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Newsletter – February 2024

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Newsletter – February 2024

Dear Friends,

While most of nature is near dormant, and the outline of trees, shrubs and flower beds are much clearer, it is a perfect time to shape new ideas. This has been our main theme for January, be that the further uncovering of the Victorian terraces or the new trail through the shrubland next to our Bandstand Garden. Briefly, the river raised its level so much that some of the prom was flooded, but luckily none of our hard work was affected.

January highlights

Both our extension projects have completed their preparation phases: our existing Raven’s View Garden is now connected all the way south to Catherine Road entrance, the shrubs have had a winter pruning, the bamboo got a haircut, a huge dead tree stump is finally dug up and the soil tilled over in readiness for spring planting.

Likewise, the Italian Garden extension north has revealed more terracing and now found its natural end. Many sessions of dedicated hard work was needed to clear a thicket of roots and even transfer some excess soil. Come March we will source plants to link the Garden visually to St Raphael’s Church, to become a proud terraced garden for many years to come.

Meanwhile, the new woodland trail path between the Bandstand Garden and the toilet block has been outlined. This area which hitherto lacked any real identity is beginning to develop character and interest. Next month we will fix the outline edges properly and fill the path with wood chips.

Finally, and most beautifully, the first colour has returned to the prom in the form of hundreds of zingy cyclamens. They provide such early seasonal joy for us humans as well as nectar for wildlife. And have you spotted those gorgeous arctic bell narcissi? Don’t they just tease us all for the great daffodil and tulip displays to come, after planting thousands of bulbs over the previous autumns.

February in focus at QPF

With the two extensions prep out of the way, and before nature starts to stir again, we will complete the structural work in the woodland section next to Bandstand. If time allows, we should also continue clearing the flower beds north of Ginger Bees Cafe. Some of that area has been lovingly (?!) named Spaghetti Junction due to it being carelessly overrun with a bindweed and thistle infestation. Strictly speaking, by consensual agreement with Glendale, this area isn’t really under our management. Yet the annually returning weed horror show has proven to require a lot more focused attention; so let’s lend our skilled hands and remove what we can before they start growing again. It would also create a clean slate for some attractive and useful planting schemes here.

Surbiton Farmers Market, a strong supporter of our group, has kindly offered us their charity stand. As their chosen Charity of the Month, we will use this opportunity to engage with the community, display our achievements and discuss upcoming projects and ideas with any interested market shoppers. Do come along on Saturday, 17 February, we’ll be there from 9:00 until 13:00.

Following on from the Townscape Award ceremony last November, the Kingston Society has asked us to return to their monthly event on Wednesday, 21 February, at 19:30 (Tiffin School, Lecture Hall). We will be presenting QPF in more detail and setting out our vision and plans. As the Mayor of Kingston so poignantly put it in her message to our AGM, the promenade is once again becoming a jewel in Kingston’s crown. It is of course the result of every volunteer’s effort, in whatever way, to make Kingston a better place, and seeking engagement and dialogue with the community is key. We are looking forward to an evening full of ideas, imagination and discussion.

New joiners

A warm welcome to Irina and Ben who recently signed up to join our community. Please do come to one of our volunteer sessions and find out more. Welcome also to Esther and her friend Bella, who joined our group as part of their Duke of Edinburgh award scheme. It’s fantastic to see young people showing an interest in nature and gardening, of course we will support and nurture any interest in the plant world, wildlife and biodiversity, whilst getting muddy hands and shoes!

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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