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Newsletter – April 2024

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Newsletter – April 2024

Dear Friends,

Spring opened its doors early this year, though now it doesn’t seem quite sure whether to come or go. Still, our intensive bulb planting is paying off splendidly, the daffodils covered entire parts of the prom in their zingy yellow, the tulips put on a show like never before, and nature generally cloaks itself in a faint veil of fresh green. The prom in spring has turned into a colourful magnet again, enjoyed by many a promenader who stops by for a neighbourly chat when they see us out in full force.

March highlights

  • We finally finished the new wood chip trail which snakes through the woodland area next to the Bandstand Garden. Originally imagined as an invitation for kids to come off the tarmac and explore nature, we spotted many grown-ups there too. Isn’t there is a child in all of us? What joy to see how our new feature is embraced and discovered by so many. Special thanks to Clive and Phil who designed its shape; to Michael who chopped, sawed and hammered many a wooden peg along the path; to Julian and Dasha who rolled out the membrane and to Jeeva and Graham who put in their daily 10,000 steps to wheelbarrow the large woodchip pile along it. We have also started to place woodland plants beside it, amongst them hundreds of English bluebells (thank you Sally and Richard), snowdrops (thank you Vivienne), cyclamen (thank you Val) and sweet woodruff (thank you Malcolm). More planting will be added so that this area’s character will grow further over time.

The extensions of both the Raven’s View Garden and the Italian Garden have received their new plants. We added about 200 drought tolerant plants, having learned what worked well in the areas from last year’s planting. Now bring on summer for a complete display!

The notorious Spaghetti Junction is slowly but surely losing its tons of the dreaded bindweed. Come rain or shine, we kept going at digging what turned out to be a much tougher job than expected. Everyone who has stuck a fork in there, and tried to untangle its devilish underworld, knows full well what a back-breaking work it is. A huge THANK-YOU goes out to all diligent and patient helpers, including a group of young Duke of Edinburgh teenagers on a rather lousy Saturday morning.

Numerous other jobs got done in March as well, be they thistle-weeding (thank you Linda), tools maintenance (thank you Graham), prettifying the Pocket Park with a truly imaginative daffodil wicker armchair (thank you Julian), cutting back ornamental grasses (thank you Pauline and Cecilia) or rejuvenating our wildflower patch (thank you Vivienne). The Duke of Edinburgh students also built a stag beetle loggery in the Woodland Garden, a first on the prom.

With great joy and gratitude, I received the Mayor’s Community Award. Twelve exceptional individuals were chosen this year who all have done amazing work for our community and neighbourhood. In 2021, Julian, our founder, received the award for his foresight and energy to set up our voluntary group, create the Pocket Park and manoeuvre us through a pandemic. From there, it’s been my privilege to keep us going strong and expanding, create a number of beautiful garden areas and cajole RBK Council into serious infrastructure repair work currently in preparation (toilet and retaining walls). Thank you Madame Mayor and Cllr Sweeney!

You may recall the concept of our Sensory Garden being an element in an audio-guided tour along the promenade for the visually impaired. The garden is in place and much liked by the community. The audio guide was researched by local historian Dr David Kennedy and authored by GoodLife editor Tim Harrison. It has just been formally launched by the Kingston Association for the Blind. When you next go for a walk from the market square to the Surbiton end of the promenade, do listen to its half-hour story, it is well worth it: Queen’s Promenade Guided Walk (kingstonassociationforblind.org).

Finally, after all that March activity, we had good reason to cut a cake on 23 March, to celebrate QPF’s 5th birthday. We had some delicious home-made sweet and savoury home-made food, enjoyed with a good old cuppa. Happy birthday Queen’s Promenade Friends!

April in focus at QPF

With the clocks having changed, we are also switching our volunteering times to our summer timetable:

  • Wednesdays 14:00 – 17:00
  • Saturdays 10:00 – 13:00

The upheaval at ‘Spaghetti Junction’ will have to continue. We are nearing its end in the narrow triangle, but the much larger area further up around the Queen’s tree unfortunately still awaits. Bindweed (calystegia sepium) is a persistent, twining weed that outcompetes large shrubs and even small trees for light and nutrients. Physically digging up areas where bindweed has colonised is the first stage though; we’ll only seriously replant the areas when we are happy that all the bindweed roots have been removed, which means monitoring it during the rest of the year.

At the end of the woodland trail in the Bandstand Garden, we will install a wooden arch. RBK is happy for this striking new feature to be added as an attraction, up which we’ll grow attractive climbing plants. Local craftsman Tom Hooker is currently assembling the structure and we’ll collectively erect it in its chosen place very soon. And so Clive’s imaginative idea will draw yet more kids, and adults, along our nature trail.

  • Have you sown your sunflowers yet? If not, do join in the preparation for our sunflower festival. It’s not too late yet, here is the list of preferred varieties:
    • Titan / Giant Single – giant dinner plates / platters
    • Autumn Beauty – warm, earthy-toned blooms
    • Claret / Chocolate – chocolate brown ones
    • Lemon – zingy light lemon ones
    • Tiger Eye – yellow petal with a deep-red inner ring

New joiners

A warm welcome to Suman who recently signed up to join our community and already volunteered with us. Your gardening skills are very welcome, as are your delicious homemade onion bhajis. Equally, a warm welcome back to Miranda and Rod after their winter get-away in native HongKong.

Last but not least

If other members haven’t worked with us for a while, or always wanted to but never quite found the time, please don’t be shy. Keen interest, some skills and energy are all that is needed. Please bring some gardening gloves and a mug. We hope you enjoy it.

Please remember to check our various social media sites for regular updates. For any donations to the Queen’s Promenade Friends please see our QR code below or contact us directly

Looking forward to seeing you on the promenade.

Stefan

Chairman, Queen’s Promenade Friends

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