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Colour Palettes in the Park

Colour Palettes in the Park


Luscious and Lovely
This is a very self-indulgent blog for which I make no apologies. I have had so many messages from you all about how much you are enjoying the parks and particularly mentioning how well they are looking. And some of our very good photographers have sent me stunning images which my second-hand iPhone 6 cannot match.

.. is a phrase which has, recently, seemed to trip off several tongues and makes us all sound like experts.

The glorious wildflower meadows across both parks are wonderful, especially in June, when butterflies, bees, moths and dragonflies were abundant. The massive rainstorms have made them turn a little bit. They have been worked on for about seven or eight years to get them to where they are now. Congratulation to the staff who showed so much patience. It’s not just a case of scattering a packet of seeds apparently.

The Swale (off North Carriage Drive) has been so much written about that it deserves a pamphlet all of its own. But it has, with extra efforts, begun to look rather lovely and is full of water, surrounded by foliage, insect friendly planting and split chestnut paling to discourage the labradors from flinging themselves in (or rather gives the message to their walkers). After Monday’s floods I wonder how it coped.

Phil Newcombe, assistant manager in Hyde Park and horticulture maestro, has sent me some photos of his own starry bedding schemes and the colour palette becomes very clear.

Firstly by the Rose Garden, pinks, reds and purples reign and although the sky, when he took the photo, was the grey leaden covering which we got used to (and sick of) for the last month, you can see the strong colours.

The next one is the Jubilee bed by Fisherman’s Keep. I would say it’s on the Rotten Row side of the bridge which leads to the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen.

There’s a change of colour scheme and yellows, oranges and red rule with golden foliage. Staring closely, I can see a lot of the plants which were available for us to buy at the plant sale and so may well be doing nicely in your own gardens, sky the same depressing grey.

We move over to Kensington Gardens and look again at the North Flower Walk (NFW), which is another spot I have written about a great deal. But we have a lot of new members so apologies to those of you who already know the well covered subject.

NFW was (about four or five years ago) an area with a big antisocial behaviour problem. Because of this, it was almost off limits to anyone with small children or who wanted to sit and enjoy some quiet time.

A lot of work has gone into clearing undergrowth, simplifying and replanting beds and installing the wooden sculptures which Mission Invertebrate funded. So, a small child sitting on a giant male stag beetle holding a little paper plate with a slice of birthday cake, was a feast for the eye (and her tummy).

The wonderful cascading rambler roses at one of NFW entrances is looking glorious and welcoming.

Close by at the Italian Gardens, assistant manager, Russell Stevens, has gone for very vibrant colours in the formally planted area. He also has some pretty exotic bananas there amongst the bright red impatiens (Busy Lizzie). The banana leaves have had to withstand constant stair rod rainfall.

The planting round the cafe is relaxed, calm and plentiful.

Have all the masses of rain helped or hindered? Certainly, floods on Monday were dramatic but, they have enabled the parks to look as lush as ever, with dense greenery and grass.

‘Colour Palettes’ continued for our members at our most appreciated and looked forward to Event…

THE PLANT SALE (Hyde Park Super Nursery)

Tina Higginson is our trustee who organised the timed tickets and had the bright idea of charging £5 per person to donate straight to The Royal Parks charity. She also marshalled us into being her slaves for the day (not exactly arduous I have to admit) and supplied us all with a very nice picnic lunch. I made a pile of banana loaves as I cannot get out of the first lock down habit.

Mike was a very generous host, supplied the coffees and teas to keep us going, and also answered endless questions and was patient with everybody.
 Tina and Mike, in the background, working hard. Note the gigantic Buckingham Palace geraniums

Tina wrote to her fellow trustees: “Our last event for the time being was the plant sale at Hyde Park Nursery. I thought it would be a good idea to circulate the amount of money we raised through the Eventbrite ticket sales. We were able to control the numbers entering to 30 per hour throughout the day and not overcrowding the area.

