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.