Header title for Friends of Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens Header image for Friends of Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens

Join us

Help us preserve the peace and beauty of our parks and enjoy exclusive member benefits.


February - Frosts and Flowers

February - Frosts and Flowers

Hard frosts turned Buck Hill into a deepest country landscape, and the clear, sunny half term days which followed filled the parks with children and their families getting to know London. Days are clearly stretching out and we know we’ve turned the page on winter.


After our “spot the colour hunt” started in the early days of New Year, February has been a frenzy of dashing about, as so much is popping up all over.

Loads of these little splashes of bright colour appear amongst the grass and are the results of successful planting exercises, using volunteers and a specially designed tractor. Thousands of spring bulbs have been planted this way and the results are delightful.

The Iris Reticulata is everywhere, and is particularly lovely in the grass round the small but poignant memorial to those soldiers, civilians and horses who lost their lives or were injured on 20th July 1982 on South Carriage Drive.

Mimosa, by the Old Police House, is always an early golden show but, unfortunately, this year has been so decimated by people stealing branches it looks quite bare on one side…shame.

Luckily, several new trees have been planted and are becoming established in the protected area behind railings at the Cavalry Memorial.

Look at the Dell for pure spectacle and, close by, the quiet and peaceful setting around London’s first Holocaust Memorial. The surrounding boulders set amongst silver-trunked birch trees circle the large stones inscribed from lamentations with
“For these I weep streams tears flow from my eyes  because of the destruction of my people.”

As controversy swirls round the massive memorial proposed for Victoria Tower Gardens, this quiet and reflective place, now surrounded by swathes of snowdrops, should be visited and appreciated by anyone who would like to pass some time in quiet contemplation.

My friend, the Edgeworthia, has some satsuma orange coloured cousins growing in the nursery, so hopefully they too will soon be appearing as are unusual family members of the Hamamelis Mollis (witch hazel) which is at a showy time of year, and has lots of new plants establishing around the rose garden and Cavalry Memorial beds (and in front of the bandstand toilets).

Our thanks to Hyde Park Head Gardener Beth Handley, for giving us the information which set us off in the right directions.

A VIP date for all our members

Friends of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
Annual General Meeting
Weds 19th July
6pm at The LookOut in Hyde Park

With grateful thanks to Graham Alderton who is the operations coordinator at this busy and beautiful location.
AGM 2022 at the LookOut
More details will follow, and this year we will try hard to arrange transport to this very central Hyde Park location for those who would find it a help.

Remembering Luciano Pavarotti

We know some members who remember the first Stones Concert and, following some recent footage of Pavarotti in Hyde Park in 1991 being shown again on BBC 4, longstanding member Neill Mitchell got in touch with the following memoire about this concert. It rained torrentially from beginning to end.
The concert was in aid of the Prince of Wales Tree Appeal (following the hurricane in 1987
Neill writes
“I was beneath a little tree which offered no shelter, but was joined by a travelling salesman from Justerini and Brooks of St James’s, with whom I shared a very fine bottle of claret poured by him into two cutglass tasting glasses, despite the two of us being total strangers to each other!

Now that is chic…..soaked to the skin in office suits (requested not to raise umbrellas to avoid obstructing the view of others), standing under a little tree in Hyde Park, drinking fine claret in cutglass to the live performance of Pavarotti!”.

Neil adds, it had been warm and dry all day which was why they were all there in office suits. It is still fresh in his memory, 31 years later.
The sunnier Stones Concert attendees

I wonder how many members have similar strong memories of other very special occasions, perhaps the Carol King concert which people get misty eyed over. Sadly, I wasn’t there, I had to make do with seeing it on telly, but it was SO good even then.

More Dates!

Make a note, and look out for booking details which will follow soon. All these groups are for limited numbers.

The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground Kensington Gardens
Thursday 23rd March 9am
Re-discover your inner child…our new playground manager, Ryan Gill is keen to show us what is happening, tell us about plans, and show us what’s changed since we were last able to get in (if ever). This is a private visit in the morning, before the Playground opens to the public. Followed by coffee etc and pastries at 10am

The Nursery, Hyde Park
Thursday 11th May 6pm
This part of the Royal Parks empire has been transformed, since it was taken under the wing of new manager Rob Dowling a year ago. (See below).
It has always been a highlight of our calendar. I booked us in quickly, as Rob told me that his diary was filling up with visits……followed by drinks (last year it was Pimms)

For all of these events, booking will be by Eventbrite
We are grateful to all the kind members of staff who have offered to entertain us, and to trustee Tina Higginson for managing the bookings. More events will follow as they are confirmed.

