News Update

Landscaping improvement

By the time you read this, Opera Holland Park is likely to have cleared the canopy and ancillary buildings from the Holland House site in record time, and Blakedown Landscapes will have started work on improving the environment around Holland House. This entails relaying the surface of the south terrace; re-siting the access road to that terrace, making the café yard a much more attractive space; and conservation of the walls and steps related to the terrace. Time is tight to finish the work before Opera Holland Park reclaim the site in March 2018. Some practical considerations are:

•    The Friends’ Nature Walk on Saturdays 7 Oct., 4 Nov. and 2 Dec. will meet by the entrance to the Stable Yard.

•    Holland Park Café will remain open throughout but, at some point, the entrance might be from the north. Look for the signs. The café seating area outside to the south will be closed until March 2018.

•    The Stable Yard, Police and Parks Offices will remain open throughout.

•    The south terrace of Holland House will be closed until October 2018.

Holland House conservation

Stonework repairsWe understand that the surveyor’s technical assessment of the state of Grade-1-listed Holland House has not yet been completed and that this cannot be done until the opera canopy has been removed to allow free access. After the surveyor’s report comes the proposal of works to be done, then RBKC approval. This will take time, so any work proposed is unlikely to start before the end of the 2018 opera season. This puts it well behind the schedule stated in the Conservation Management Plan for Holland House. From sight alone and, given that loose finial stones had to be removed this summer, it is likely that much work is urgently needed. By 2018, it will be ten years since repairs were last carried out on the building, as a result of the property being put on Historic England’s (then English Heritage) ‘At Risk Register’. We want to see this historic building, at the heart of Holland Park, preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.

Photo: Jennie kettlewell

Belvedere building refurbishment

Belvedere TowerExterior refurbishment of the Belvedere Restaurant has started and the restaurant will be closed during October and November 2017. This work entails removing non-compliant additions to the building (listed under the curtilage of Grade-1-listed Holland House) and rationalising the maze of service plant on the roof. The tower will be renovated to halt deterioration. The restaurant hopes to re-open in December for its busy Christmas season. The Belvedere is one of our Friends & Neighbours partners, and offers a 10% discount on presentation of a Friends’ membership card, so make sure you book a table and enjoy the very tempting menu when it re-opens.

Photo: Jennie Kettlewell

Poetry Seat

Sadly our Poetry Seat, carved by Martin Pigg, has succumbed to the elements. It looked at home in its setting just east of the Lord Holland Pond, but we always suspected that the wood would not last for ever.

Box tree caterpillar

Box tree caterpillarMany of you might have experienced the rapacious box tree caterpillar (Diaphania perspectalis) in your own garden, so you know what a stubborn beastie it is and that it can completely defoliate a box plant in days. It is the larva of a moth and has been named ‘Top Pest’ by the Royal Horticultural Society. As it spreads fast across the south east of the country it has now reached the Dutch Garden in Holland Park where, you will be aware, all the formal beds are edged with clipped box. Treatment is specific and difficult because the insect passes through several stages from May to October. Most widely available sprays are ineffective but idverde have the product with the necessary ingredient. You might, on occasion, find the Dutch Garden closed while this work is carried out. We suggest that you do not touch the box hedges or let children touch them. We hope this treatment works but, if the caterpillar wins, we will have to replace the box with an alternative.

Photo: alamy.com

Stable Yard

Repairs are due to the leaky roof of the Stable Yard buildings that house the parks police office, park reception, sports booking office, sports changing rooms and public WCs. We await information on approval and start date. We also await news on upgrading of the public WCs, which are in a poor state.

Adventure Playground

The schedule of works we included in our summer newsletter showed that much needed work on the playground would happen in 2018. We await confirmation of approval and start date.

