Gardening

The orchard of St. James’s Park in London

Hello to all gardeners! As you can see, Lucia made me very envious (healthy, yes) with her trip to English lands and for this reason I have also traveled there to tell you something more about urban gardening in London . Specifically, today I am going to talk about an orchard that is located in a very famous park in London such as St. James’s Park.

St. James’s Park is an area of ​​23 hectares in the Westminster area of central London, the oldest of the Royal Parks  in the city. It is a very touristy park as it is surrounded by  Buckingham Palace  to the west,  The Mall and St. James Palace to  the north, Horse Guards to the east, and Bridcage Walk to the south; In addition, a few meters away is the famous Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and, a little further up, Trafalgar Square. But, apart from its location, St. James’s Park is famous because, in my opinion, it has a special charm .Its lake full of waterfowl , including a population of friendly pelicans as a gift from a Russian Ambassador… yes, yes, huge pelicans in central London! ; its gardens and lawns full of people sunbathing as soon as it brings out some of its long-awaited rays in these latitudes, its views: on one side Buckingham Palace, on the other House Guard and in the background The London Eye … but, For me, and I am sorry I am not very objective, one of the key aspects that give St. James that cute touch , as they would say around there, is Duck Island Cottage , where, as you can imagine, our orchard today is located.

A little bit of history …

Duck Island Cottage, is a picturesque country house in the heart of London,  a place that has long been a refuge for many waterfowl. Birds of various kinds, both native and foreign, have been kept here since 1612, in an aviary along what is now Birdcage Walk .

In 1532, the famous  Henry VIII bought the area where the park is located today , which at that time was a swampy marsh. When Jacobo I ascended to the throne in 1603, he ordered that it be drained and landscaped, and he used it as a “zoo” , since he used to keep exotic animals that brought him as presents mainly from trips to the colonies, among which there were camels, crocodiles, and an elephant, as well as various exotic birds.

It was Charles II who created the position of ‘Governor of Duck Island’ and William III who had the first guardhouse built. Despite being described at the time as one of the most charming summer retreats imaginable ” or ” a miniature paradise , it was destroyed in 1771 and rebuilt after 1840, thanks to the London Ornithological Society who demanded that it be rebuild a shelter for the bird keeper. It was the architect John Burges Watson who designed Duck Island Cottage as we know it today. Watson produced a small, irregular, Swiss-inspired cottage to contrast with the increasingly monumental architecture of the government offices that were erected around Whitehall.

The last bird keeper lived at Duck Island Cottage from 1900 to 1953. After his death, the house was deemed unsuitable for use as a dwelling and was abandoned . Demolition seemed inevitable, but as it was a construction so deeply rooted in the hearts of Londoners and therefore in the public eye, it was agreed that The Royal Fine Art Commission should be consulted before its destruction. , which, fortunately, urged the preservation of Duck Island Cottage , allowing residents and visitors to the metropolis to continue to enjoy this magnificent setting.

The Duck Island Cottage orchard in St. James’s Park

In 1994 Duck Island Cottage became the headquarters of the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust , a society charged with the protection and improvement of parks and gardens throughout London . In one of those improvement plans they decided to create a garden around the cabin. 

The garden has everything: beets, artichokes , cabbages, strawberries, lettuce , chard , zucchini … In addition to a wide collection of aromatics to ward off pests and flowers to attract pollinators . I was very struck by some bean plants with the orange flower, I had never seen them like this, and from what I have been able to find out, it is the painted purple bean plant. You will never go to bed without learning anything new.

Focusing the decoration around Duck Island Cottage towards horticulture was a very appropriate choice, as St. James’s Park is now the best and most influential place in central London to see this trend of bringing agriculture closer to the city grow that has been happening in London for years.

I hope you liked the article and, you know, if you travel to London, don’t forget to look for the orchard in St. James’s Park. Until next time!

Related posts

Deja una respuesta

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *

Botón volver arriba