Steps to the terrace at Coombe Wood Garden, Croydon

Coombe Wood Garden is an ornamental garden located on the outskirts of central Croydon. The garden was opened to the public in 1948, and is open all year round. The garden has great amenity value for local residents as well as attracting visitors from further afield. The park was awarded a Green Flag Award for the first time in 2008 and has retained it ever since. In 2016 the garden received a British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) National Award for its excellent maintenance standards.

idverde UK maintained the site from February 2014 until January 2019 under Croydon Council’s Borough-wide grounds maintenance contract.

Our dedicated and skilled Head Gardener, Terence ‘Tec’ Meredith is permanently based at the site. Tec is easily identifiable in his distinctive idverde uniform, and the presence of a fulltime uniformed gardener during the week provides a reassuring official presence for visitors.

Tec knows every nook and corner of the garden, having worked here since 2004. He can also list an RHS Certificate in Horticulture and a City & Guilds Diploma in Horticulture amongst his qualifications, as well as a CIEH Level 2 in Emergency First Aid, plus in-house training on health and safety and various items of plant and equipment. Always keen to bring a fresh approach to his care of the gardens, Tec regularly visits other parks and gardens around the UK for inspiration. He is also happy to offer advice to colleagues and, indeed, parks visitors, on planting schemes and pruning. In addition to his horticultural maintenance tasks, such as planting, pruning and weed clearance, Tec’s duties include picking up litter, emptying litter bins and carrying out a visual inspection of seats, bins, signs and steps.

Coombe Wood Gardens is designed as a series of ‘rooms’, providing colour and interest throughout the seasons. Substantial pruning works have been carried out to open up the entrance and view into the gardens by reducing the boundary hedges. The bright floral bedding displays, contrasting ferns and topiary can now be seen through the open park gates, drawing visitors into the gardens.

The key areas or ‘rooms’ making up the garden include the pond, with its Pulham rockery, the terrace garden, the broad walk and herbaceous border, the prairie garden and conservation area, and the contemporary and winter garden.
Head gardener, Tec Meredith, has been an integral part of the development of the garden’s management plan and maintenance programme. Hoeing and hand pulling of weeds is encouraged, particularly in the ornamental areas and the borders are reassessed each autumn to establish successes and failures so that any replacement requirements for a late winter/spring planting can be programmed for the following year.

As an ISO 14001 accredited company, we aim to carry out our operations with appropriate consideration for the environment. All green waste arising from site is collected on site and taken to the Council’s Waste Transfer Station for composting. The resulting product is called ‘Croy-post’ and is used throughout Croydon’s parks as mulch, where it helps to reduce water loss and weed growth. Spent mushroom compost is also used on the rose beds and the herbaceous border (although not on acid loving plants due to its higher pH value). The Head Gardener also uses kitchen and garden waste to produce compost on site which is then incorporated into the beds.

The Head Gardener re-uses arisings such as hazel prunings as pea sticks, and bamboo sticks from the herbaceous borders have been used as hoops to keep children off the alpines. To help conserve water and to minimise the environmental impact of the twice yearly replacement of bedding material, the area of annual bedding has been reduced and replaced with ornamental drought tolerant shrub and herbaceous species, such as purple sage. The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) visit the garden several times to year to work with Tec on conservation tasks in the park.

Pesticide use is kept to an absolute minimum and a fertilizer-free zone is maintained around the pond. On occasions when chemicals are used, the treated areas are cordoned off and the dose accurately calibrated. Chemical treatment is only applied by staff who are NPTC PA1/PA6a qualified.

Croydon Council’s vision for the borough’s parks and green spaces is for them “to be maintained for future generations, to be enjoyed by local communities, to encourage and enable healthier lifestyles, to preserve and improve the borough’s ecology and biodiversity, to provide the space for exciting cultural events and entertainment that attract visitors and support our economy, and to become one of the key factors that make Croydon a great place to live, work and socialise”.

We are pleased to be able to support this goal by continuing to work in partnership with Croydon Council to ensure Coombe Wood Gardens continues to attract visitors from Croydon and beyond, and that it maintains its reputation as one of Croydon’s destination parks.