Jennie Kettlewell

[Autumn 2017]


Ceremony in the Fukushima Garden

The Fukushima Garden, just to the east of the Kyoto Garden, was established in Holland Park in 2012 by the Japanese to show their gratitude to the people of the UK for supporting Fukushima after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake of 2011. On 20 July, the fifth anniversary of its establishment, a ceremony took place hosted by Fukushima-Minpo Co. Ltd and the Fukushima Prefectural Association in UK whose chairman, Mr Yoshio Mitsuyama, was involved in the creation of the garden. It was called the Sister Garden Memorandum of Friendship Signing Ceremony. The signing took place in the RBKC Town Hall, in the presence, among others, of Japanese Ambassador, Mr Koji Tsuruoka; a delegation from Motomiya City in Fukushima Prefecture which included school children and ordinary citizens of the city led by its mayor, Mr Gigyo Takamatsu; the RBKC mayor, Cllr Marie-Therese Rossi; and RBKC Police Cadets.

Japanese AmbassadorAfter the signing, all moved to the Fukushima Garden where pupils of the junior high school in Motomiya and the ambassador gave speeches in Japanese and English (in which sympathy for the Grenfell Tower fire was also expressed), followed by Mayor Rossi inviting the guests to help plant a tree, a Euonymus sieboldianus or Himalayan Spindle (‘Mayumi’ in Japanese), which produces conspicuous red berries and whose leaves colour well in the autumn. Gifts were exchanged between the school children and Police Cadets. The planting was followed by a reception at the Town Hall. Friends of Holland Park who attended reported that the ceremony was a very positive experience, especially with the school children present; that there were about 100 people, largely Japanese; and that badges from Fukushima were handed out.

As a symbol of mutual support for the people of Motomiya and Kensington, the Fukushima Garden will be twinned with the English Garden in Motomiya, due to open in November.

Joy Puritz

Photo of Mr Koji Tsuruoka speaking at the ceremony by Silvi Spassov.

[Autumn 2017]

Silvi Spassov Co-opted as Trustee and Treasurer

In our last newsletter we announced that Silvi Spassov had taken on the role of Accounts Co-ordinator. This has worked so well that we asked Silvi if he would become a trustee and our Treasurer. We are delighted that he has agreed.

Silvi 2The Treasurer’s role involves oversight of the financial health of the charity, and keeping the trustees informed about the state of our finances. He will continue to handle all the day-to-day accounts and payments. Simon Lindesay-Bethune continues as Assistant Treasurer.

We have already enjoyed the benefit of Silvi’s considerable experience as a qualified accountant, having worked for many years as a PricewaterhouseCoopers consultant with client-facing roles. He has introduced new ways of doing things that make managing the data quicker and simpler, and that is a huge advantage.

Silvi lives locally, loves the park and has shown himself to be ready to help out with many of the tasks faced by the trustees. You will most likely meet him when you come to one of our events.

We are looking forward to working with Silvi as one of the trustees.

Jennie Kettlewell

[Autumn 2017]


Crab Apple Jelly

At the time of writing (early September) the one tree in the park that bears authentically bitter green crab apples was pleasingly laden, though none were yet lying within reach on the ground. Let us hope they can presently be harvested and combined with other fruit from the countryside to be metamorphosed into tangy red jelly. When you read this, do ring Rhoddy Wood on 020 7602 0304 to place your orders, as supplies are soon exhausted.

[Autumn 2017]

Annual General Meeting 2017: Report

The Friends’ AGM was held on 5 April 2017. President, Sir Angus Stirling, welcomed those present, and the minutes of the 2016 meeting were approved.

The Trustees’ Report for 2016 was presented by Andy Walker, the main points being:

•    Proposals and consultation for the improvement of the Holland House environment and café yard.

•    Restoration of the 18th-century Earl’s Court gates.

•    New and clearer directional signage in the park.

•    Approval of RBK&C’s Ten-Year Strategy for Parks, in the creation of which the Friends had played a considerable role.

•    Significant increase in the Friends’ grants to the park: total £33,142.

•    Production of two guides: ‘Decorative Art in Holland Park’ and ‘Notable Trees’.

Simon Lindesay-Bethune gave the Treasurer’s report for 2016. The balance for the financial year 2016 was £86,470: down on 2015 due to success in increasing funding to the park in 2016. Event income was down, and trustees aimed to address this issue over the coming year. The full accounts had been circulated in the spring 2017 newsletter.

