours’. The gardens on Dorset Road definitely tick all of these boxes.

Dorset Road


If you are tempted to visit, the cottages are located at 2-24a Dorset Road, Wood Green, N22 7SL. The closest train station is Alexandra Palace, and there are buses from Wood Green tube. For more details about opening times and directions, go to the National Garden Scheme website,

Before you finally head off home, you may as well walk down Dorset Road and past the depot, which will bring you into Bridge Road and another terrace of cottages with pretty front gardens. The first thing you will probably notice is the smell of pink roses.