Green Flag award

People enjoying Queens Gardens in happier times

For a third year running Queens Gardens has been awarded a prestigious Green Flag award. This reflects the continuing very high standard of this much valued public park, achieved as a result of the maintenance of this space by the parks contractor idVerde. This has been achieved despite the furloughing of many staff members during the height of the coronavirus lockdown. Seven other public green spaces across the borough also gained awards.

Queens Gardens is an important public green space located between The Glades shopping centre and Kentish Way. It therefore provides a welcome restful oasis from the much busier places adjacent. This is especially true in the current pandemic. You can find out more about this park HERE

The Green Flag Award® scheme recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

greenflagaward.org.uk/about-us/

Queens Garden looking great

This flower bed in Queens Garden, previously the “Darwin Bed”, is looking very good at the moment. It includes various plants, including several attractive grasses, from around the world. This was replanted, by idVerde staff, a couple of years ago to replace the earlier flower scheme which had been part of Bromley council’s iff-fated application for World Heritage status for the Downe area associated with Charles Darwin.

With the other flower beds in the garden currently still awaiting the summer bedding to be planted, this is the main flower display in this park. We hope soon see their contributions to the beauty of this well loved space.

Perhaps with the gradual easing of coronavirus restrictions it will not be too long before the customers of Cafe Giardino will be able to gaze down upon this attractive scene. However in the meantime we can all enjoy this, and the rest of this garden’s attractions, from ground level.

Trees……..

Horse Chestnuts, Martins Hill

It is great to see the trees back in full leaf, as nature carries on regardless. One of the earliest such trees is the Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). They are now in full blossom. It pays to look closely at its delicate colours.

Horse Chesnut in blossom

Most famous for their seeds, much used in the past by small boys to play the game of “conkers ”.

Other uses of the conkers include horse medicines, as additives in shampoos, and as a starch substitute. Chemicals extracted from conkers can be used to treat strains and bruises. There’s hearsay that if you place conkers around your house it will keep spiders away, but there’s no scientific proof that this is the case.

The Victorians wrote recipes for making conker flour. The seeds were shelled, ground and then leached to remove bitter flavours. It’s not a common practise these days and if consumed in excessive quantities conkers are mildly poisonous. (Woodland Trust)

Feeding the Birds

Kari feeding the birds, Church House Gardens

Every morning, soon as the gates are opened, our committee member Kari visits Church House Gardens to feed the birds. She always gives them suitable healthy food such as grain and other seeds, rather than unhealthy bits of bread that many people unfortunately do. She has become very well known to these inhabitants, both large and small. In these difficult times it is great that people are still thinking about our non-human “park users”.

Carrying On

In these difficult times, where most of us are correctly staying at home for most of the day, there are many people continuing to work to keep #Bromley Town Centre going. Among these are the #idVerde staff still busy maintaining our parks, so that we can enjoy them while on our daily exercise walk, as well as in the future when we are able to move around freely again.

Bob with his ride-on mower

Several of the maintenance team were present in Queens Garden yesterday. They were either weeding the formal flower beds, for which this park is well known, or mowing the grass as it starts to regrow again.

Neil clearing up litter

Elsewhere, despite possibly lower density of people visiting parks, the litter bins need clearing and other rubbish picked up regularly so that they still look at their best.

So if you spot any of the parks maintenance team on your walks in our local parks, please give them a small word of thanks for their efforts. I know that they will appreciate it.

Town Centre Parks are looking beautiful

Early on a wonderful Sunday morning I decided it would be great to visit some of our town centre parks, in order to raise my spirits. I first visited College Green our newest park, just up the road from Sainsbury and behind Bromley College a Grade 1 listed building. This small park is maintained by volunteers of Bromley Green Gym. The daffodils of various sizes were looking magnificent.

Daffodils on College Green

And the fruit trees were just coming into bloom, hopefully promising a good harvest later in the year.

Fruit tree in blossom

In the circular Mulberry Bed I came across a Rosemary in full flower. This herb has been celebrated, for many centuries in folklore, with remembrance. In Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’; Orphelia states “ “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.” It is also good for cooking as well!

