About the Regent’s Park

The Regent’s Park is one of London’s eight famous Royal Parks, comprising approximately 400 acres in the London Borough of Camden and the City of Westminster. The Park is Grade 1 Listed on the National Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest, and has received Keep Britain Tidy’s Green Flag Award every year since 2005.

Some of The Regent’s Park most notable features include the iconic floral displays of the Avenue Gardens, London’s largest collection of roses, a boating lake, numerous sports pitches, and open spaces including Primrose Hill, which affords a panoramic view of the London skyline. Not only does the park offer an oasis of peace and fresh air in the city, it also provides a significant wildlife habitat, including what is believed to be the last breeding population of hedgehogs in central London.

idverde’s Role

idverde has been responsible for grounds maintenance in the park on behalf of The Royal Parks since June 2014, when the company was awarded the seven-year contract. idverde’s Contract Manager for the park, Lucy Fisher, leads a team of 38 permanent staff, including horticultural apprentices, who are supplemented by up to 12 agency staff at peak times.  Lucy herself knows the park extremely well, having begun her horticultural career here as an apprentice. Likewise, several members of her team joined the park staff as apprentices and are now permanent members of staff in the park. In 2019, idverde received a British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) National Award for its excellent standards of grounds maintenance in the park, testament to the hard work and dedication of Lucy and her team.

idverde’s team carries out an extensive and varied set of tasks in The Regent’s Park. These include cutting over 100 hectares of grass (including fine lawn, amenity grass, sports turf and meadowland), designing and maintaining the Park’s many bedding displays (and, in some cases, designing the displays), shrub and rose maintenance, inspecting the park’s four playgrounds, and cleansing (including litter picking, and emptying the park’s 200+ waste bins). There are also two carpenters in the team who carry out repairs to the park’s wooden benches and bins when needed.

Challenges

One of the main challenges is ensuring the park remains litter-free and clean for the public to enjoy. With annual visitor numbers estimated to be in excess of 8 million, the park is well-used throughout the day, particularly during the summer period. A ‘scavenge’ team operates seven-days a week to ensure litter is picked and bins are emptied in a timely manner. This task can be particularly challenging in the peak summer months, when the sheer number of people in the park makes it difficult for staff to access the bins. At these times, scavenger crews are available from 5am, and dust cart crews will attend the Park until midnight. Two mechanised sweepers also help to keep the main thoroughfares clear, with at least one of these being deployed every day, including weekends. At quieter times, the scavenge team assist with other tasks between rounds, such as weeding and edging lawns.

Grass cutting is another significant task for our maintenance teams. The park includes an extensive range of grassed areas, varying from ornamental lawns to sports pitches, totalling approximately 100 hectares. All of the grassed areas are cut once a week, with teams taking around four days to complete the entire site. Staff are trained on a range of machinery to complete this work, including pedestrian mowers, tractors, gang mowers and tractor mounted rotary mower equipment.

As with litter picking, it can be challenging for our teams to access the park’s grassed areas at peak times due to the numbers of visitors using the park. With assistance from idverde’s Head of Assets and Fleet, and the support of the Royal Parks, idverde is using an innovative method to overcome this challenge: the team is currently trialling a robotic Husqvarna lawnmower in an area of Queen Mary’s Gardens. The mower is programmed to cut the grass overnight when the park is empty, and has a GPS tracking system to enable it to map the cutting area and ensure the entire area of grass is cut regularly. The mower is programmed to stop and change direction if it encounters even a small object to ensure no harm to passing wildlife. The mower can also be controlled via a mobile phone app, and is fitted with an alarm and tracker in case of attempted interference. idverde’s gardener in this area of the park reports that the quality of the lawn is excellent and that he is now able to dedicate more time to maintaining other parts of the garden as less time needs to be spent on grass maintenance.

The Regent’s Park is perhaps most famous for its stunning floral displays. The most extensive of these can be found in the Avenue Gardens, at the South East end of the Park, where colourful, formal bedding displays augment fountains, ornamental vases, and fine lawns, providing a stunning display for visitors. To prepare these areas can take several months, with the bedding being stripped out and the beds prepared for each season, followed by between four and five weeks of planting. Once planted, the beds require continuous maintenance to ensure the displays continue to thrive and exhibit the horticultural standards of excellence expected in a Royal Park.

A similarly demanding area is Queen Mary’s Gardens, which includes London’s largest collection of roses, a Delphinium border with full National Collection status, Mediterranean borders, and the Begonia Garden. idverde deploys a staff of nine in this area, including two permanent staff who are dedicated to caring for the rose garden’s 85 rose beds, comprising over 12,000 roses. As well as ongoing maintenance to the roses, the idverde team replants around four of the rose beds each year, improving the beds with manure and organic material before replacing the roses to ensure their long-term good health.

Environmental Considerations

As an ISO 14001 accredited company, idverde is keen to carry out its activities with minimal impact on the environment. All of the green waste produced in the course of our operations at The Regent’s Park is composted in our large on-site facility at the Leaf Yard and is then reused in the Park. In some areas, willow prunings have been reused as decorative edging hoops to help protect bedding from the attentions of the park’s goose and swan population. We also utilise two electric utility vehicles within the park for their zero emissions credentials.

To aid our client’s biodiversity aims, we are pleased to support The Royal Parks in protecting the park’s hedgehog population by ensuring that a corridor for hedgehogs is preserved around the park’s perimeter hedges. We also schedule works to hedges to avoid bird nesting season.

idverde is pleased to be able to support The Royal Parks in ensuring that The Regent’s Park continues to be recognised as a world class park, by delivering the high standards of maintenance which our client and visitors to this prestigious park expect.