Farrer backs Number 10 garden

Private gardens are important contribution to urban green space, says HW columnist Noel Farrer.

Downing Street: features added to garden by many prime ministers - image: Downing Street
Downing Street: features added to garden by many prime ministers - image: Downing Street

The maintenance bill for the Number 10 Downing Street garden has been defended by HW columnist Noel Farrer.

Farrer argued that private gardens are an important contribution to urban green spaces and the Number 10 garden should be an exemplar of the "liveable city" agenda (see p19).

"While the Government has spoken much about the importance of valuing the environment, I believe that for David Cameron the message must first begin at home," he said.

The maintenance bill for the garden was £47,321 in 2011-12, according to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude in reply to a written parliamentary question from opposition MP Diane Abbott last month.

That compares to a £56,027 maintenance bill in 2009-10 and £49,060 spent on the gardens in 2010-11. The Royal Parks is readying the Number 10 garden for Open Garden Squares Weekend on 8 June. Forty entrants to a public ballot will be selected at random for tours.

Royal Parks gardener William Tremorin said constant events in the garden mean that it requires regular maintenance.

"We do lawn work twice a year," he added. "Sowing is an annual thing, and later in the year we might have a three-week gap to do it again. Events start around now and go through to September non-stop and the garden has got to look nice."

The garden has been transformed in recent years, with additions including curved paths, enlarged box-edged borders and a rose walk.

Features have been added including a wildlife pond while Tony Blair was in office and two large planters for growing vegetables and herbs established by Gordon Brown's wife, Sarah. A children's play area was installed by the Camerons in 2012.

Tremorin said: "It took several years so we didn't interfere with the wildlife. There are various events year round and the garden has always got to be perfect."

He added: "The Blairs would stay out in the garden all the time and didn't care if we were out there pruning. The Browns loved wildlife and were very interested in the conservation side of the garden. The Camerons are quite busy and haven't settled into the garden yet. Their children are out here a lot."

Open access - Doors open at secret gardens

Open Gardens Weekend co-ordinator Robin Saklatvala said: "We are thrilled to be able to work with Downing Street and the National Trust to offer our visitors a memorable and rare opportunity to see the Number 10 garden. The two tours will be a highlight of the 2013 weekend."

Open Garden Squares Weekend takes place across 27 London boroughs on 8-9 June.

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