Rosemary in flower

Then a short walk to our next park, Queens Garden. Once upon a time this was White Hart Field, associated with the inn of the same name, where stage-coach horses would then rest and graze. Later a cricket field, frequented by H.G.Wells’ father, it is now a much appreciated park right next to The Glades shopping centre.

Queens Garden, from Kentish Way entrance

This was a chance, with very little traffic noise from the nearby dual carriageway, to hear the robins, blackbirds, etc announcing themselves. The formal flower beds, for which this park is especially appreciated by visitors, were looking excellent. In the former Darwin flower bed, which was replanted last year, I spotted this small tree in flower.

Tree located in former Darwin flowerbed

A short walk through the still closed shopping centre and deserted High Street brought me to Library Gardens, with scaffolding still around the Churchill Theatre, and into Church House Gardens. Where I spotted this lovely Camelia next to the lake.

Camellia in flower

The nearby ducks and geese were going along with their lives, perhaps waiting for people to feed them, and up to the upper gardens. There I came upon the gazebo with the magnolia close by.

Then across to Martins Hill, and yet more daffodils planted previously by Friends’ volunteers to celebrate the Marie Curie charity whose emblem this plant is.

‘Field of Hope’, Martins Hill

A quick walk along the top of the park, with many lovely bare trees resplendent in the morning light and fine views across the valley towards Beckenham and beyond.

Bare trees, Martins Hill

And so home to a well earned hot drink. Our parks while always important for our physical and mental wellbeing are especially critical in these worrying times. So please visit your park, but remember to adopt ‘social distancing’ and respect the health of other park users you come across.

New Life….

With the long days, spring is finally on its way, and nature is responding. Just one example of this is some frog spawn spotted in the lake in Church House Gardens.

Frog spawn in Lake
Photo by Kari Silvester

This frog spawn was moved here by one of the idVerde park workers, as he originally found it in a large puddle nearby which he realised would soon dry out and so the eggs would die. So as a lover of nature, he moved it carefully to this nearby safer spot. Well done him! Let’s hope that at least some of these become adult frogs in due course.

Queens Garden: Your comments wanted

People enjoying warm day in Queens Garden

Queens Garden is a popular town centre park which for two years running has been awarded a Green Flag, a national award marking its quality. We are now looking for your comments on this park especially what you most enjoy about it. Your comments will help inform the ongoing management plan for this site.

Welcoming a New Year

With the passing of the old year, and the start of another it seemed appropriate to celebrate New Years Day with a walk around all seven of our town centre parks. A hardy few turned up, despite the gloomy weather, to work off any results of the Christmas festivities and to enjoy the open spaces of our parks. On our walk we encountered only a few other park users, either walking their dogs or jogging. Otherwise we had the parks to ourselves. Some overflowing waste bins, and remains of spent fireworks on Martins Hill provided evidence of previous celebrations.

After walking through Church House Gardens we passed by the Mill Pond and the Ravensbourne feeding it, now back to its usual flow of water, a couple of visiting cormorants were sighted as well as two resident Egyptian geese who landed in nearby lake. Also spotted were a large number of golf balls isolated on the now bare mud bank. Occasionally passing members of the public have thought of these as small ‘eggs’! These have in fact floated downstream, probably from a local golf club or driving range.

Golf balls deposited on mud bank

After visiting several other parks, and finding them in ‘good order’, we finally arrived at Bromley Palace Park (aka Civic Centre Grounds) where we initially had a setback when we discovered that the gates at the Rafford Way entrance were locked.

Locked gates, Rafford Way

Undeterred by this we instead managed to gain access to the park via the main entrance, where the automatic doors opened as usual. Needless to say we had the site to ourselves. We visited the listed features including the Ice House and the Pulhamite Cascade which we are campaigning to be restored. We duly took a photo, in front of the listed former Palace building, to celebrate our visit.

We normally end our park walks with refreshments in the on site canteen. But as it was inevitably closed we decided to call it a day and make our ways home, wondering what opportunities and challenges our Friends group would encounter in 2020.