The Secretary’s Report was delivered by Rhoddy Wood, who said that membership stood at 980, of whom 150 were new members, and others were expected to renew. Members were encouraged to sign up for Gift Aid and to pay by banker’s order. She thanked those members who had encouraged others to join, and also thanked the 21 members who saved the Friends ca £2,400 a year in postage by hand-delivering newsletters.

Election of the trustees. All nine trustees had agreed to stand again and were duly re-elected.

Election of the independent examiner. Roger Foreman was re-elected.

Chairman’s Outlook for 2017. Chairman, Jennie Kettlewell, emphasised that the last two years had been a period of building foundations for improvements the Friends wished to see in the park. Some of these improvements were now beginning to be realised. She was pleased to announce that new member, Silvi Spassov, had agreed to act as FHP Accounts Co-ordinator (see below). There were some interesting questions from the floor (some of which have been addressed, as will be seen in the newsletter).

Much has happened since the AGM, and this is an opportunity to update members, rather than report on the situation as it was in early April (see News Update).

[Summer 2017]

News Update

Landscaping improvement

Following Planning and Listed Building consent for Camlin Lonsdale’s plan to improve landscaping around Holland House, Blakedown Landscapes (SE) Ltd have been appointed to carry out the work. This major project will make the café yard and Holland House terrace much pleasanter spaces in which to spend time, and the re-siting of the access road to the terrace will be safer and less disruptive to café users. Much needed conservation work is proposed for the masonry of the walls and steps related to the terrace. Work will commence in late September 2017 and be completed before the opera build starts in March 2018.

Holland House conservation

At last a Condition Report on Grade-1-listed Holland House and the exterior of the East Wing has been commissioned, as required by the Conservation Management Plan for Holland House. While we await the results of the report, we hear that recent high wind has uncovered defects in the stonework, and some stones have had to be removed from the building for safety. This is as we had feared and highlights just why the Council must not allow actions determined in the Conservation Management Plan to fall behind schedule. Careful repairs were last carried out on the building in 2007-8 as a result of the property being put on Historic England’s (then English Heritage) ‘At Risk Register’. We want to see the great old structure safe and preserved so that it can be enjoyed by future generations, and do not wish to see it ‘at risk’ again.

Sustainable Drainage

You will have noticed that the path from the car park to the D Garden has been closed for some weeks in order to carry out work to channel rainwater into small overflow basins in the woodland. This is to make use of the water for the park, rather than lose surface water to the sewerage system. The path is unlikely to be open until early July.

Recycling unitsRecycling units at car park entrance

The old recycling bins were being misused and causing a mess of dumped rubbish which was not a great welcome to the park. Smart new units are now in place, with clear signage and little space between for rubbish. On the front of each is a photo of the park, supplied by The Friends with the intention of showing potential miscreants that we have a beautiful park that is not enhanced by their rubbish.

Schedule of works

There is so much work scheduled for the park in the next 18 months that Park Management have produced a helpful schedule of projects and timing (see inside back cover of newsletter).

Text and photo: Jennie Kettlewell

[Summer 2017]

Map of the Park

There was a request at our AGM for a map of Holland Park with all the places marked on it. We have produced one, and you can download it here. Please keep it; we hope you find it useful.

[Summer 2017]

Barrie Maclaurin Wins Award for Kyoto Garden

Barrie Maclaurin, former Parks Manager for the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, has been chosen to receive the prestigious Japanese Sato Award for International Exchange. This award, in memory of Mr Akira Sato, is presented to individuals and organisations for outstanding achievement in fostering exchange between Japan and other countries on the subject of parks and green spaces. The citation for the award explains just why Barrie was chosen:

Barrie Maclaurin receiving his award‘As Parks Manager for the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, London, Mr Maclaurin has greatly contributed to the promotion of cultural exchanges and mutual understanding between Japan and the UK through his work with parks and Japanese gardens. His efforts have included presenting Holland Park’s Kyoto Garden to the Emperor and Empress during their visit to the UK in May 2012; developing the new Fukushima Garden and holding its opening ceremony in July 2012; promoting cultural exchanges with elementary school children in Fukushima Prefecture’s Miharu-machi in November 2012; erecting and holding an unveiling ceremony for a stone monument bearing the words used by the Emperor to express his gratitude for the aid provided for relief activities following the Great East Japan Earthquake on 11 March 2013; and presenting the Kyoto Garden and the Fukushima Garden to the Speaker of the House Representatives Ibuki during his visit to the UK in September 2013.’

