And so the song goes! This grand old lady that I refer to is well over 100 years old and she has certainly struggled over the years but has stood the test of time. So, who might she be? ‘She’ is a popular green space in Wimbledon. See if you can guess which one by reading more…
Nestled in the centre of a conservation area of Wimbledon’s town centre, she has come kicking and fighting her way through all the difficulties thrown her way. Made up of 6 acres, she has survived a war, parts of her have been demolished and subjected to vandalism, rowdy behaviour, on and off band concerts, and she has even had cart horses stop for a drink from the 1904-donated cattle trough which still stands today.
But despite all, the lady is still with us!
If you have not managed to guess who ‘she’ is yet, she is South Park Gardens.
Having been adopted and maintained by the Borough of Merton together with the passion and commitment of the Friends of South Park Gardens Charity, today we have a much loved and well-used tranquil oasis in the heart of Wimbledon. However, following a steady decline over the 1990s, it was only with sheer hard work and perseverance in years following that a 2009 Heritage Lottery Grant made possible the true restoration of the Gardens to its original Victorian splendour. And with that restoration and further care and attention, this grand old lady is still with us.
Today she has more than 150 trees within her: limes, yews, judas, and even a very rare strawberry tree to help make up a total of 40 different types of trees. She also welcomes the presence of numerous birds – enough to thrill any birdwatcher! With over 23 different types of winged friends, from Jays to Spotted Woodpeckers to the little Jenny Wrens and the lovely English Robin, their tweets send a song of joy throughout the Gardens. Along with beautiful rose gardens, seasonal flowers and shrubs with serpentine pathways, this community green space is a welcome retreat for Mums and Dads with their little ones, and local workers seeking a break from work. With comfy benches for sitting and reflecting, it has a peace and quiet that appeals to everyone.
And our venerable lady has been modernised too. With continuing restoration work and the addition of a Garden Pavilion which supports the community with Pilates, Yoga, and Art and Calligraphy classes to name a few, the Gardens enjoy a year-round use. The Bliss in the Park Café has been added and well received too. The Garden’s Friends work tirelessly through fund-raising to provide community entertainment in the form of Easter Egg hunts, Cream Teas for seniors, Fireworks and Bonfire Parties, Jazz concerts and even a Teddy Bears’ Picnic! Something to appeal to everyone. Sadly, with the current virus climate, events must continue to stay under review.
Yet, I am sure that this grand old lady will stay with us for many years to come. And it should be announced far and wide that she has recently won the prestigious Green Flag status. This international accolade means that our South Park Gardens boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities. Not bad for a 121 year old… Isn’t she lovely indeed!
Whilst we are enjoying our green spaces more than ever, come along and visit, and if you want to support her further, consider becoming a member of the Friends of South Park Gardens (for a mere £5.00 per household.) You can also host events in the Garden Pavilion which is available for hire and looks out on to the beautiful gardens. She awaits your visit!
Written by Kathie Arundell
Also keep your eyes peeled for a new summer-long campaign to reduce anti-social behaviour in parks. As always, we will keep you updated, so do keep visiting Wimblecomm.