Kennington Park Flower Garden lies within the Grade II registered Kennington Park in South London which was originally opened in 1854. The Flower Garden was laid out in 1931 as the park’s horticultural highlight, based on the concept of an Old English flower garden developed by Lieut. Col. J.J. Sexby of the London County Council in the 1890s. Today the park has a huge potential audience and Oval Underground Station is only a five-minute walk away.
The site had become severely rundown and was not fulfilling its full potential for the people of Lambeth. The project has revived the neglected and run-down flower garden, with its 1930s heritage as the basis of the scheme, thus creating a new resource for all generations to enjoy. The high degree of consultation meant that the community became involved with the garden, and took an interest in the meticulous research and a new pride in the history of the garden.
Approximate Map Location
London Borough of Lambeth
|Type of scheme|
Heritage and conservation
Parks and gardens
Highly commended LI Awards 2016
Kennington Park Flower Garden lies within the Grade II registered Kennington Park in South London which was originally opened in 1854 and is included in the EH Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest as a Grade II listed park. The Flower Garden was laid out in 1931 as the parks horticultural highlight, based on the concept of an Old English Flower Garden concept developed by Lieut. Col. J.J. Sexby of the London County Council in the 1890s. Today the park has a huge potential audience and Oval Underground Station is only a 5 minute walk away.
The site had become severely rundown and was not fulfilling its full potential for the people of Lambeth. The purpose of this project was to revive the neglected and run-down Flower Garden, with its 1930s heritage as the basis of the scheme, thus creating a new resource for all generations to enjoy.
Landscape practice: LUC; client: Lambeth Council; client partner: Friends of Kennington Park; quantity surveyor: Huntley Cartwright; conservation architect: Rees Bolter; engineer: The Morton Partnership; CDM co-ordinator: Brian Bulfin Associates; landscape contractor: Gavin Jones
Through this project Lambeth Council has successfully created a flagship project. The feedback received from the public gave an indication of how much they value this project and how much they enjoy this restored aspect of the park. This sense of belonging also stems from the close collaboration in the design and implementation with local stakeholders. The pride of the community in their park is very strong and we believe this project has been highly significant in increasing their health and wellbeing.
The time, thought and consultation that went into the project from LI Stage C onwards has resulted in beautifully restored garden, the Flower Garden and wider park has a captivating history which was explored and interpreted and was central to the restoration strategy. As a consequence the restoration has increased the public’s knowledge and appreciation of this history via interpretation panels at key entrances to the Flower Garden.
The overall aim of the project was to restore the Flower Garden as the horticultural high light of Kennington Park, whilst celebrating its heritage and recreating an attractive garden for the use of all generations. The key aims of the restoration strategy were as follows:
The archive photographs illustrate a scheme which in its original form was planted primarily with annual bedding, a design solution which was clearly unsustainable in the current economic climate and continuing cuts in local government budgets. There were no historic planting plans, just the term ‘Old English Garden’ which was originally used on the layout plans. LUC prepared a number of planting concepts for the garden which were all designed to be low maintenance whilst offering colour and interest at all times of year, with the peak period being May to October when park usage is at its greatest.
The final scheme consists primarily of herbaceous perennials, many thousands of plants designed to provide a long and varied flowering period, on the basis that a ‘flower garden’ should offer an extended flower season.
Shrub planting is used selectively for example white hydrangeas provide bulk at the back of shady borders, whilst the evergreen domes of Hebes are interspersed with grasses and ferns amongst the more herbaceous material.
A line of new ornamental hawthorn trees and a number of flowering dogwoods provide height. Aquatic irises and water-lilies bring life to the small restored pond, and a variety of scented roses, climbing and shrub, and clematis add vertical interest. A new holly hedge provides boundary definition, replacing an ugly close-boarded and metal fences abutted the attractive pavilion.
The planting concentrates on the use of species and cultivars of herbaceous plants that are excellent pollinators, therefore generally plants with double or multi-petalled flowers are excluded. This design decision was made to facilitate the presence of BeeUrban within yards of the Flower Garden. BeeUrban is a honeybee-centric social enterprise which aims to positively influence the urban environment through supporting local people and promoting positive, ecologically sound practice around urban greening, building, farming and particularly bee-keeping. They operate eight bee hives in Kennington Park and have built a training centre – named the Bee Barn – out of recycled materials which is a hub for beekeeping activities and other community environmental projects.