Ist Anniversary Celebrations

Our photographer and I had a most enjoyable visit to the nursery to meet the elite team.

A year on from the in-sourcing of the nursery to Royal Parks, Rob Dowling and the nursery team have overhauled the operations and growing environments. There has been an enormous clean and tidy up, pleasant areas have been created to help all the volunteers and staff with the propagating, growing and tender plant winterising that is now a feature of our Royal Parks calendar.
Head gardeners are looking for interesting new plants and ways of displaying them best. And we enjoy the results. The staffing structure itself is different and there is now a grade recognition of the horticultural experts. Each one is established in a house (that’s glass not street) and has a particular specialism. The depth of knowledge is awesome. We were bowled over and long to show you all what and how they are growing. We could put together an entire newsletter about the nursery alone even without starting on the technical details.

If you are able to join us for the tour in the evening in May, you will see the environment for yourselves and how it has changed.

We met four of the experts, there is also Jo who many of you have met, and we have photographed her from time to time. Apologies to her, we ran out of time.

Thanks to Aaron, Dave, Charlie, and Mark

Aaron is in charge of house No 8 and grows the large 2ft 3ft and 4ft Senna red Pelargoniums, all specifically grown for the beds at Buckingham Palace. From tiny cuttings to serried ranks of hundreds of tall plants in four and five litre pots, everything is the result of his skill. The world will see the end results as the film crews move in again this year for the first King’s Birthday Parade for HM King Charles III, in June. His depth of knowledge of this unique crop is incredible.

Mark is the vegetative propagation professor having charge of two houses and has worked in the Royal Parks for thirty years. Way back, he was an apprentice in the gardens of Eltham Palace.
Now, he teaches apprentices the art of taking cuttings. The favourite part of his job is the end stage when he sees trays of his plants going out to fill the parks with colour and interest.

Dave also is a propagation maestro, but was very busy setting up a team of volunteers for their afternoon session which we didn’t want to interrupt.

Charlie, in his scented pelargonium kingdom (House no 8) was extremely enthusiastic about the volunteers and thinks they have brought much to benefit the nursery. He enjoys meeting so many different people.
His world is fascinating, scented leaf pelargoniums of every shape and texture. Cola, cider, lemon, Old Spice are a few. He taught us the difference between a pelargonium and a geranium. There were dozens of different varieties, all carefully labelled. His favourite is Regal Joy which has a flower a bit like a carnation. For Charlie, this is a long way from his family’s theatrical background, but he is clearly very much in a place which he loves.

Our thanks to them all for being so patient and so enthusiastic with us two ignoramuses.

The volunteers have become an important element of the nursery growing capabilities, and are much appreciated by everybody we spoke to on our visit. The training was impressive and I believe some of the volunteers have gone on towards a career in horticulture.

Welcome Ismini

The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen (SBK) has a new manager who we met over a breakfast coffee this week. Ismini moved to London from Greece 12 years ago.

She worked as part of the Benugo team at many central locations, including our own South Kensington Museums and Westminster Abbey. Ismini also launched Benugo at some new locations before becoming a General Manager. She says Benugo are a great company to work for.
She has now won Manager of the Year for the second time. We wish her luck in her new role here in this lovely location.
We didn’t have time to have a Full English breakfast, but on the menu it looked great.

Don’t forget to use your members card for the 25% discount.

Look Up

The Serpentine Gallery has had scaffolding enclosing its clock tower, for some time. Now, all is revealed and a wonderful restoration has been completed.

The gold on the weathervane sparkles in the sun, wood, brickwork and lead look extremely smart. Congratulations to the team at the Gallery, and also for returning the front garden to a great lawn, after the departure of the temporary pavilion.

You no longer have to book tickets to go into the two galleries, so do enjoy the chance to nip in when you’re in the area.

The show in the Serpentine Gallery North is gorgeous and very tactile looking. Hard to keep your hands off!

Sue Price

Paul Shelley
Rob Dowling
Ryan Gill.
Sue Price