The irrigation system in the Woodland Gardens was antiquated and unreliable. Park Manager Phil Edwards explains the recent work that will provide water year round for the woodland, help the newly sewn grass seed and allow for replanting ahead of autumn.
When I started in my role at Bushy Park the irrigation system for the Woodland Gardens was high on my list of things to take a look at. It was an old system that had stopped working properly many years ago, not ideal for one of the most popular and picturesque areas of the park.
Once the pandemic hit we had to postpone all but the most essential work around the parks. The initial plans for a completely new system were put on hold and I feared we would have to wait quite a while before getting anything done.
Enter Norman Clarke. Norman happened to be working with a colleague over at Richmond and agreed to stop by and have a look. He’s worked in Regents Park, Richmond Park, Kensington Palace and some of the best golf courses in the UK to name a few – what he doesn’t know about irrigation you could fit on a 25mm saddle clamp.
The location of the woodlands and the distance from utility sources made any solution a challenge. Undeterred, Norman and colleague Mick spent the day in the undergrowth. When I asked how it went, Norman scratched his head, took a deep breath and said he needed a couple of days to look for parts.
A week later Norman and Mick spent the day in the pump house. Again we caught up at the end of the day and I was hoping to get some good news. Again Norman paused, scratched his head and took a deep breath…then gave me a wink and a sly smile. It looked like the old system was salvageable. With winter approaching, we agreed he would return in spring.
In early April Norman and Mick spent the week resurrecting the pump, pipes, valves and electrics and on the 6th May the sprinklers jumped into action – all fed off the stream. I can’t describe how happy I was, and would like to apologise to anyone whose quiet stroll was disturbed by a ginger kiwi jumping up and down screaming for joy!
We still have much more to do, repairing broken junctions, installing better manhole covers, tracing the whole system and getting it working again in the Pheasantry. But it’s happening, and we now have water in the Waterhouse Gardens area of the woodland, which means we can water the newly-sown grass seed, repair the heavily worn areas that we have suffered from over the past year, and even allow Head Gardener Sharon and the team to start replanting soon rather than wait till the autumn.
A huge thank you to Norman and Mick for their hard work. It meant we could continue to improve the park during the pandemic and at a fraction of the original cost. I can’t wait to see our plans for the Woodland Gardens continue springing to life in the coming months and years.
The Waterhouse, a tranquil (usually!) area of the Woodland Gardens, now once again supplying water to the surrounding trees and plants.