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SW London
A semi-mature, hardy individual who tries to get away with doing as little as possible in gardening as in life, still expects the best results & wonders why she is frequently disappointed! She likes to keep a photographic record of everything, good & frequently bad!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Capability Brown swings…..


….and slides and has a climbing frame.

I am talking about my local park here, just a couple of streets away, loved by many local & not so local families for its play areas, bowling green, lake, Sunday football, athletics track, wooded area, tennis courts, cafe & perhaps not so loved when it is used for car parking during Wimbledon fortnight. It is used by many different groups of people all year & although the planting & landscaping are nothing to write home about it is green & a fantastic leisure facility.

I frequently walk through the park to work & took the photos last year 

So dear reader, where does Capability Brown fit into this I can hear you shouting ? I hope you are still there? I can’t keep talking to myself now can I?

Well, a history lesson here. The original park comprised the grounds of Wimbledon Park House, the seat of the manor of Wimbledon. A number of different owners had enlarged the park & by the 19th century it was at its largest extent, and one of the homes of the Earls Spencer, lords of the manor.

It was the 1st Earl Spencer, was only 12 years old when he inherited the title, who carried out many ‘good works’ toward Wimbledon Park. And it was he who  commissioned Capability Brown in 1765 to turn the Wimbledon Park valley from being semi-marshland into a grassy parkland populated by oaks with its main feature being a sizable lake by constructing a dam across a brook that flows from near Wimbledon Common down to the River Wandle.

In 1846, the 4th Earl Spencer sold the estate and house to John Augustus Beaumont a property developer who laid out new roads and sold plots of land for house building.  Development of the area continued throughout the second half of the 19th century, gradually nibbling away at the parkland resulting in the park as it is today with it’s adjacent area of housing, also known as Wimbledon Park.

The modern park was bought by the Borough of Wimbledon just before the First World War and is now the only remnant of that former, larger park.

Just beside the lake there has always been a sad bit of a waterfall, a remnant of the original design but never working.This is what it looked like after a clean-up.Waterfall02

Recently however there have been developments!



071076 What do you think? What would Capability Brown have thought?

I think it certainly has the potential to be an attractive addition to the park but my concern is the ability to keep the area looking attractive & allow the plants to mature & fill out. Although I am an optimist I can only see children running & cycling over the beds as well as the paths & climbing on the logs at the edge. Merton Council is not among the most well off of London Boroughs & like all others is having to make financial cut-backs. There was recently a proposal that they would not lock any of their parks overnight in order to save money. That is no longer the case but indicates  the severity of the problem.

We will see……….

***The crocuses at the top are not from Wimbledon Park but Wisley a couple of weeks ago!


  1. I think the waterfall garden looks a mess. The modern looking cut log poles don't gel with the old stones. I preferred the sad waterfall pic but I guess it will all look better when its 'aged' a bit and the planting has fattened up.

  2. It does look glaringly new at the moment. I am just a bit worried it won't get the chance to age & fatten!