Please help us to fund our programme of activities in the park by making a donation:
What's coming up?
Next meetingNo public meetings are planned at present. We'll let you know as soon as we fix one up.
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- June 2010
The first few days of December have carried the first winter chill, and the park reflects this change of season. Most trees have now lost their leaves, the roses in the Rose Garden have had a ‘hard prune’, and of course the wildflowers down by the Rotunda Cafe are just a distant memory. But the compensation for Preston Park birdwatchers is that many birds are now much easier to see. For example, at this time of the year, Jays are more conspicuous as they forage for acorns, which are then cached as winter food. Nationally there has been an influx of Jays from the continent in recent weeks, and Preston Park has benefited from this. In the last week, there has also been an increase in Pied Wagtails in the park – they are an attractive small black and white bird – and they wag their tails as their name suggests!
Talking of birds that are mostly black and white, Great Spotted Woodpeckers are much easier to see at this time of the year. You won’t hear their characteristic drumming for a couple of months yet, but their sharp ‘kick’ call is often a giveaway, and helps you to locate the birds climbing up the bough of a tree. A good place to look for these birds is around the clock tower. Finally, if there is hard weather up north, we should see some Redwings arriving into the park. Redwings are a small thrush, visiting us from Scandinavia. They find our winters mild and inviting, and although shy, are sometimes seen raking over the leaf litter, searching for tasty morsels to get them through a long and chilly night.
Here’s a photo of a Redwing:
Tony Benton, Chair, Friends of Preston Park
There are eight volunteer gardeners who meet on Tuesday mornings to help out in the garden. Here are some of them, with George, clearing one of the beds:
You may remember that a couple of the beds in the garden have been cleared and sprayed off in an attempt to keep down the hated bindweed. The best of the plants have been preserved and will be ‘cleaned’ and replanted in the spring.
Volunteers have been a special part of the garden since 1995. Marguerite Wright is a founder and key member of the group, she answered our questions.
What’s special about the Walled Garden?
The garden contains an astonishing variety of plants, especially for a public garden. We are very lucky to have such a beautiful resource.
Tell us about the Heritage Lottery Grant refurb
This was a grant to refurbish the garden, it was agreed in 1996 and was the first successful HL bid by the council. The whole refurbishment took about 4 years and the garden was closed for a short while during this time. The garden was emptied and plants put into ‘holding’ in the kitchen garden. Paths were re-laid and things like the sundial replaced. When the infrastructure was finished the volunteers helped replant the garden. Only plant varieties cultivated before 1922 were used in order to respect to the heritage of the garden. It was part of the agreement for the grant that a gardener dedicated to the Walled Garden be appointed – hence George.
What are your hopes for the future of the garden?
That it continues to be maintained to a high standard and the huge variety of plants enjoyed for many generations to come. We want more people to visit and appreciate the garden. Thank you Marguerite. Sadly we have had some vandalism in the garden recently. People have been coming in at night, there has been damage to the beautiful wrought-iron gates which lead into the Manor lawn, benches have been moved and broken, plants damaged or destroyed and the pond affected too. It seems to have stopped now though, maybe because of the weather . . .
As we draw to the close of another year, you may be interested to read this report of the activities of Friends of Preston Park over the past twelve months:
Annual report November 2013 to November 2014 (PDF, 276K)
The Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Preston Park will be held this Saturday at 11am in the Men’s Bowls Pavilion (near the Rotunda Cafe).
Be re-assured, the formalities will be kept to an absolute minimum! Primarily this will be a chance to ask questions or make comments about any aspect of the park.
We will be particularly interested to hear from anyone who will be able to help us in any way next year, however little or infrequent that may be.
Here are the volunteers who work hard in the Rock Garden every Wednesday from 10am to 1pm. The volunteer group was started around four years ago with Trixie as the founder member. After several short-term volunteers Anastasia joined the group then Alison and finally, last year, Hugh joined the volunteers.
Andy Jeavons, the garden Manager, says ‘The garden wouldn’t be a fraction of what it is now without their help. Although much of the work involves weeding, the volunteers enjoy planting many of the spring bulbs and herbaceous perennials, edging up the beds and screes and even decorating the chalet on wet days.’
The volunteer also have occasional visits to gardens. Outings have included RHS Wisley, Denmans, The Prairie Gardens, Parham House and Great Dixter.
Andy says ‘A huge thank you to the Rockery’s unsung heroes.’ And we second his appreciation.
That’s the veggie garden area near the Rotunda, also called the demo garden. We thought you’d like to know a bit more about the area and the volunteers that work it so we asked Caroline Whiteman, volunteer co-ordinators, a few questions:
Q. When and how did the garden start?
It started in March 2010 with just 4 raised beds and a few containers. The Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, which is a local non-profit registered charity, asked the council for permission to build a demo garden in the park as a flagship for their ‘Harvest’ project. The project was aimed to promote food growing in the city. Many local volunteers helped to build it and continue to maintain it.
Q. There have been changes to the garden, tell us more about that.
This year the garden has doubled in size so we’re able to demonstrate perennial planting. Fruit bushes, trees, vines and herbs have been included. And the larger area enables wheelchair access to allow involvement by those with limited mobility.
Q. Are there opportunities for new volunteers?
The popularity of the garden means that we’re currently not taking on new volunteers. However there are around 70 community growing projects in the city, many of which would welcome new volunteers. For more info contact email@example.com or visit www.bhfood.org.uk or call 01273 431700.
Q. Where does the Demo veggie garden fit in with the wider Brighton Food Partnership?
The partnership works on all aspects of food: helping people learn to cook, eat a healthy diet, grow their own food and waste less food. This garden is still the flagship project but it’s also a great way to start a conversation ￼￼about cooking, composting, volunteering or other fun food activities in which people can get involved around the city.