Introducing the New Gloucester Square Playground
After much consideration the Garden Committee intends to appoint HAGS to Complete the Gloucester Square Playground. Below is a planting plan and indicative layout prepared by Dr Jasmein Ayub of the Landscape Consultancy, the Garden’s retained Landscape Architect.
Please click the dots in the interactive image below for further detail.
A Fitting Memorial to a Famous Resident
A key reason for selecting HAGS was their ability to meet our aspiration to have a piece of equipment dedicated one of our first, and most respected historic residents, Robert Stephenson. The equipment selected is a Yacht, that will be named after Mr Stephenson’s successive yachts called Titania, that he nicknamed “The House that has no Knocker”, a direct reference to how frequently he was disturbed at his Gloucester Square address.
The equipment will be pointed towards Mr Stephenson’s former home on the Square, and include a nearby noticeboard explaining the history of Mr Stephenson’s Titania and his many expeditions, including racing “the America” in arguably the first America’s cup, and his trip to Cairo in 1858 where he had Christmas Dinner with Isambard Kingdom Brunel; they would both sadly pass away the next year. After Mr Stephenson’s death he was given the honour of a funeral coutege through Hyde Park (previously reserved for Royalty), with the procession passing from his home on Gloucester Square to Westminster Abbery, where he was laid to rest in the Nave alongside the likes of Sir Isaac Newton.
Professionally Planned Layout and Planting
The layout of the play equipment and planting has been professionally designed by our retained Landscape Architect, Dr Jasmein Ayub, who comments:
Wehave ended the play area planting at the edge of the Control Shed so the area beyond that (former nursery bed) is an area that can to be considered later separately from the play area. However, I have suggested a large-medium tree for just beyond the play area to provide screening for the dwellings on the eastern side of the garden. I suggest that be a River Birch tree (Betula Nigra). This species has the benefits of being large enough for screening, while staying much smaller than the surrounding London Plane trees. It is a beautiful conical shape tree and has a stunning peeling bark that provides winter-interest. River Birch will tolerate almost any conditions, sun, shade, even waterlogging, so I feel this is a good all-rounder that would be perfect for this spot.
Between the River Birch and the play area I have suggested shrubs which will provide year-round interest evergreen, berried and colourful stemmed species. Both the River Birch and Dogwoods, will help to reduce the water retention issue the area seem to currently have.
It has been suggested that some screening is required on the northern side. I didn’t think that solid screening would be appropriate on the lawned side of the play area so I have suggested that drifts of large grasses and other floaty plants be planted there. The species I have chosen vary in heights so there will be intermittent screening, without it feeling too harsh and formal.
I have tried to keep the planting simple while still providing lots of interest for the users of the play area. The planting plan is designed to be aesthetically pleasing, interesting and educational for children, as well as good for wildlife. Where possible I have tried to include species that have many elements of interest throughout the season. For example, the Amelanchier tree; it has beautiful bronze tinted leaves as they emerge in the spring, turning bright green in the summer and the fieriest colours of red and orange in autumn. It is laden with beautifully delicate star-shaped flowers in early spring which give way to green berries that turn navy-blue/black in late summer. The berries are edible, but are most delicious for the birds. The bare tree outline in winter is stunningly architecturally.
Recycling of Features
Efforts have been made to recycle materials from the existing play structure and Garden. Whilst regulations dictate the old equipment can’t be incorporated into climbing/play structres, we intend to:
- Repurpose the Felled Catalpa trunk (taken down owing to safety concerns and the imminent death of the tree), turning it into 2 x Sofa Benches for young children
- Recycle the Noughts and Crosses from the existing Play Structure, turning it into a standalone panel facing the tarmac path
- Use two of the posts from the existing Playtower as part of a Dual Side notice board, explaining the history of Titania on one side, the rules of the play area on the other.
Thank you to the Sponsoring Families
Thank you to the sponsoring families for donating in excess of £3,000 towards the project.