Thursday, 23 September 2010

Parks, deck chairs, pavilions and the prince

You can find many things in London Parks. Some things are quite unexepected: a group of Scottish country dancers at a bandstand in Kensington Gardens, kilts and all, a couple of Saturdays ago. And this weekend I heard the Pope was in Hyde Park...
Some things are expected: deck chairs. If you were inclined to spend a lot of time watching out for random park eccentricities, you can buy a Deck Chair season ticket; £40 if you you're a student, oap, or a family; £100 if you are none of the above. Otherwise normal charges apply: £1.50 for up to an hour, £4 for up to 3 hours and £7 for the day. You'd only have to spend two weeks between March and October sitting on your backside in Green Park every day to make a season ticket worthwhile. I may invest in one next year.
Alternatively you could go and sit for free in the gorgeous Red Pavilion at the Serpentine Gallery - well, you are asked to make a donation of £1.50, but that covers the exhibition too (Wofgang Tillmans just ended - some beautiful close-up plant photography amongst other things). The pavilion is there until 17 October and is really worth a visit on a sunny afternoon when the red translucent structure glows in the light. There's some great red planting too - chards and basils with cannas and crocosmias. It's very hot.
Right next door to the Green Park deck chairs, HRH Prince of Wales opened up Clarence House and its neighbouring palaces for a week or so for the so-called Garden Party to Make a Difference. While it was a good excuse to have a peek inside this otherwise closed garden - quite nice, formal borders, as you would expect, but not exceptionally inspiring, all the various eco themed displays (and some atrocious dancing) were a distraction. They didn't make me want to go home and change all my non-renewable lightbulbs and insulate my loft with sheep's wool and the whole thing seemed to be sponsored by big corporate retailers known by their initials (M&S and B&Q) trying to PR their carbon footprints.  The garden part had been curated by El Titchmarsh, and there were some inspiring displays of growing veg in small spaces (see above) - including a recreation of the St Quentin's Avenue gardens I visited earlier this summer, the Skip Garden at King's Cross, which is on my list to vist, and some quite attractive recycled overwintering homes for insects. Overall, I was not in a very receptive mood the day I went, but even so, I'm fairly convinced it's not going to become an annual event.


  1. When my husband gor transferred to London, I was very sad to leave my garden behind. We could not afford a flat with outdoor space, but to my surprise I did not miss my garden (too much), as you said, London has so much green space to offer. I use to walk through Kiensington Gardens and Hyde Park on my way to work at Harrods every day. There was always something beautiful and interesting to see.

  2. Oh I love the red pavillion at the Serpentine Gallery! I was there just the other day...

  3. Hello Kilbournegrove - your walk through the park to work sounds like one of the nicest commutes in London!
    Amy - did you like all the edible plants? I wonder if the serpentine staff get to take them home to eat...