A new member of the garden team!

We recently welcomed a new member to the Jubilee Gardens team!

Paras - new member of our garden team

Paras Sanghavi completed a two-week work placement at Jubilee Gardens as part of his Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST) Future Gardeners course in the middle of June.

Paras impressed us all with his attitude and hard work during his placement which has now led to a position working with our team two days per week.

Launched in 2016, Future Gardeners is an innovative training and work experience scheme, giving participants the core skills to gain entry-level jobs in the horticulture industry without having any previous experience or specialist education. Jubilee Gardens are proud to support this scheme.

Bumper acorn crop – is 2020 a ‘mast year’?

You may have noticed a bumper crop of acorns and beech nuts in Jubilee Gardens and other parks this year, keeping the squirrels, mice and other critters happy and well-fed. It looks likely that 2020 will be declared a ‘mast year’ – one in which there is a much heavier crop of fruits and seeds such as acorns, conkers, berries or pinecones, from certain tree species than in a normal year.

Close-up of acorns and English Oak leaf - abundance in a mast year

The reasons for this aren’t fully understood, but Andrew Smith, Director of Westonbirt, The National Arboretum told Forestry England1:

“We experienced a warm and dry spring, which are the perfect conditions for flowers to ‘set’ seeds. This, along with no late frost meant that flowers and young fruit survived into summer. The warm and moist summer has meant the nuts, fruits and berries have filled out well and are continuing to ripen nicely.”

Weather and climate do have an impact, but mast years tend to occur in cycles – for Oak trees this is usually every four years according to Smith. There is a major evolutionary advantage to mast years for the tree; producing nuts and seeds requires a lot of energy and as a result slightly stunts the tree’s growth, however, with such an abundance of seeds there is an increased likelihood that at least some of the crop will germinate into new saplings.

Another theory about the reason for mast years, according to the Woodland Trust2 is ‘predator satiation’:

“Animals like squirrels, jays, mice and badgers feed on the acorns and beech nuts. When the trees produce smaller crops for a few consecutive years, they are in effect keeping the populations of these animals in check. But during a mast year, the trees produce more food than the animals can possibly eat. This abundance causes a boom in populations of small mammals like mice. More importantly, it guarantees some will be left over to survive and grow into new trees.”

Mast years are not just one-off events for individual trees. The vast majority of trees in a particular species will have a fantastic crop all across the UK in the same year. How the trees co-ordinate this when they’re so far apart is one of nature’s many mysteries.

 

Find out more about the different tree species in Jubilee Gardens here.

1https://www.forestryengland.uk/news/its-been-bumper-year-fruits-and-nuts-say-forestry-england-experts

2https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2020/10/what-is-a-mast-year/

Tree species in Jubilee Gardens

Bald Cypress tree species in Jubilee Gardens, London

There are 97 trees in Jubilee Gardens, spread mostly around the outside of the space to create a sense of enclosure and frame important views while leaving plenty of open sunny spots for visitors to enjoy. The design pays tribute to England’s rich arboricultural history – in line with tradition ‘old fashioned’ and much-loved native tree species were reintroduced alongside ornamental exotics.

The first tree of the redesigned Jubilee Gardens, a Liquidambar styraciflua (or Sweetgum), was lowered into position by a small crane on 7th February 2012. A mixture of semi-mature and young trees were planted to give immediate visual impact while also allowing the Gardens to mature and develop slowly over time.

Liquidambar tree species being planted by digger in Jubilee Gardens London

There are seven different tree species in Jubilee Gardens which were chosen to optimise biodiversity and ensure that the park provides interest all year round.

The Common Beech (Fagus sylvatica), a native tree, was selected for its contribution to biodiversity as it is a host for a variety of flora and fauna. In early spring long slender buds create a spectacular light-green hue, while the flowers are small catkins which develop small triangular beechnuts – an important food for birds, squirrels and historically also for people. The ornamental deciduous tree lives on average 150-200 years. Most of the Beech trees in Jubilee Gardens are found on the north and northeast of the park, in the areas closest to Hungerford car park.

The strangely named Bald Cypress (Taxodium districhum) is a striking species of conifer, native to south-eastern North America. It was introduced to Britain in 1640 by the famous plant hunter John Tradescant the Younger, can reach 35m tall and commonly lives over 200 years. The species was selected for its soft light, feathery foliage and orange-brown autumn colour as well as its columnar shape which distinctly contrasts with the other broadleaved spreading canopy trees in the Gardens. The Bald Cypresses are found on the south and south-east side of the park, particularly around the playground.

