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Friends of Greenwich Park


May Bulletin

THE sun is out, finally, and the Sancho Cafe is buzzing with locals meeting friends and enjoying a coffee in the gardens. The cafe is fast becoming a community hub, as everyone had hoped, says Park Manager Clare Lanes.
She told the Friends AGM at the West Greenwich Library this week that the cafe was a great success, always busy. The black surfaces around the new area have been replaced with 'tar and chip' gravel, which is much more pleasing and in keeping with the rest of the Park.
Clare said that work is now under way to transform the Blackheath Gate into a welcoming entrance, and this should be completed in around a month. Tarmac is being removed to create green spaces incorporating biodiverse planting and new trees. "Visitors will walk down through an avenue of trees, which is as it should be," said Clare.
She told the AGM that the Grand Ascent work was nearly there and the grass had taken so well she had to reassure visitors: "It's not astroturf...  it's so green."
The Wolfe Statue area should be ready to reopen in the first week of June. There will be up to 20 interpretation panels around the Park by July, telling the stories of different areas such as Queen Caroline's Bath and the Grand Ascent. Last, but by no means least, Clare reassured us all that the deer will return in March 2025.

In the Park this month... cool Camassias 
Head Gardener Tom Brown writes: With Spring drawing to a close, late flowering bulbs like Camassia give us a final display before the summer show begins.
It would be worth checking out our newly planted Edwardian border and renovated north border. We have replanted some Irises but have introduced a collection of different Lilies, Agapanthus and Alstroemerias as well as replanting the Peonies; they will all be in bloom very soon.
The Edwardian border will need some time to establish but it won’t be long before this ‘hot room’ is out in full force. It is also the time of year for the summer bedding to be planted so watch out for some new exotics to Greenwich like Ipomea lobata and Dicksonia squarosa.
Finally, take time to visit the Chesterfield Gate area where we will soon be planting up our new Stumpery in the Dell. We will have conservation volunteers working alongside the gardeners in a joint effort to deliver what looks to be a unique addition to the Park.

Meet Jack - our poet-in-residence
THE Park is an inspiration to all of us, but none more so than Jack Cooper.
Jack is a science communicator with a background in biological research, and is our newly elected, first-ever poet-in-residence. He works for Imperial College London's Fleming Initiative and has done freelance science communications work with the Science Museum and Poetry Society. For two years, he led on production 
of the Zero Pressure podcast for Imperial College London, a relaxed conversation with those on the cutting edge of science and technology, hosted by Dr Helen Sharman, Britain's first astronaut.
His poetry has been discussed on BBC Radio 4, translated into Czech and Romanian, performed at the V&A and commissioned by the Science Museum.
His debut poetry pamphlet, "Break the Nose of Every Beautiful Thing" (Doomsday Press), received the Society of Authors' Eric Gregory Award in 2022.
Jack says he is very grateful to the Friends for his first stint as a poet-in-residence! Aside from selfishly looking forward to a year of inspiration, he plans to: lead poetry workshops; inspire local people to write about the Park (potentially to be released in an anthology); write new poems about Park landmarks, history, wildlife, and anything else that catches his eye; perform at events when requested, and explore the possibility of doing archival work to identify past poems that mention the Park.
Do let Jack know if you have any suggestions!
You can read selected poems, watch interviews, and explore Jack's past projects here.
If you are interested in learning more, email info@friendsofgreenwichpark.org.uk, citing Poetry group. 

Don't miss out on Midsummer Jazz
TICKETS are selling fast for our Midsummer Jazz concert. It takes place in the Observatory Garden on June 16 from 12.30pm to 3pm and will feature the South London Jazz Orchestra, who delivered a stomping performance last year. Tickets are just £5 and can be bought here.
The Friends' bandstand concert series will run on Sundays from June 30 until August 25, finishing on Bank Holiday Monday, August 26. Please spread the word with a concert flyer in your window or pass one on to a friend. You can download the flyer here.
Something in the way we move...
LOOSEN up with free Tai Chi and Tango lessons in the Park from next month.
Tai Chi will start from June 15 by the bandstand and Tango lessons go ahead on the same day but slightly later, in the Wolfe Statue area. Booking is necessary for these, so sign up via the Arts Trust website here
The Park is holding  an Open Day at the new Learning Centre on Saturday, May 25, from 10am to 3pm. There will be lots of activities for visitors, who will be able to see the new indoor and outdoor facilities, including a learning pond and nature trail. The centre is in the Flower Garden, by the recently restored lake. 
Bird walks
JULIA Holland will lead the next Bird Walk on May 26. Meet at the Blackheath Gate at 8.30am. There is no need to book, but bring binoculars if you have them. The walks last approximately two hours. 

The Royal Observatory - into the future 
A MAJOR project aims to transform the Royal Observatory, the birthplace of modern astronomy and the "home of time".
Building on the foundations of 350 years of scientific research and excellence, Royal Museums Greenwich is embarking on the project to reaffirm this special place as the centre for the public understanding of astronomy and measurement of time. 
The plans include:  a new visitor welcome and entrance; a unified site and narrative – connecting the themes of space and time underpinned by astronomy; renewed stories and galleries; conservation works; improved physical access to the site and collections; better access to knowledge about astronomy through galleries, displays and programmes.   
You can find details of the plans, and comment on them, here.

A blooming lovely weekend
FOR all those who love horticulture, make sure you have the Open Gardens weekends in your diary.
At least 38 gardens will be open to the public over the weekend of June 8/9 and 22/23 in aid of the Greenwich & Bexley Hospice. Gardens are scattered throughout Blackheath, Greenwich East and West and Charlton with a couple of outliers in Eltham and Lee. Last year the event raised a record £23,000. Buy tickets and find all the details here.

Photography group, developing nicely
THE newly-reformed Photography Group goes from strength to strength. The number of members has increased to 16 and there is much enthusiasm and collaboration, says co-leader Ian Welsby.
The group met last weekend and took photos around the Flower Garden. Themes were finding often overlooked detail in trees and flora. This involved using both macro techniques and also repeatedly photographing the same subject from different perspectives. The Learning Centre came into its own as a space to allow members to get to know one another and to share photographic views, knowledge and skills. 
Members were signposted to the Royal Parks Photography Competition entry form and the Friends' photo calendar was highlighted as an end-of-year goal. Possible collaboration with the Royal Parks staff to document events or changes was also proposed. If you are interested in joining, email info@friendsofgreenwichpark.org.uk, citing Photography Group

 Brian Alcock, a true Friend
The Friends are sad to report the death of Brian Alcock, who has delivered our newsletter in the Royal Standard/Shooters Hill area for very many years.
Brian, who died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 62, was also a a volunteer in the Rose Garden, drove the mobility buggy, and helped with the archaeological digs.
Greenwich Park played an important part in his life, alongside foreign travel and playing the guitar. On most days he would either walk or cycle through the Park to and from work – he was a Train Captain on the DLR – often stopping to rest and enjoy the view from One Tree Hill or Observatory Hill.
He will be much missed.