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Summer News

Summer News

These few Summer months have been like the curate’s egg “good in parts”.

It’s the middle of August already, noticeably darker in the evenings and mornings, but our parks are looking luscious with all the rain we’ve had.

Music and Dancing in the Park

Don’t forget that the concerts return to the bandstand in Hyde Park. They are designed to set you dancing if you wish.

On Saturday 19th August, Orqesta Mambarito, with their star singer Victor Marchangioli, performed their smooth Latin American Music.
Thanks to funding from the volunteers at the Information kiosk at Hyde Park Corner.

Many ‘Friends’ members attended, some admiring from comfy seats, others taking part in the dancing. The rhythmic music reverberated around the Park virtually inviting all to come along and see what was happening. Much spontaneous fun was had by all.

Click on the link below to view everyone enjoying the music and joining in the dancing at the Bandstand on Saturday:

Latin American Dancing at The Hyde Park Bandstand

Snowdown Colliery Welfare Band will make an exciting sound from their massed ranks of brass players, on Sunday 3rd September from 2.30 to 4.30 pm.

Traditional and modern arrangements will take us back to where the bandstand concerts were first performed in our parks on these spectacular listed structures.
Thanks to member Carl Richardson for funding this concert.

We’ll really swing into action at our third and final concert, on Sunday 10th September from 2 to 4.30 pm, with the South London Jazz Orchestra and swing dance teacher, Simon Selmon. He’ll show us the steps from 2pm onwards,.
Thanks to the Marble Arch BID team for funding this concert. It’s a generous gift to our community.

We can enjoy all the concerts listed, either by joining in or relaxing on a chair, which will be set up for you. Bring a picnic or choose an ice cream from the van which will be parked there.

No need to book, the concerts are free for everyone to enjoy and suitable for all the family.

Thanks too, to:
1) Benugo for supplying snacks and drinks to the volunteers who are helping arrange these concerts, and a generous discount to performers.
2) Colicci for supplying bottled water to our performers.
3) Nick Kwabi of Park Chairs for supplying and transporting enough chairs for everybody.

Thanks to all the hard-working volunteers and trustees for the administration, both before and on the days of these concerts.

Thanks to Jessica Nelson (Parks Events Officer) for her help, and the staff of Hyde Park who all play a part in making these days go with a swing.

Spend, Spend, Spend! The Royal Parks has opened their first shop and it’s in Hyde Park at the boathouse. It opened in mid-June and is full of attractive park and natural world associated merchandise. Do pop in to have a browse if you’re passing and, to encourage you, members are offered 10% discount on showing their membership card.

Tea for two? Or coffee for more?

The lovely 2023 Serpentine Summer pavilion was visited by trustee Will Gray, who writes about it here, and was photographed by our Accredited photographer, Paul Shelley.

The 2023 Serpentine Pavilion, designed by French Lebanese architect Lina Ghotmeh, is open until 29th October and is well worth a visit. It looks fairly understated from the outside and is not a building that shouts for attention. But, up close, the quality of the craftsmanship and materials become more apparent, and the interior is beautiful. The roof is pleated wood and appears almost vaulted with a central oculus giving light from above. More light comes in through the fretwork panels between the upright columns.

I went there on a beautiful sunny July day, where the interior was a lovely shaded calm space with a gentle breeze drifting though the side panels. It was like stepping from Mediterranean heat into a cool shaded chapel. Perfect on a hot day.

It also made a nice change, that the commercial (catering) use for the pavilion seemed to have been rather better thought through than in many previous years and were very understated and subtle.

Lina Ghotmeh said her intention was to “creat(e) a convivial canopy that invites visitors to sit, eat, and think”. I think she has done this splendidly and has even designed the tables and stools inside – available in a limited edition from Conran this autumn.
Will Gray

Glorious Planting

The formal beds have been a riot of colour this year, helped by the copious rainfall, some warmth early on and now, perhaps, some more late summer sun.

The head gardeners have shown what can be done with their increased staff levels plus apprentice and volunteer input. Our photographer has been busy.

The Hyde Park bedding has themes which are reflected in the colours and planting. There’s an apprentice bed with (I think) a jewel-coloured theme, sun- glasses are called for and, by contrast, look at this year’s black and white beds close to the Rose Garden in Hyde Park. They are slightly different to last year (which I called Marmite) and, once again, include plenty of very interesting plants.

In Kensington Gardens, the Mediterranean planting and redesign at the Italian Gardens is coming along well but will look better later on, Head Gardener Russell tells us.