Massive thanks to everybody who helped and especially to Mike and his staff who are so very generous in setting the whole thing up.

As a slave who didn’t have to do much on the day, I chatted to you all and observed that, despite my swearing to myself that my garden was full and I didn’t need any more plants, I found I had lined up rows of pots by the end of the day always, of course, to tie in with existing planting.

I was particularly impressed by the various ingenious means of transport many of you used to take plants away, but this will have to wait for another day. I really loved the careful selections you were all making, some small quantities for window boxes (sizes carefully measured in advance) and some large numbers for community garden squares, church gardens and a planted area in the centre of a block of flats. And one bold member who bought 16 Buckingham Palace geraniums to use as a border along his terrace. I wish I knew how he transported them.

We made £428.96 from ticket sales. Mike told us that plant sales made £1196.00 and so a total of: £1624.96 was raised for the TRP charity”.

BUTTERFLIES. (And a very bright moth)
Our second butterfly hunt had to be delayed by a week as the weather was a bit dubious. Butterflies and moths don’t like rain and wind…who does?

Luckily, everybody booked on the first date was able to come to the rearranged one. We were a full house and very pleased to have three experts this time. Dave Jordan, assistant park manager Hyde Park, whose idea this has been, helped by May who has joined the Mission Invertebrate team from the Butterfly Trust, and also this time, Ellie, who is working for the same trust and focusing on Butterflies in the city.

I’m sorry to say I can’t help being competitive and I did ask if on this basis Hyde Park would be considered a winner. She seemed pretty positive that it should make it. Ignoring the competition element (almost) Dave sent the following:
“We think the list below is a pretty accurate species list, fewer butterflies recorded than last week, but more invertebrates, including a show-stopping flying Stag Beetle (looks like a mini drone) that narrowly avoided predation by a Jay at the Hudson Memorial”

Sadly, I missed this as I had sprinted ahead to Rangers Lodge garden to pour out the glasses of refreshments and small things to eat.

But I did get told about it a lot…. Butterflies
Meadow Brown Speckled Wood  Red Admiral. Common Blue shown here

Burnet Companion
Cinnabar female laying eggs shown here

Male Stag Beetle (airborne)

Dragonflies and Damselflies
Emperor Dragonfly Common Blue Damselfly

Thanks to the Parks team for getting our two dates into the diary once again (we keep it to small numbers each time) and look forward to a repeat next year. We certainly missed it last year.

Moving away from plants and reaching out (as we do) to those of you who want to throw yourselves into some wild swimming, arrangements are now in place for the Lido to open to the public.

It has had to be very limited this year. With guidelines, rules and regs and a pretty old building with facilities which have been undergoing a degree of updating, it has taken time and effort to get things properly set up. It has never been the intention of the parks managers to stop swimming and the arrangements they have come up with, although not allowing large numbers as in normal times, are organised so that everybody through a booking system should be able to have swim.

The Lido will be open from 1st July to 5th September between 10am and 2pm. There will be pre-booked 45minute slots for up to 30 people lap swimming only. If some of you have difficulty booking online, it can be done in person at the Lido and you can call the ‘Will to Win’ Centre to book as well, but remember numbers are limited.

Unfortunately, this year there will be no availability to use the terrace and spend all day sunbathing on sun loungers. Colicci are using the Terrace for some periods as they cannot fit tables and chairs on the terraces at the water’s edge and allow for distancing.

Will we be back to normal next year? It would be lovely if that were the case and we can meet and talk, no masks, indoors if it’s raining (almost the only option for weeks on end this year). We are planning a couple of Parks based events for members in the Autumn and hope to see you at one of these.

Sue Price

Photography thanks to:
Rob Dowling
Phil Newcombe
Sue Price
Paul Shelley
Andrew Beverley (Plant sale)
Margaret Spector (Common blue butterfly)
Duncan & Annette Campbell (Female Cinnabar)

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