Pics from the Rookery

Crocus Thommasinianus

Crocus Thommasinianus



Tulip Fusillier

Tulip Fusillier



Thanks Andy for these photos. Check out the Rookery’s Facebook page.

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Saving the newts!

You may remember we told you about the cleaning of the pond by the Rotunda. Well, after the cleaning and before the plants were installed a leak was discovered. The council is required to get 3 quotes for the work – this has taken a long time. In the meantime the colony of newts which has populated the pond for years has begun to gravitate to the pond to mate. Unfortunately some newts (maybe a dozen?) have died because the water level in the pond is no longer viable for the newts – and there’s no vegetation for them.

Park staff have been working hard to gather up as many newts as possible and take them to the wildlife pond to the north of the park. This area has been fenced off to protect the newts, and a notice explaining the situation is displayed. So far Emma, our Park Ranger, as well as other park staff helped by members of the public have collected over 200 newts and have successfully relocated them. They’re thriving in the wildlife pond. Once the Rotunda pond is ready the newts will be returned to their home. It’s a shame that the work to repair the pond has taken so long – and has extended over the most important part of the year for the newts.

Here’s some photos taken today. They include a pic of Oliver and Freya who have been helping Emma to gently gather the newts:

IMG_0665 IMG_0666 IMG_0662 IMG_0664 IMG_0661

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If January has got you down …

Winter-flowering aconites

Some beautiful winter-flowering aconites under one of the ‘twins’ to lift the spirits during a really dismal month.

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A profile of Mick Ransom

Mick Ransom

What’s your role in Preston Park?
My job title is Preston and Patcham Team Leader. I head up the staff in the park and, in the Preston and Patcham area, I’m responsible for verges, green spaces in housing sites and schools as well as Hollingbury, Carden and Blaker’s parks.

How many staff do you currently have on your team? I have 5 people at the moment and they work in different areas as well as Preston Park.

How long have you had your job? I’ve worked in the Parks Department for 33 years come May. I’ve been a team Leader for 17 years.

What do you like about your job? I love Preston Park. I really like the diversity of people you see in the park and seeing that the park is accessible to everyone.

What would you change about the park? More staff! We try to do the best we can with limited staff and resources – I’d like to see a reverse to the inevitable drop in standards. In an ideal world I’d like to see the colourful flower beds back – anything that brings more people into the park really.

What hobbies do you enjoy? I like to cook, especially French and Italian. A French relative taught me to cook a while back and I’ve enjoyed it ever since.

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Parking money spend latest

The project team which is responsible for the implementation of park-users’ decision about the spending of parking-fee money has told us that:

‘Following the consultation in which the Velodrome area was chosen for improvement we have met with the groups active at the Velodrome and agreed the following improvements:

  • Repair and modification of the flint terraced structure; remove one of the central tarmac paths and create a longer grassed terraced in it’s place and repair the crumbling flint supporting the terraces to a good standard: 70%
  • Completion of the existing more modern fencing around the velodrome so that the increased cycle use is safe and less prone to people and animals climbing in during races: 15%
  • Contribution towards the St Peters Cricket Club artificial wicket: 15%

Cityparks, in their efforts to ensure that they are able to maintain facilities, is looking at increasing income from track use as well as entering into a new lease arrangement with St Peters Cricket Club in which they manage the Pavilion and cricket pitches themselves.

The reality is that as we have changed the parking charges structure to make it easier for people to use the park. Parking income in future will not generate the same income as we have seen in the first year. We have always said that the monies should be spent on priorities that are set out in the Green Flag Management Plan.’

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Windy victims

Flowering cherry

This nice old flowering cherry fell victim to the windy weather over the Christmas period. It used to be in the picnic area.

More happily, a beautiful strawberry tree, which was also floored by the wind, has been trimmed and re-planted! It’s hoped that the shallow roots of the tree will re-establish in this wet weather. If it doesn’t thrive it still makes a lovely sculpture.

Strawberry tree


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Getting radical in the Rookery


There’s been more radical activity in the Rookery (or Rock Garden) that you may have noticed. It was decided to take out some old, overgrown shrubbery and replant the area as a winter garden.

Andy Jeavons, who’s in charge of the garden, says: ‘Coloured winter bark from willows and dogwood along with lots of taller grasses to give all year round movement and will form the backbone of the garden. The other major factor will be scent: daphnes, sarcococca and vibernums will run along the paths to give some lovely winter perfume. And three new trees – a Eucalyptus, a Prunus and a Betula will provide some extra interest. The area will also be mulched and then planted with spring flowering bulbs in the autumn.’

The rocks from that part of the garden have been removed but will be stored by the council for future use.

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Volunteering in the Rose Garden

Rose Garden

The Rose Garden is looking a lot better, the roses are pruned and most of the beds are less weed-choked than before. We’re told that the new roses are now due in mid-February to be planted later on that month. All the beds in the garden will be mulched with mushroom compost in the next few weeks, and that should help to keep the weeds at bay.

Volunteers in the Rose Garden are doing a great job. If you’d like to come along you’d be very much welcomed. Meet Park Ranger Emma at 10.30am outside the Rotunda on the following Saturdays:

  • 15 February
  • 15 March
  • 12 April
  • 24 May

Wear sturdy shoes and bring gardening gloves if you have them. Emma will provide refreshments, experience isn’t needed.

There’s been interest expressed for a mid-week Rose Garden volunteering group too. Just think: healthy exercise, good company, working in the sunny outdoors, making a real difference to your park . . . If you’re interested come along to the Men’s Bowls Pavilion at 11.15am on Thursday 20 March when we’ll meet up with Emma and decide on the weekday volunteering routine.

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Rotunda pond news

The pond by the Rotunda is currently undergoing refurbishment and cleaning. ‘Pete’s Ponds’ are undertaking the work; they are passionate about preserving the pond’s wildlife and will ensure the natural equilibrium of the pond is maintained. Pete, of Pete’s Ponds, was able to report that he’d come across 2 frogs (one a very pregnant female), some broad-bodied chaser dragonfly larvae, 3 species of snail (ear pond, great pond, great ramshorn), 1 goldfish, some water boatmen and some freshwater shrimps! Blimey.

No newts as they’ve ‘gone terrestrial’ as Pete put it. They’ll be back.

Here’s some pics including expectant mother:

rotunda_pond-100 rotunda_pond-101

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The Purple Grape, Preston Drove

Sad news. Our Friend, Shelley, of The Purple Grape, is having to close her wine shop because of ill health.

We are asked to pass on to all or Friends that all stock is selling at a 30%  discount. The shop will be open between 4.30 and 8.00 pm today, (Thursday 21st), Friday and Saturday.

Cheers to you Shelley.

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