Friars Gardens - Park of the Month for June
The Perfect Pocket Park - Friars Gardens
Friars Gardens, June's Park of the Month is very different to the previous Parks featured. Ealing Parks Foundation has chosen it as a very good example of a Community Park that enhances the lives of local people - for those that help maintain it, enjoy sitting and strolling in it, and for the children who play in it.
Previously this small triangle of land - known as an amenity green space - in St Dunstan's Avenue North Acton - was an unloved space with scrubby grass, muddy tracks and some trees. Friars Gardens and its sister green St Dunstan’s Gardens were originally part of the Goldsmith’s Estate and are officially designated Public Open Space and as such the Council has the responsibility to carry out basic maintenance. Today, thanks to the efforts of the community who applied for and won a 'Transform Your Space' award in 2016 it is an urban delight.
Of course transforming a space is one thing, but keeping it looked after is another and this is where the local community come in. Today Friars Gardens features mature trees , an adventure trail, a bug hotel and three wildflower mini-meadows. Around the perimeter of the garden are 30 espaliered apple trees and in the southern area of the park a plum tree. The refurbishment project undertaken in 2018 improved accessibility, so that there are now a couple of easy-to-open gates and a path that winds through the trees. In addition to a couple of benches, the pink sandstone rocks of the adventure trail provide extra, natural seating.
Following the conception of the idea by local residents (a number of whom were keen gardeners) the design was further developed between 2016 - 2018 by the Parks Development Manager with a colleague. The Friends Group commented: ‘We so enjoyed working with them and were absolutely delighted with how they listened so closely to our needs and came up with creative solutions. The final concept is genius,’ 'The adventure trail for kids is cleverly integrated into the planting and the design works on so many different levels,’. ‘It is a tranquil space, where you can sit on a rock amongst flowers, but at the same time it is also suitable for children to scramble over.’
Local residents have remarked that you hardly ever saw children playing in the green, but now it is regularly used by kids, but also a wide variety of people from a man who energetically does sit-ups against a rock to a wheel-chair user out for some fresh-air.
So if you want to see a very different type of Park, or want inspiration for your own community space do pay a visit
Previously an unwelcoming space and hard to open gates for access
Work in progress