January in the park

The newly-laid hedge

You may remember this hedge was laid last Spring. There has always been a hedge here, as far back as records go. Without leaves, the structure of the hedge is clear to see.

Newly-planted elm

This picture shows one of the newly-planted trees in the park. In the background are other trees also recently planted.

New path in the Rock Garden

This path is in the process of being laid at the back of the Rock Garden.

The former Ladies Bowls Pavilion

Ladies Bowls Pavilion, Preston Park

A happy new year to you all!

Would you be interested in using this building? The former Ladies Bowls Pavilion, next to the Rotunda in Preston Park, has two good sized rooms and facilities. If so, please contact us on info@friendsofprestonpark.org with brief details of what it is you would use the building for and a phone number.

Upcoming events at Preston Manor

Preston Manor

Hidden House: Behind the Scenes at Preston Manor
9 December 11am-12.30pm, Friday 27 January 11am-12.30pm, Wednesday 15 February 11am-12.30pm & 2-3.30pm, Thursdays 15 March and 12 April 11am-12.30pm & 2-3.30pm
£10.50, members £8.50, includes admission, book in advance
Discover Preston Manor’s hidden history. Go behind the door marked ‘private’ and see parts of the house off the public route. Tea and biscuits included.

An Edwardian Christmas
Saturday 10 December
11am-1.30pm £11, members £9.50 includes coffee and cake
An illustrated talk exploring how the Edwardians celebrated Christmas, set in the comfort of this Edwardian house. Learn about jolly festive customs, traditions and gift ideas, and enjoy seasonal readings.

The Victorian Séance
Fridays 3 February, 9 March, 13 April
8-9pm £12.50, members £10.50
In November 1896 a séance was held at Preston Manor. Séances became the ultimate fashionable Victorian after-dinner entertainment. This new event looks at what séances were and why they thrilled their audiences.

What a year for the Rock Garden

The following report was sent to us by Andy Jeavons, Garden Manager:

The last year at the rock garden has been a bit of a whirlwind and has seen some monumental changes within the garden.  Some of the changes are fairly small and insignificant such as the fact that the Yew hedge in front of the chalet has been reduced to the same size all over … the old “twin peaks” have been removed.  The litter bins have now gone with no increase on litter and all the benches have now been sanded down and given a coat or two of paint. A new watering point has been added so I can actually water the plants I grow too.

The beds and screes on the front grass have been “mulched” with purple slate chippings which show off the plants and grass very effectively and also help to surpress weeds.  The bridge has had a makeover and we have a super new set of steps to the right of the chalet.

The on-going waterfall situation is this.  We started to put out the feelers to get the pump working again back in January. With every step we took going forward, we seemed to take three backwards with the problems it incurred. The pump was fixed and then the pump house was deemed structually unsafe. This was fixed back in the early autumn and a new roof and floor constructed.

We’re now at the point of getting an electric supply to the pump house … a task far bigger than we ever thought. However, the conduit for the cable is now in and all we’re waiting for is the electric company to put the cable in, add a electric meter, wire up the internal pump house bits and hey presto!!! We are moving in the right direction and now we feel we’re taking 1 step backwards and 3 steps forwards.  As soon as I have any more news, I’ll let you know. Watch this space for a grand “switching on” of the pump in the spring.

You may have also noticed that there has been a lot of the mature shrubbery has been completely removed. We felt that the plants that were there had really outgrown their welcome and were looking tired. The whole area on the bank either side up to the bridge is now completely bare. I have taken several trips to RHS Wisley this summer to admire their stunning herbaceous borders and to get ideas. As a result, we have approx 1,000 mid-to-late summer flowering herbaceous perennials, grasses and small shrubs and trees. The idea is that we plant the beds up to give us large drifts of colours … purples, yellows, oranges, reds, whites, blues, plus some foliage too. This, in my opinion, will be jaw-droppingly stunning and will create a riot of summer colour … something that has been missing in the past.

