This autumn the Bushy Park car park planting was redesigned, introducing a range of plants specially selected for their ability to survive in an area that gets extremely hot in summer and battered by winter winds when the seasons change. Head Gardener Sharon Evans reveals the inspiration behind the garden and how it came to life with a little help from the Friends.
A while ago I visited the garden of acclaimed British film director Derek Jarman in Dungeness. Sitting on a rocky, windswept coastline looking out over the English Channel, I was struck by how many of the plants had continued to thrive despite being exposed to the elements all year round. I took note and returned to Bushy Park with an idea for a new planting design for the car park beginning to form.
On 30th October 2021 that idea became a reality, as the Friends of Bushy and Home Park and I finished bedding in a selection of plants that will grow successfully in such a harsh environment. While areas like the Woodland Gardens offer fantastic growing conditions, the car park is an open space including gravel and tarmac, which reflects the heat, with no protection from the sun or westerly winds. To survive the plants need to be hardy and durable.
The planting was the result of a longer process to prepare the area. The team spent a month stripping the existing plants and relocating them, digging over the beds thoroughly before forking in several tons of our own Bushy Park compost to raise their height and improve the soil condition ready for the new arrivals. The funding for the plants was generously supplied by The Teddington Society and the Friends. After a hard day of planting we were really pleased with the results.
Latest conservation work in the Woodland Gardens
In the Woodland Gardens the team have been continuing the work started by the team of Royal Parks staff who spent the day planting up the scented glade and creating a dead hedge in the native wood to the north of the Waterhouse plantation in October. We've made great progress taking the plants from the nursery and adding them to the glade.
This autumn we also welcomed the first group of conservation volunteers to the garden, where they continued the work on the dead hedge in the native wood. Dead hedges are a way of protecting vulnerable areas from visitors by cutting down invasive, unwanted vegetation and creating a hedgerow with the material removed. It also provides a habitat for small animals and safe nesting areas for birds.
The volunteers have been working hard behind the scenes, removing self-seeded buddleia as it is a non-native invasive plant that has started spreading rapidly. Another team of volunteers have been clearing the banks of the stream in birch glade to reveal the mature ornamental plants. A dead hedge will be created behind these plants too, in addition to clearings, as this is a favourite area for grass snakes to bathe in the sun in early summer.
It's been a fantastic team effort so far and it's great working with a variety of people who all appreciate the park. There's a lot more to come!