Greenwich Park border design detail revealed

Chris Beardshaw has revealed his design plans for London's longest herbaceous border as Greenwich Park staff start work on planting.

(From l - r) Michala Haines, park manager Graham Dear, Chris Beardshaw and Zoe Basham
(From l - r) Michala Haines, park manager Graham Dear, Chris Beardshaw and Zoe Basham

The designer took his starting point from the 1616 Indigo Jones-designed Queen's House. He noticed how long and narrow the 220x4m border is and decided to slice it into "digestible sections" with winged yew dividers placed at the edges of the house and at the porticos.

"The Queen's House was the first example of this kind of style in the UK and we were asked not to do anything that would contradict the architecture," he said. "We needed to make sure that nothing grew higher than the ha-ha. The idea was to relate the borders to the house behind."

Beardshaw is using blue, silver and grey colours in the centre with some yellow and purple "for a bit of gravity". The colours will get brighter as the border spreads from the centre, with oranges and reds moving out to green and white. The plants are UK-grown or potted on.

"We wanted to create a border that was unashamedly of the time and referenced Gertrude Jekyll," he said. The border will be full of exotics and cultivars, sourced through Meredith's and contract finished in the UK.

Beardshaw added: "There was no move to make it into a prairie planting style. It's great given the state most British parks are in to have the luxury to put in what's quite high-maintenance and demanding planting - that's what sets Greenwich apart from any other park."

Parks staff - Planting work gets underway

Greenwich Park head horticulturist and assistant contract manager Michala Haines and qualified gardener Zoe Basham have started planting the border and the work is expected to take six weeks.

Haines said: "It's a fantastic opportunity. We don't normally get to work with a designer. We took what was there before out over a year ago and we've had a lot of interest from the public about what's happening."

The pair, who work for park contractor Turfsoil, said they advised designer Chris Beardshaw on what the public like to see in the park.

Retired Turfsoil contract manager Mick Cheney and gardener Len Hawkes have temporarily returned to add their expertise to the project.

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