Doxie (75), first saw St Mauritius House when her father moved in. “When I saw how happy he was, I thought: ‘This is a lovely place, I’d like to live here when I retire!”
After an operation left her vulnerable, Doxie was forced to look at new housing options for herself. Living in a maisonette became difficult because she couldn’t manage the stairs, so she thought about doing a house swap.
“People weren’t keen to live in Peckham at that time. So I decided to put my name down at St. Mauritius,” she explains.
She was thrilled to be offered a flat in 2007. “I was so happy to be living in a beautiful scheme, but I wondered what visitors would think about the overgrown garden. That’s when I decided to do something about it,” explains the former Lollipop Lady.
Since then, green-fingered Doxie has made it her mission to transform the communal garden. She started by removing weeds, pulling down the ivy that hid all the perimeter walls, and planting perennial bulbs.
“I thought: I live here, and I want the place to look nice. I was happy when the garden contractors painted the fence, but there’s still lots to do… the trees need to be cut back so we can sit on the benches and the gazebo needs to be repaired.”
Doxie loves working in the garden for hours on end and has no plans to slow down. “I never had a garden before, so now I can be creative – I’ve even got a vegetable patch where I grow things like potatoes, pumpkin, tomatoes, cucumbers and, this year for the first time, peas.”
She’s even managed to grow avocado, pineapple and ginger in the balmy porch. She reckons tending the garden – even when she’s a bit tired – energises her. “Your body deteriorates if you just sit around! And your brain turns to mush!”
She hopes more residents will visit the communal garden this summer: “They don’t have to do any work…I just want to encourage them to come and sit in the sun and amongst the greenery – it’s so revitalising.”