At Victoria Gate, the planting looks very different with plants telling a story and an explanation board should, by now, be in place. Plants to dye for is one story. There are others and more will follow. Watch this area, as it is the most changed in my view.

More Music on its Way

Not so little brother or sister bandstand in Kensington Gardens currently shrouded in tarpaulin. It will be unveiled in September, following an extensive refurbishment, and a return to being a functioning concert platform is keenly anticipated.

It will comply with modern safety requirements, and have proper railings and an improved surrounding area. Although it doesn’t have power, we hope that some music might be able to be enjoyed in this new (to us) location.

Flowers for Theresa

I represented the Friends of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens at Theresa Short’s funeral in late July. Theresa was the loved and much missed Assistant Manager of Kensington Gardens, and she had spent all her working life (30 years) with the Royal Parks. Our photographer came with me as he had taken so many portraits of her amongst her plants, in a place where she was happiest. We were able to give her sisters copies of our newsletters which she had either featured in, or had written for.

Long Summer Days Several Friends’ events made these great fun this year:

Our boating evening, thanks to manager Tom Kiddey, was really very enjoyable with the choice of rowing, pedalo leg-work, or relaxed in an electric-powered launch. Everybody who knows me, will have realised that I have been running a small campaign to increase the popularity, or at least knowledge, of rowing a dinghy. I admit defeat. When it came to it, almost nobody chose to row a boat, although they are nice new craft and very comfortable.

The sun shone, it was warm and rather breezy, I could have rowed straight over a coot’s nest but oar feathering hadn’t left me and the coot survived. It was surprising how many members on the evening were determined to recreate childhood seaside holidays. Smoked salmon sandwiches, hot sausage-rolls and Pimm’s helped us no end, and many thanks go to Tom and his team.


Plants flew off the shelves again at the Nursery plant sale in early July. Once again, the means of getting the plants home was ingenious. The selection was better than ever. We were all determined to be self-controlled and highly selective, but mostly failed. The longest distance travelled by a member? Bristol!

The strangest method of transport of plants? A shopping trolly shared with a very aged dog, two others being kicked out and made to walk home.

The takings? All to the Royal Parks charity, and a record at approx. £1700 + for the day. Many thanks to our great friend and supporter, Nursery Manager Rob Dowling.


Our AGM on the 19th July was another wonderful warm evening. The LookOut was the perfect venue. Thanks to manager, Graham Alderton for inviting us. There were about 70 guests and members and the presentations, which focussed on wonderful images, were enjoyable. The Q&A session was lively, with some unusual points of view being made. (No traffic anywhere in the park on any roads at all) and an ingenious way of being rid of less than welcome park users…bombing cannabis smokers with artificial rain clouds from above.

After this, we adjourned to the deck outside for drinks and a lot of mingling. Our photographer was busy, and we have a great picture collection from the evening.


Hold the date – A private view of Kensington Palace, when the Palace is not open to the Public, for the Friends’ members and guests, on Monday 23rd October at 10am, and a look at the exhibition, ‘Crown to Couture’. Followed by a late, light breakfast, we will hear from the director of palaces, Justine Locker, about the progress of all the restoration work to the buildings and gardens.

Look out in early September, for the Eventbrite invitation to book tickets for this very special limited numbers visit.

A sorry day for Serpentine swimmers

All of you who love a cold swim, shared with geese and swans, have had to hold off for (hopefully) a short while until the water quality improves.

From the 11th August, swimming has been suspended as algal bloom has developed in both the Serpentine Lido and the Long Water. Some of this is the highly toxic variety of blue green algae, of which there are high levels. Dogs are at risk as well so keep them clear.

Swimming will recommence when the water is safe.

PS I’ve heard from many members recently. Some with problems, which I can only pass on to members of staff. In some cases, I can help by asking questions on your behalf.

Unfortunately, there is not often an easy answer to solve all problems. The Parks are complicated places with plenty of fine balances between all the needs, wishes and requirements of the different and widely varied park visitors. Everybody who works in the Parks loves these glorious spaces, and they always want to do the best they can to keep them as wonderful as possible for us all. Sometimes, not all problems are easily dealt with and an ideal outcome for everybody, not always possible. But everyone, including our Trustees, are trying their best.

Can we look forward to a glorious Indian summer this year? Can I look forward to seeing lots of you at our September concerts? I do hope so.

Sue Price
August 22nd.

Sue Price
Friends of Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens
Old Police House, Hyde Park, London W2 2UH

Simon Cox
Rob Dowling
Lynden Easton
Nicola Mc’Farland
Sue Price
Paul Shelley