Walk on Hampstead Heath
Wednesday 3rd February 2016
We gathered for coffee and an introduction to the park from writer and historian Virginia Rounding, Chairman of the Hampstead Heath Management Committee. She explained that Golders Hill Park is the former garden of a large house bombed during WW II.
There followed a tour in which we heard from many members of the skilled team who look after various aspects of the park. There has been a move to sustainable planting of the beds, and we admired the beautiful effects produced. The ‘stumpery’ was particularly unusual – similar to a rock garden but created around ‘contorted’ tree stumps which not only form a wonderful frame for the planting, but provide a good wildlife habitat. It has been based on a famous stumpery at Highgrove with help from the gardeners there – the staff were clearly delighted by the Royal support they’d received for the project!
Another highlight was the zoo, where some of us saw our first ever Kookaburra, and the keeper explained how they approach some of the issues of keeping animals and birds in a confined space. We took in ‘The Good The Bad and The Ugly’, an artwork of three steel dinosaurs created by Jake and Dinos Chapman, which has now found a home in the park.
Moving out of the park, the head plantswoman delighted keen gardeners during our walk through the adjoining Hill Garden, and we then saw the extraordinary Pergola with surrounding raised terraces and walkways forming part of a stunning garden created by Lord Leverhulme in the 1920’s (now a sought-after outdoor wedding venue).
We expressed our thanks to the staff for sharing their evident enthusiasm and knowledge with us, and to the Master for organising such an interesting visit. It concluded with a three course lunch with wine at the Golders Hill Park Café.