It doesn’t look it yet, but this patch of ground that looks like it’s been used by the local horse riding society is going to become London’s newest pocket park.
The big trees are already a long term tenant of the area, but what used to be here was a flat uninspiring oval of brown gravel infill that looked pretty bleak, even when the trees were doing their best.
Last week though, the gravel was removed, a lot of fresh topsoil added and a range of new plants added. At the moment, it doesn’t look like much, unless you’re a local, in which case it already looks a huge improvement on what was there before.
However, the planting is more than just a load of bushes randomly dropped onto the plot.
Planting has followed the complex ‘Miyawaki’ methodology, which designs four ‘layers’ – shrubs, sub-trees, trees and a canopy – with at least three trees planted per sq metre.
The centre of the oval plot has also been built up with soil to elevate the middle planting above the height of the bedding plants around the sides.
The native plants have been selected based on flora and fauna research, a soil survey and vegetation report. Chelsea’s Heritage Forest will see species such as Red Campion flowers, Sessile Oak, Hawthorn and a forest floor dense with shrubbery and wildflowers to create a habitat for at least 80 species of insect. By using this variety of native species, the pocket park will also require less maintenance and watering, alleviating the need for pesticides and artificial plant foods.
It might not look it yet, but there’s 630 trees and shrubs in this 240 square metre space, and will come next spring look a lot more exciting. Apart from the aesthetic and biodiversity benefits, planting of this sort also lowers the local temperature during the summer months, so less need for air conditioning in the houses around it.