In June 2018 the idverde Green Space Development Team in partnership with RBKC Ecology and volunteer brokers Hands on London engaged several corporate volunteer groups in creating an all new wildlife garden in Avondale Park in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Avondale Park was created in 1892, following its purchase from the Adams family in 1889. After a considerable amount of terraforming the park was formally opened on 2 June 1892 under the name Avondale park after the late Duke of Clarence and Avondale. Avondale Park today supports a multi-use sports area which can be used for football, netball and tennis, as well as a children’s play area.
The original consultation on the site took place in February 2018. The wildlife garden has always been a feature and design concept of the park. However, over the intervening years it has suffered from neglect, and a lack of interest and purpose. Under the guidance of Leanne Brisland, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s Lead Ecologist, and Graham Patterson, Parks Manager, the wildlife gardens were redesigned as a space to enhance the biodiversity and ecology for the site while providing an accessible and enjoyable space to engage with nature.
Works to the wildlife garden began in September 2018 and took place over three days with the support of three corporate volunteer groups.
On the 12th of September volunteers from the Telegraph joined idverde volunteer managers and Hands on London staff to break ground on the new wildlife area. After a period of neglect and a particularly robust growing season the space was quite overgrown. Initial works involved a complete rip out and weeding of the area, with volunteers working with shears, mattocks and hand forks to clear out invasive or pernicious weed species while ensuring any incumbent desirable species were kept in place.
Following clearance works the volunteers began laying out the path system that would traverse the area and allow greater access to the site. Working with spades and mattocks a shallow trench was dug along the desired path perimeter. A selection of logs with a rough diameter of 20-30cm were laid in the trench forming the path border. To finalise the path volunteers secured the logs with wooden stakes and added a layer of woodchip along the route to form a defined trail and aid in suppressing weeds. By 3pm the group had completed a total clearance of the area and laid over 200m of log edged pathway.
On the 13th of September 40 volunteers from the Wellcome Trust joined idverde volunteer managers Andrew and Gerald to complete the second phase of works. Following the morning briefing and safety talk the volunteers were divided in to three groups.
Group1 used bow saws and anvil loppers and selectively cleared saplings and encroaching understory vegetation to help improve light penetration and aid in the development of ground-covering plant species.
Group 2 used hand trowels and spades to plant up various sections of the wildlife garden in accordance with the planting plan. Plants included mixed native hedging species such as hawthorn and dogwood and various fruiting species including raspberry and strawberry. In total over 360 wildflowers, four fruit trees, and 1,500 bulbs were planted across the wildlife garden.
Group 3 helped create an all new wetlands area opposite the entrance to the garden. Using spades and mattocks the group dug a pit approximately two feet deep, lined it with a bentonite clay liner and then backfilled with soil. Following this the habitat was planted with various wetland species such as yellow flag iris. The final step involved watering the area heavily to create the wet soil composition needed for the habitat to thrive.
The final day of work on the all new wildlife garden involved volunteers from Alexion who generously gave their time and design expertise in crafting a series of colourful interpretation posters and boards for the wildlife garden. These boards were placed along the various sections of the wildlife trail to help school groups and members of the public in learning more about the newly created space.
At the end of the frantic three-day garden build the final tally of works read over 1,800 plants planted, over 200m of log edged pathways installed, and in excess of 30 tonne bags of green waste removed.
The wildlife garden will offer an amazing opportunity for the development of the ecology of Avondale Park and promote greater engagement and enjoyment of this space with locals and visitors alike.