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”.
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.
And the fruit trees were just coming into bloom, hopefully promising a good harvest later in the year.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is that time of the year when our parks become really colourful. Whether maple, beech or in this case Gingko the trees turn various shades of brown, red or yellow all too briefly and then shed their leaves as they prepare for winter. In that short time they cheer us up a little, whether sunny or overcast.
Filming for a new television series was taking place in Church House Gardens on Sunday. This is understood to be for an upcoming light-hearted comedy pilot. Our town centre parks are no stranger to being used for such activities, as their very variety provides many interesting opportunities.
While it is great to see responsible dog owners walking their pets in nearly all of our parks, there are some areas in which dogs, other than assistance dogs, are unwelcome. This is to ensure that in these ‘dog free’ areas wildlife, along with people, especially young children, can remain safe. For example children can get an infection from dog waste left on the grass that they play on.
Such ‘dog free’ areas are; Church House Gardens (part) and Queens Garden. The entrances to these areas are clearly marked (as in above image). Sadly in a very few cases irresponsible dog owners ignore such restrictions and deliberately take their dogs into these areas. So doing they risk the well being of children and other park users and a possible £80 fine.
If you come across any such a miscreant, please call Bromley Council Enforcement on 0208 313 4870, or Ward Security on 0845 476180
Sadly an example of the misuse of a good new idea by a few anti-social people. Somebody has thrown an e-bike into the River Ravensbourne at the Mill Pond, in Glassmill Lane. This follows another e-bike that was dumped into the lake in Church House Gardens about the same time, but was later removed by the idVerde parks maintenance team.
The Lime e-bikes have been introduced into Bromley town centre about a week ago. Let us hope that such events do not sour this scheme.
With the recent record high winter temperatures the natural world could be forgiven for believing that Spring has arrived, as shown in above image? Just twelve months after the ‘Beast from the East” snow showers, we have been more than 20 deg C higher! Hopefully not all will be lost when the cold weather returns. The crocuses, daffodils,snowdrops & snowbells beneath the steps in Church House Gardens are so beautiful. The Egyptian geese pair are almost certainly preparing to nest here this year, and two Mallard pairs already have a nests.
Friends members cleared the water, mud and stones out of the pond, with some help from the local idVerde team. In doing so they chad carefully relocated some six smooth newts found in the mud. A small but long crack was identified as the reason for the slow leak in this pond. This and other cracks would be repaired as soon as possible; and then refilling and restocking with suitable plants to make it attractive again for frogs, newts, etc.
This concrete lined pond is found, where the entrance hall of the former Church House was located. This building was very badly damaged by bombs in 1941. Only the faintest outline of this building can still be found on the ground.