The shrubberies at the northern and southern perimeters have been heavily cut back. These shrubberies have been neglected for so long that the more thuggish of the shrubs particularly the Prunus laurocerasus have grown strongly at the expense of many of the more delicate shrubs. It may look a little bare at the moment, but the smaller shrubs will regenerate and in the patches where nothing survived it is hoped Camden will find the funds to “gap up”. A couple of side effects of the opening up of the shrubberies: park users can once again see Marx’s tomb from the park, but also the more open terrain has brought finches back to the area – including greenfinches and siskins -- who enjoy more open territory. More park users too are beginning to use the upper pathway as it’s not so gloomy as it once was.
Before and after
The head gardener and his team have cleared the Victorian cascade, south of the bridge between the middle and lower ponds. It was once a celebrated part of the park which was even used for post cards. This has now been planted with water marginal plants.
Camden has instigated the planting of Fritillaria bulbs along a boggy stretch descending from the Waterlow statue path down to the middle pond. These have pretty chequerboard flowers which hopefully, if they’re not crushed by foot and paw, will be worth looking out for in May.
Just opposite the aviary is a much neglected bed which had been planted with rhododendrons and other acid loving shrubs. As with the perimeter shrubberies, it had been long neglected and in a park survey the Friends conducted last year several people mentioned how they missed the flowers in the early spring. This has now been rectified and the gardeners have planted a range of ericaceous shrubs from Erica to Pieris and camelias which together, once they’ve matured, should provide attractive blooms for most of the year.
Highgate High Street entrance
Camden agreed with FOWP this this entrance was a little bleak. As a result the Fuschia hedging has been extended with Griselinia. Once the hedging has taken hold it is hoped an understory can be planted below the shrubs that have become trees. Ivy has been planted along another side of the triangle eventually to fringe the rocks edging two sides.
Many park users may have noticed a drift of bulbs poking their heads up at the lower Swain’s Lane gate. Thousands of daffodil bulbs were planted in late November and the should be blooming in March. The crocus bulbs planted by volunteers on the triangle by the same gate have also done well. This was great to see as they didn’t appear last year and we assumed that the corms had rotted in the harsh weather that followed soon after planting. It certainly brightens up the entrance.
The formal gardens
The parterres by Lauderdale House have been replanted -- some with perennials and some with annuals. It was agreed between Camden and the Friends that this solution was a good cost saving compromise as annuals are very expensive to maintain every year but many park users appreciate them so it was decided to keep half the parterres with primula and geranium, bulbs and non-hardy structural plants.
Lauderdale sensory border
The long border flanking the Lauderdale lawn, which has been planted with green manure over winter, will soon be ready for planting. A planting plan has been completed by garden designer Sarah Ball and is currently with Camden for approval. Once Camden has approved it we will be uploading a copy of it to the website. It is hoped the plants will be with us by the end of March ready for planting up early April when volunteer Thursday resumes. (Anyone who is keen to spend a couple of hours a Thursday doing their bit for the park please call Patricia on 07710 312105).
Patricia Walby March 2012