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Love Parks Week

Date: 13 July 2021
Author: Councillor Martin Elengorn
Title: Vice-Chair of the Environment, Sustainability, Culture and Sports Committee

We are unusually blessed in this borough to have two large historic Royal Parks, both designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, containing not only deer, rabbits, owls, geese, swans, and ducks but a range of invertebrates, veteran trees and acid grassland.

We also have a very large number of Council-owned green spaces, including nature reserves, informal and formal parks, playgrounds, gardens, planters, street trees and more. Every day there is something new to notice, admire and study.

I live halfway between Bushy Park and the town centre of Teddington and although the former is uncommonly rich in natural wonders, my walk into town in the opposite direction takes me past large horse chestnut trees, and flourishing new black walnut and hackberry trees. Around the green triangle by the Police Station is an old low wall popular with generations of small children to walk along and adjacent to it an old pear tree left over from a pre-war orchard. Both green and wall have a protective designation as 'Other Open Land of Townscape Importance' and 'Building of Townscape Merit' respectively.

Then we get to the Causeway planter which replaced a bleak bit of highway. It is in two halves, divided by a path and seats. Each half contains a catalpa, the Indian Bean tree. One of these struggles to grow a little each year whereas the other is vigorous to such an excess that it fell over under its own weight a few years ago and had to be regrown from its base. It flowers in late summer (illustrated below). The rest of the planter contains dry garden species reflecting the belief in the 1990s that climate change meant every summer would be hot and dry. It's more complicated than that and a few other species have now been added such as day lilies which flower in July (also illustrated below).

The other side of the railway contains both the Jubilee Gardens from 1977 and the Elmfield House Gardens from 1990 (also replacing highway) containing a range of spring bulbs, herbaceous plants and a hedge of Rosa rugosa. Blue agapanthus is about to flower.

Now all this leads me to 'Love Parks Week'. How much less enjoyable would be the daily experience of all these wonders if spoiled by idly dropped litter, dog mess and bottles. Sadly, this is a seasonal problem in some of our parks and makes the experience poorer. Please don't take litter to our parks and garden - but if you must, please ensure you take everything home or use the bins provided if necessary.

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Updated: 19 October 2021