Run-down park gets community makeover

A park adjacent to Lambeth Palace in London has been transformed into a welcoming open space following a community regeneration project.

St Mary’s Gardens has been given a makeover by a group of local people working with Lambeth Council.

Chair of Friends of Archbishop’s Park Helen Lees led a group to raise cash from the National Lottery’s Breathing Places programme as well as funding and support from a range of local groups and businesses

Some provided money, while others provided ‘elbow-grease’ such as painting railings and planting shrubs.

Landscape designer Stephen Crisp created plans to turn the Gardens into an attractive and welcoming space for residents and visitors, while Putting Down Roots, the horticultural arm of St Mungo’s homelessness charity, helped with the planting.

Funding from Biffa supported the restoration of the leaking fountain, while volunteers from Ringway Jacobs lay the mosaic stepping stones and prepared the undercoat for the railings.
A finance team from Shell ran a team-building event one afternoon to paint the top coat, and Jubilee Walkway Trust gave money for bulbs.

Lambeth Council contributed funding and will oversee the future maintenance of the gardens.

The new design and planting of the gardens reflects the pattern of fields that once divided the historic Lambeth landscape, although the structural, sinuous hedges contribute a contemporary twist.

The garden is designed for year-round interest by incorporating a variety of structure, height, texture and colour in the planting, which will also be attractive to wildlife and contribute to the area’s biodiversity.

The garden also incorporates two educational pods which are currently full of sunflowers but which will change with the seasons. The pods are maintained by the Museum of Garden History and will encourage children to learn more about nature.

As part of the scheme, a new sign was installed on Friday (3 October) at the Garden entrance, depicting the history of the area and the renovation project.

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