Barrie was invited to receive the award at a ceremony in Tokyo at the end of May 2017, where he was treated royally in celebration of his achievements. He will feature in Japanese media, including the Japanese publication ‘Parks and Open Space’.

Barrie is obviously delighted, and we are proud on his behalf and very grateful for all he has done to ensure Holland Park’s Kyoto and Fukushima Gardens are authentic in concept. We must ensure they remain that way.

Jennie Kettlewell

[Summer 2017]

Generous Gift Funds New Mediterranean Bed

Andrew WhiteleyAndrew Whiteley was a long-term member of The Friends and someone who not only loved trees and shrubs, but was extremely knowledgeable about them. Being a classics scholar, he knew and was very fussy about the Latin (botanical) names. When he became ill some years ago, he told me he wanted to leave money ‘for nature’. He left his ‘nature’ money to a friend and asked me to work with that friend to choose projects of which Andrew would have approved. Sadly, Andrew died in 2014, but the money has funded wonderful projects in his memory: Japanese cherry and maple trees for the redesigned Azalea Garden at Kew, a habitat study at Barnes Wetlands, some funds for The Tree Register (a record of Britain’s notable trees) and rare Rhododendrons from Wakehurst’s plant nursery for Holland Park’s Fukushima Garden.

So, what about the Mediterranean Bed in Holland Park. In recent years this 80m-long flower bed along the old brick wall on the north side of the Dutch Garden has outgrown its structure and has ‘forgotten what it is meant to be’. In spite of careful management of the bed by IdVerde, it needed a complete overhaul. A donation of just under £14,000 from Andrew’s money was made to the Friends for this purpose.

The intention is to give a structure to the planting scheme that ensures the bed will look good for many years. That structure will be provided by sizeable ‘anchor plants’, interspersed with plants of varying size, shape and texture. Predominance of evergreen species means the bed will look good in winter as well as summer. Bulbs and perennials will add some colour, but not so much that it clashes with the main attraction, the formal beds in the centre of the Dutch Garden. In keeping with the Borough Parks strategy, the planting will be sustainable in the sense that it will not need regular replacement. The microclimate of the old brick wall allows inclusion of some unusual plants from areas of the world that enjoy a Mediterranean climate. We hope it will both look beautiful and please those who follow a botanical interest, but it will be a little while before the bed is fully established. That is the nature of good gardening.

The first anchor plant in the bed is a rare Lyonothamnus floribundus (Catalina ironwood), which bears panicles of creamy-white flowers in early summer. Once the bed is planted up we will tell you about all the different plants so you can go and identify them for yourself.

Text and photos: Jennie Kettlewell

[Summer 2017]

Holland House and Café Yard: Landscaping Plan

Computer generated image of proposed cafe yardAfter a year of plans, consultation, discussion and revision, the proposal for the enhancement of the Holland House terrace, café yard and re-siting of the approach road, an application for planning consent was lodged with the Council on 27 January 2017. A number of pre-planning meetings took place to ensure that the RBK&C Planning Department felt the proposals were appropriate to the environment of Grade-1-listed Holland House.

Public consultation ran until 24 February, so by the time you read this newsletter, the proposals will have undergone a further level of scrutiny, and planning officers will be going through the process of making a decision. That decision will come before the Planning Application Committee in the second half of March.

Computer generated image of proposed Holland House TerraceWe set out in our last newsletter what we consider to be improvements to the area, and we believe all the consultation and debate has been worthwhile, as the new landscaping will make the café yard and the Holland House terrace much pleasanter spaces in which to spend time. The re-siting of the road will be safer and less disruptive to café users.

The drawings that accompany the application are the best way of showing what it will look like, and you might still be able to view the many documents on the RBK&C planning website under case No. PP/17/00353.

On the assumption that the plans are accorded consent, the work will start immediately after the 2017 opera season.

Jennie Kettlewell

[Spring 2017]