Sunken garden at Heathfield

liz sunken gardenRaymond Riesco who owned Heathfield until his death, whereupon he bequeathed the grounds to the council, was both a keen gardener and horse owner. In the 1920’s he had a large win on a horse called Arthur’s Choice  and used the money to install oak panel staircase in the house and employ  landscape gardeners to design the sunken and walled gardens around heathfield.

liz sunken long

On an unsually sunny day a visit to Heathfield showed the joys of spring with snowdrops, primroses and other hardy perennials making an appearance.

liz snowdrops

liz pansies Raymond Riesco once planted a cedar tree as a surprise present for his wife’s birthday. I’m not sure I would find a pot big enough but perhaps something smaller might be appropriate!

Liz cedar

The cedar tree in the background

liz arch

lavender bushes line the side of the path.

liz home

Entrance to the Orchard and Croydon Ecology Centre. I don’t think the sheep are at home.

liz sheep

Oh yes they are, Sam says hello!


The Queen’s Gardens

queens shrubsIt is unlikely that Prince Harry will be taking his fiancé Meghan Markle to see his grandmother’s gardens in Central Croydon anytime soon. But the origins of the gardens owes more to a disused railway line than any royal patronage.

queens siding

Sunken garden

queens terminate

Site of Central Croydon station

In the late 1800s East Croydon station, today one of the busiest non terminating stations in Southern England, was felt to be too far away from the main Croydon shopping centre. So plans were made to extend the railway line to Central Croydon and the station was built there in January 1868. Unfortunately, this branch line was short-lived and Central Croydon closed in November 1871 to become another disused railway station.

queens pathNevertheless, the building of Croydon Central did bring the land into sole ownership and in 1889 it was decided to build Council offices, a library and a Police station on land around the old railway site. In 1895 the Borough Engineer modified these plans to include gardens at the centre.

queens fairfieldIn the late 1950s the council’s obligations could no longer be accommodated in the existing buildings, so it was decided to relocate the gardens to allow the building of new council offices in Taberner House.  The new building was completed in 1968 and the architect was then tasked to join the original sunken garden as part of the Queen’s Gardens with the new garden in Taberner House, and a fountain as its centre point.

queens fountain

Site of the garden fountains (now filled in) with saffron farm located behind the hoardings.  The Police station, brown building on  far right, used to occupy part of Queen’s garden site.

The construction of the new Queen’s Garden commenced in October 1982 and was completed for the Borough Centenary celebrations. The new gardens were opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 21st June 1983.

queens reflection

Bernard Weatherill House th new council hq

Of course, since then the council has downsized its main central building relocating across the road to new premises at Bernard Weatherill House. Taberner House itself has been demolished and a pop up Saffron farm established until the vacant land has been redeveloped. The farm volunteers planted 20,000 crocuses and after they had flowered the remaining bulbs were given to other parks like the heathfield garden, schools and voluntary gardening projects.

queens safron

Not graffiti but art encouraged by Croydon Council while vacant land is redeveloped.



Easter at Coombe Wood Gardens

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATerence Meredith,  Gardener of the Year in 2013 and the team have excelled in their choice and variety of plants on display in the rockery this Easter. Primulas, Tulips, Pansies, Pink Buttons and even upside down tulips, Coombe Gardens has it all.





If you are intrigued by the tulips that seem to have been planted upside down  I have covered these plants in a previous blog.


upside-down tulips


Happy Easter!



Tree down at Coombe Wood gardens

Storm Katie from last night brought down a fir-tree on the edge of Coombe Wood onto conduit lane near the car park. Fortunately nobody was passing by and no cars were damaged.


Fallen fir-tree in conduit lane

The destructive power of the storm wrenched the base of the tree from the ground, causing large splinters of wood.


Splintered tree trunk

The storm also brought down trees in Addington Hills and Heathfield as seen below.


tree down in Addington Hills


Fallen tree at heathfield

The wet weather can also make walking hazardous as  a woman walking in Heathfield slipped on a grass verge. Croydon Central Parks was nearby and offered tissues and sympathy. Fortunately  the lady was not hurt, only a muddy jacket and injured pride. The skid mark was evident on the ground, so please do take care while walking over wet grass.


slippery grass


Winter garden at Coombe Woods


Bedding plants including winter pansies at the entrance to the wood

The displays of flowers are always excellent at this wood at anytime of the year. The hardy perennials on display in the beds brought a vivid color to the garden.

I asked Terence Meredith, the resident gardener how the plants would cope with hard ground frosts that had been forecast in the coming week? He reassured me that their bedding plants would be fine and that although the daffodils looked delicate they often appeared early thanks to our milder winters.

cat among dafodils

cat among daffodils

One plant that does require protection from the frosts is the banana plant. Terence has built a wooden box about four-foot tall with a tarpaulin cover to ensure the plant grows steadily, so it can appear majestic when it takes its place in the summer garden.

Banana plant

Banana plant

Exploration of the wood showed that the camellias were in bloom, the bright pink leaves brightening up the wooded path.

camellias in bloom

camellias in bloom and potential for more

Upside Down Tulip

Upside Down Tulip

Upside Down Tulip

I recently spotted this unusual tulip in Coombe Wood Garden . How did the council contract gardeners  get the tulip to grow upside down? Did they have to plant the bulb upside down or turn it around once it had started growing. It looks like it has been ” slam dunked” on the basketball court. I wonder if you have any ideas?

I will have to check with Terence , gardener of the year in 2013 for the official explanation. In the meantime I hope you enjoy the picture. Just in case you might be thinking that I manipulated the image I have included another one with their more regular cousins.

Tulips two upside down

Tulips two upside down

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Autumn Reds in Heathfield Gardens

autumn at heathfield

autumn at heathfield

If your garden is looking rather drab at the moment now the leaves have fallen from the bushes or trees or a lack of colour in the trees on your street; then I suggest you take a quick trip down to your local Croydon Central Park. These photographs were taken recently at Heathfield showing the beauty of nature mixing  autumn reds with the evergreens .

Striking reds at Heathfield

Striking reds at Heathfield

Striking reds at Heathfield

Striking reds at Heathfield

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Squadron of Dragonflies at Heathfield

We were walking up the hill at Heathfield when were accompanied by a squadron of dragonflies. There were about six in all and they flew ahead of us and then held back until we caught them up. Again they flew ahead of us and waited for us to catch up.

I decided to find their home and on another visit to Heathfield I located one flying around the small pond as you can see in the picture. I would like to say that I used my DSLR camera on a wide aperture and a fast shutter speed , but I can’t.

dragonfly over small heathfield pond

dragonfly over small heathfield pond

I have a standard digital camera and I set it at 4x zoom its maximum setting!. The dragonfly was moving in a clockwise direction around the pond, so I waited until it arrived at 6 O’ Clock position and then snapped the picture. Unfortunately, the first few times I tried I totally missed the dragonfly. I  spent a full five minutes waiting for the dragonfly to fly into position and then got lucky with the shot.

Hope you enjoy the picture, they are certainly beautiful insects.