We’ve also planted 5,000 bulbs consisting of 1,200 dwarf tulips (12 varieties, 100 of each variety), 1,000 crocuses, 1,000 narcissi, 500 dutch iris, 500 reticulated iris, 200 autumn flowering cyclamen  and 600 muscari. This will hopefully be part of an on-going bulb planting programme.

The chalk bank
The chalk bank

You may have also noticed the chalk area under the large beech trees near the southern entrance. Approx 12″ of the top soil was removed and replaced with solid chalk.  This has now been planted up with native chalkland wild flowers such as pink and white campion, bird’s foot trefoil and small scabious. This will form a part of City Parks’ plan to increase the diversity of flora and fauna within its green spaces and hopefully attract many different species of wildlife.

The team of volunteers at work

Lastly, I’d like to give a huge thank you to everyone who’s been involved with the development of the garden.  In particular, my volunteers (Trixie, Anastasia, Sue, Charlotte and Jaqui), the community payback team, Amex for the superb “community” day, Green Gym, Garry Meyer (Park ranger) and last but not least, my manager Graeme Rolf for making all this happen.

Profile of Charlotte Reynolds

Charlotte Reynolds
One of Charlotte's volunteering colleagues, Trixie, mentioned that it is a pleasure to have a young person on the team who is intending to make horticulture her profession.

Charlotte is a volunteer gardener at the Rock Garden.

Why have you decided to be a volunteer gardener?
To gain experience for the horticulture course I’m studying at Stanmer Park.

What is it you enjoy about the work?
Andy [Jeavons, Head Gardener at the Rock Garden] is a really good gardener, very knowledgeable, and I’m learning a lot from him. I also enjoy doing something different every week.

What is it you’re doing in the Rock Garden at the moment?
We’re redeveloping the woodland area at the back – getting it all cleared and planted up. We’re also building a ‘dead hedge’ that is, making a wooden, woven frame which has shrubs planted in between which will encourage wildlife.

What are your ambitions for the Rock Garden?
I’d like to see more events being held in the Rock Garden – it tends to get forgotten about. The garden is, and will be more so in the future, a really good place to see a great many different types of plants growing.

Profile of Garry Meyer

Garry Meyer

Garry Meyer is Ranger for Dyke Road Park and Bevendean Downs Nature Reserve as well as Preston Park.

He has been a Ranger for four years and a Ranger for Preston Park for just over a year. He was a member of the grounds maintenance team in Preston Park so knows the park very well.

What do you like about the job?
I like working with community groups – like the Friends of Preston Park! I like being out and about and feeling like I’m making an impact.

What contributions have you made to the park?
I was instrumental in forming the Friends of Preston Park and I’ve organised a number of activities in the park. I’ve wanted to be a Ranger for Preston Park for a while. The park is a huge focal point and facility for the city. Everyone knows Preston Park – most people in the city will have used the park at some point. I feel a sense of pride and prestige at being a Ranger for the park.

What’s the best thing about the park?
Well, it’s so well-used and so well maintained. And more than any other park in the city there’s something going on from early in the morning to late in the evening – it’s so popular. A fantastic green space used by so many people, all getting enjoyment from it.

What are your ambitions for the park?
I’d like to see a lot more information in the park about its history and facilities. Perhaps it could be collated and designed by a local school in conjunction with the Friends group and Brighton and Hove City Council? There are lots of things about the park that people aren’t necessarily aware of: plants, trees, buildings. I think if people know more, they can enjoy it more.

Thank you Garry!

Halloween lantern walk

Halloween Lantern Walk

Bring along your own home-made lantern and we’ll take an evening walk around the park to show it off and banish those ogres and witches.

If you want, you can come in fancy dress. We’ll give a prize for the best lantern and a prize for the best fancy dress.

Meet at the Ladies Bowls pavilion (next to the Rotunda) in Preston Park. We’ll provide light refreshments, hot drinks and activities.

If you can, let us know beforehand that you want to come using our contact form or by emailing us at info@friendsofprestonpark.org.