The planting of perennials has begun in the newly-configured flower beds which run parallel to the A23. A large variety of plants has been embedded using a carefully thought-out planting plan. There are a wide variety of plants which are tall and mid-height perennials and grasses as well as edging perennials. For the horticulturally-minded, plants include: 4 different types of sedum, stachys, veronica, salvia; 3 sorts of Echinacea, phlomis, rudbeckia, nepeta and pennisetum. The beds should look lovely once the plants mature. Park staff are putting their energies into this planting so the grass in the park might get a bit longer than usual before it gets its next cut.
Here is one of the beds being planted out.
St Peter’s isn’t officially part of Preston Park. The thirteenth century church (the oldest building in Brighton, believe it or not) is overseen by The Churches Conservation Trust and the churchyard, although cared for by a council staff gardener, is the property of St John’s church. However we thought you’d be interested to know that Preston Park resident Chris Tredgold has volunteered his services to help conserve and enhance the churchyard and to make this historic and atmospheric area a haven for wild flowers and wildlife. Chris has been working one morning a week with 3 other volunteers and, with the collaboration of gardener George Harris, has planted snowdrops and a variety of summer flowers.
Thanks to the Tennis Club and their gardener Judy Martin some hedging has been planted on the wall which borders the tennis courts. They have also worked hard to clear and delineate some of the flat gravestones and to generally spruce up the area. A site plan has been created which, once realised, will see different areas of the graveyard devoted to either close mowing, medium-height wild flower areas or wild areas.
Yes, after many trials and tribulations and unfair press coverage, the Rock Garden is now open and proudly showing off its beautiful new pond. Rock Garden staff mentioned that the project has been the most complex and difficult that they’ve encountered. It was important to mend the leak in the pond: the level was dropping to dangerous levels but the extent of the obstacles that were encountered was unforeseen. ‘Who would have thought that there would be 150 tonnes of silt and many tonnes of rocks to be removed before we could tackle the crack in the pond?’ said a member of park staff. Contrary to a recent press article, the pond was emptied and repaired at the right time of year: the bottom of the pond needed to be dry and reasonably warm for the fibreglass filling to be effective.
Rock Garden gardener Andy Jeavons has worked hard to create a lovely area. The pond frontage has been cleared so that both pond and cascade can be enjoyed from the road and the main park. New raised beds have been built and planted around the edges of the pond and underwater planters created and planted with water plants. For instance, 10 water lilies – two each of pink, 1 ￼￼white, apricot, yellow and red and all different varieties. There’s also water forget-me-not, marsh marigold, American skunk cabbage, 5 varieties of iris, lobelia cardinalis, pickerel weed, bog arum and ligularia, plus water hawthorn and bog bean.
The cascades were full of tadpoles and other wildlife so when the cascades were switched on the wildlife was washed into the pond and will hopefully thrive. The fish will be introduced back to the pond in stages. A really good bird hide at the top of the garden has now been completed, so bird-lovers will be able to ‘spot’ more effectively. There will be an official opening in the near future to celebrate the achievement.
Nearly there . . .
You can see the cascade just reaching the pond after having been switched on for the first time since the repair work began. The blue plastic sheet is to help all the tadpoles reach the pond safely.
Andy is joint proprietor, with his wife Judy, of the Chalet Cafe in the middle of the park. He’s held the position for 29 years.
What do you enjoy about the job?
I really enjoy the social side and having the chance to meet everyone. I see mums come in with their children – and before you know it, they’re teenagers! The other day a 22-year-old man came in and said ‘do you remember me? I was the baby in the photo taken just here’. I’ve seen the actor Richard Hawley’s children grow up. The twins are at uni now I think. It’s a wonderful park and I have a wonderful outlook on to it; I’m glad I’m not staring at four walls in an office somewhere.
I understand you played for the Albion. How did that come about?
I was a young lad of 19 and playing for Norwich. I played four games in the Premier League (what was then called the First Division) for them when Brian Clough turned up wanting to sign three players – including me. I said I’d have to ask my Dad but he said ‘you’re 19 now, a grown man, you’re able to make your own decisions’.
He was very persuasive and so, within an hour of first meeting him, I’d signed for Brighton. He said ‘you’re going to be my next Roy McFarland’. With that statement ringing in my ears I joined Brighton and Hove Albion and played as a central defender from 1974 to 1980.
What change would you like to see in the park?
I would love to see a park police officer in the park – we had them in 1974. The officer would be a little presence in the park to deter people from doing things they shouldn’t be doing. They develop a good liaison with the public. The park police used to be stationed in the room above us here, so if anyone had a question or concern we could say knock on the door – if they aren’t in they’ll be patrolling the park. I would love to see more planting and a bit more colour in the park, although I understand there are constraints at the moment.
What do you like about the park?
I love the way the park is used now. There’s so much sport going on and exercise – and enjoyment.
Want to get fit? Every Saturday at 9am, you can take part in a 5K run – just you against the clock, whatever your current level of fitness.
It’s free but you need to register before your first run. For details see the parkrun site.
A new bird hide is in the process of being built at the top of the Rock Garden. Here are some pics of the work in progress. We’re sure that bird-lovers will enjoy spotting the surprisingly diverse varieties of birds from here. Thanks go to the park staff for their work.
The latest news from the rock garden staff is that the finishing line is in sight. The photograph shows the old fibreglass removed, with the new fibreglass due to be laid in the next few days.
If all goes according to plan, the pond will be filled up, with waterfall on, on the Friday before the next Bank Holiday (6th May) weekend. The very first fish will hopefully be put in the pond during week commencing 22nd April.
Interesting new planting will be created around the perimeter and planters will be installed in the centre of the pond, all of which will be great for dragonflies and other insects.
The work taking place over the next few weeks should also put a stop to the use of the pond by skateboarders!
Two unused bowling greens and an area around the demonstration garden in Preston Park will become wildflower meadows this spring in a bid to makeover the spaces, provide shelter and food for wildlife and a spectacular display for park users and local residents.
Come and join the wildflower sowing and learn how to create a wildflower area. Native wildflower experts will be on hand to show you how to attract wildlife into your food growing area, garden or allotment. A community picnic will then follow to celebrate the start of spring.
Wednesday 17th April, 10am-1pm. Free, all welcome. Meet outside the Rotunda cafe at 10am.
The Preston Twins (probably the oldest Elm trees in Europe) had a pruning session last week. The tree surgeon said that the trees were in a very healthy state and that there was no reason why they couldn’t live on for another hundred years.