Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park is situated 0.5 miles from the south bank of the River Thames in the Borough, Bankside and Walworth area of London.
The 5.7 hectare park was opened in 1934 and forms an outstanding setting for London’s famous Imperial War museum. The park is an important recreational area, providing an oasis with an open and relaxing ambiance in an area of dense population.
Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park serves a diverse community and is visited by over 1 million people per year, including local residents, tourists, students from visiting colleges and schools, sports clubs, and budding gardeners. Famous visitors include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who opened the park’s Tibetan Peace Garden in 1999, and Vladimir Putin, who visited to pay his respects at the Soviet War Memorial.
The park provides areas for those seeking quiet, informal recreation, with large open grass areas, picnic areas, and an orchard, as well as the World Garden and Tibetan Peace Garden. For those seeking more active recreation, there is a dedicated sports area with a number of multi-use games pitches, tennis courts, an outdoor gym and play area.
idverde UK (trading as Quadron Services) has been responsible for the grounds maintenance of the park (excluding the area immediately in front of the) since May 2004, when the company was awarded Southwark Council’s integrated parks grounds maintenance contract. In 2012, Quadron supported Southwark Council in preparing the park for its first entry into the Green Flag Awards. The entry was successful and the park has retained its Green Flag ever since.
The park received a further accolade in 2016, when idverde UK (through its legacy company, Quadron idverde) was awarded a British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) National Award for its excellent standards of maintenance at the park.
The management of the park is focussed on the provision of healthy and safe facilities and a secure environment in which to relax. idverde UK employs four static staff in the park, including a horticultural apprentice, led by Head Gardener, Tom Edwards. They are supported by the area mobile litter team as needed. The presence of on-site, uniformed staff contributes towards providing a feeling of safety when visiting the park.
Given the high profile nature of the site, cleanliness is a key factor. Litter is cleared via two daily sweeps, plus on an ad-hoc basis as necessary by our site-based staff. Bins should be emptied before they are 50% full and recyclable materials are separated wherever possible. As with many urban parks, dog fouling can be an issue. Dual use bins are provided across the park, and free dog poo bags are available on request from the park team. We also deploy a special Faeces Intake Disposal Operation (FIDO) machine, which visits the park weekly, with supplementary visits if needed, for example prior to events.
Other key maintenance tasks carried out by our team include general area grass cutting, edging, shrub, rose and herbaceous bed maintenance, floral container maintenance, hedge maintenance, daily inspection of play equipment, leaf clearance and hard surface cleansing. The Head Gardener also leads quarterly walkabouts with the Friends group and members of the community, teaching them about the horticulture and history of the site.
In line with Southwark Council’s environmental policy, no pesticides are used in the park. We use Weedingtech’s innovative Foamstream system to remove weeds from hard surfaces using a chemical free hot foam application which is harmless to parks visitors and the environment. Other environmental considerations include recycling all green waste as mulch, no use of peat, and the deployment of zero-emission electric vehicles throughout the contract area.
In order to aid biodiversity, various parts of the park have been designated for nature conservation. The main conservation interests are the conservation borders, wildlife and pond areas, orchard and woodland in this otherwise highly urban area. The rare London Hairy Buttercup has been found in the grassland. The park contains a number of mixed hedgerows and trees and many of the boundary and internal walls are planted with ivy to attract birds and insects, and in recent years 15,000 bulbs have been planted to encourage pollinators.
Southwark Council’s key long-term objective for Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park is “to protect and enhance the historic fabric of the park, improve biodiversity and ecology whilst ensuring the park offers a range of facilities and activities to produce an enjoyable and attractive park that caters for a wide range of visitors.” We are pleased to be able to support the council in achieving this goal for this much-loved London park.