There are four Large Leaf Linden trees (Tilia platyphyllos), three of which are spread out along the south of the Gardens and one in the centre of the park. This beautiful native deciduous tree has a distinctive narrow domed shape and small, fragrant yellowish-white flowers in drooping clusters. The fruit is a small, round, cream-coloured nutlet while in autumn the foliage turns a striking yellow-green to yellow colour. Traditionally Tilia platyphyllos was used for various medicinal purposes including as an antispasmodic, a sedative and a treatment for migraines.

The Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) was originally from eastern North America – it had arrived in Europe by 1770 but was not recorded in Britain until after 1800. The Pin Oak was selected for several of its physical features: It has sharply pointed lobed leaves which turn reddish-brown to bright crimson in autumn, and distinct horizontal branching which provide winter interest even once all the leaves have fallen. Our Pin Oaks are mostly found in the northwestern quadrant of the gardens near the Queen’s Walk and fairground.

Jubilee Gardens is home to 18 quintessential English Oaks (Quercus robur) spread throughout the park. A much-loved large and long-lived, native deciduous tree with lobed and very short-stalked leaves, rugged branches and dark tough bark, modest flowers in mid-spring and acorns in the autumn. The English Oak is valued for its importance to insects and other wildlife and it naturally supports the highest biodiversity of insect herbivores of any British plant. The acorns form a valuable food resource for several small mammals, including our resident friendly squirrels, and some birds.

Liquidambar styraciflua, also known as Sweetgum, is a deciduous tree native to eastern North America. It was introduced into Europe in 1681 by John Banister, and first planted in the palace gardens at Fulham. The leaves are palmate, similar to those of some maples with five sharply pointed lobes, and are a glossy rich dark green colour. The leaves turn brilliant orange, red, and purple in the autumn in a conflagration of colour which unique and striking. Our Liquidambars are clustered on the middle of the north edge of the park and towards the river side of the southern edge. There are also two large specimens taking pride of place at the northern tip of the adventure playground.

Last, but not least, Jubilee Gardens has five London Plane trees (Platanus x acerifolia) which were retained from the old park when it was redeveloped in 2012. The site is surrounded by London Planes – the Queen’s Walk along the riverfront is lined with them while there are also multiple specimens on Belvedere Road and in Hungerford car park. These are popular city trees with more than half of London’s trees being London Planes. They can be identified by their grey bark which sheds leaving large patches of pale green and creamy yellow fresh wood – it does this as a response to pollution which can clog the pores of the bark. Flowers appear as small balls on long stems in spring, maturing to produce the ‘pom-pom’ seed heads which can be seen on the bare branches in winter.

We hope you enjoy the beauty of the different tree species in Jubilee Gardens this #NationalTreeWeek View images of the Gardens and some of our tree species here.

Contactless donations launched in Jubilee Gardens

Some new and unusual friends have recently appeared in Jubilee Gardens to keep our resident grey squirrels company.

These new blue residents are guarding acorn-shaped contactless donation points where Garden visitors can make an instant £2 donation to help keep our green oasis looking beautiful all year round. The squirrels say thank you in their own inimitable way too.

Run by local charity the Jubilee Gardens Trust, in normal times the park is enjoyed by over seven million visitors every year. It is also the most used green space for residents and local workers in the area. With trees, plants and outdoor spaces being so essential to our health and well-being, donations will help maintain and enrich the Gardens for all the residents, workers, students and visitors who love our nature-filled sanctuary on the South Bank.

Blue squirrel sculpture sitting on contactless donation point in Jubilee Gardens  Blue squirrel sculpture sitting on contactless donation point in Jubilee Gardens

The unique and innovative squirrel donation posts were designed by interdisciplinary designer Lara Farnham who works across a broad spectrum of sectors; from public realm to high-end luxury, retail to exhibition, leisure and large-scale developments.

Lara said about her designs:

Portrait of designer Lara Farnham

‘I thought it would be nice to give something back when people donate. The squirrels cheekily ask you to tap to donate and thank you once you do it. Squirrels are playful, energetic and considered a little wise in some cultures; just right for the Gardens. When they glow in the darkness they are also reaching out to those walking by.’



 

Playground reopens 12 noon until 6pm daily

Jubilee Gardens reopening opening times and keep 2m distance

We’re delighted to announce that the Jubilee Gardens adventure playground reopens today, Thursday 1st October.

Now open from 12 noon until 6 pm every day until further notice.

Please use hand sanitiser before entering and when leaving the playground, and follow the rules which are clearly signposted to help keep everyone safe.

But most of all, welcome back and have some fun!