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.

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.

Successful Tree Planting Event

As part of #NationalTreeWeek volunteers recently attended a @BromleyGreenGym event in College Green #Bromley, to plant thirty native tree saplings, as well as a couple of fruit trees. It was sunny and dry, and so with their help all scheduled tasks to were duly completed.

Family to the ready
Volunteers planting saplings

Also volunteers prepared the ground for a new improved willow dome, which will be completed in the next few weeks.

Digging up turf for new willow dome

Afterwards the volunteers were able to celebrate all their efforts over a hot drink and biscuits. Everybody mentioned what a good time they had.

The saplings were provided by Mayor of London, and the fruit trees were bought by Bromley Green Gym themselves.

Bromley Green Gym, who help maintain this park, run sessions in College Green, College Road BR1 1PA – every Friday 11am-2pm and welcome anybody to turn up and take part.

Churchill Quarter: Public Consultation

Consultation notice

Please attend later this week & have your say on this high density multi-storey building development in town centre, right next to Library Gardens. Let us know your comments on these plans.

We remain opposed to this development, in its current form with up to 14 storeys (i.e. higher than Bromley Central Library), because of its impact on the adjacent public green spaces. To see more  please go to our Library Gardens campaign page.

Parks parliamentary report issued

Flower bed in Church House Gardens

A parliamentary committee enquiring into the status of public parks in England has now issued its report. It recognises the importance of our parks and that they are at a critical point due to financial and planning pressures.

A few selected comments from the report are given below –

“They provide opportunities for leisure, relaxation and exercise, but are also fundamental to community cohesion, physical and mental health and wellbeing, biodiversity, climate change mitigation, and local economic growth.”

“However parks are at a tipping point, and failure to match their value and the contribution they make with the resources they need to be sustained could have severe consequences.”

“Planning policy, particularly as a result of pressures to increase housing supply, may not always give enough priority to parks and green spaces, or to other elements of our green infrastructure.”

The full report can be found HERE

People support parks.

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Campaigners rallying against development

Last week over 150,000 people have taken part in a consultation, organised by campaigning group 38 Degrees, on how we use our parks – and why we love them – and over 260,000 have signed a petition calling for our parks to be protected.

In the next few weeks the committee of MPs looking into the problems facing our parks will read through these responses, and come up with recommendations for what to do next. Thanks to this, they’ll be under no illusion that people across the UK care about our parks and green spaces.

You can see a full copy of the report online.

In addition we have sent a submission directly to the parliamentary committee, outlining our opinions on the importance of our public parks and their benefits. At present local councils do not have a statutory obligation to provide them! A situation a national campaign is endeavouring to change.