Holland Park is located in Kensington, just on the west side of Central London. There aren’t any official park boundaries but to the south there is Kensington High Street, to the north Holland Park Avenue, to the east Kensington Church Street and to the west there is Holland Road. Holland Park is listed as a Grade 2 park in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.
The northern half of Holland Park is semi-wild woodland, the southern section is used for sports and the middle has areas of formal gardens. In total, the park is around 55 acres in size, which is 22 hectares.
The park has some buildings too. Holland House is, unfortunately, a ruin as it was bombed during World War II. However, the remains of Holland House are the backdrop to Holland Park Theatre, which is an open-air theatre. There is also a café, restaurant and orangery. If you fancy staying inside the park, there is a youth hostel too.
In terms of entertainment, there are tennis courts, a cricket pitch, a giant chess set and a children’s playground. The park also has two Japanese Gardens. The first is the Kyoto Garden, which was created in 1991, and the second is the Fukushima Memorial Garden, which was created in 2012.
2013 saw the creation of the Holland Park Ecology Centre. This is a great centre that offers all sorts of education programs such as talks, nature walks, outdoor activity programs and school programs.
History of Holland Park
Until the 19th century, this area was rural. Holland Park acquired its name due to being the former grounds of Holland House, a Jacobean mansion. Towards the end of the 1800s, the landowners sold off some of the grounds to become residential developments.
Notable Trees in Holland Park
Situated at the west side of the pond is Lime Tree Avenue. This was planted in 1876 by the 4th Lady Holland. The trees that stand along Lime Tree Avenue are no longer the originals. Many were lost during the storms of October 1987 and all have now been replaced.
There is a great booklet that has been produced by The Friends of Holland Park and the Ecology Centre. It contains a guided walk that takes you past 48 notable trees in Holland Park. There is a map showing the location of each tree and drawings of leaves and other features. Nina Barranca, a Friend of Holland Park, is a professional botanical artist so the drawings are extremely accurate and beautiful. The booklet also contains an introduction to the park, its history, past tree planting and topography. This was written by Letta Jones who is a garden historian.
The Friends of Holland Park is a registered charity and local community group who work tirelessly for the park. They are dedicated to preserving, protecting and improving Holland Park. For example, one Friend, Andrew Whitely, made a checklist of all the tree species located in Holland Park. This is no mean feat! He has listed 400 trees with their approximate locations and has found over 250 different tree species in the park.
Holland Park – The Tree Strategy
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea have a Tree Strategy that covers the trees in the park. The aim of this Tree Strategy is to control tree planting, tree preservation and tree maintenance using the best arboricultural practices from tree professionals and tree specialists.
Holland Park is the largest and most well-known park in the Royal Borough and so the Tree Strategy has an important place here. The trees of Holland Park offer a uniquely rich habitat for wildlife, particularly in the semi-wild woodland parts of the park.
In this park, there are few opportunities for new tree planting to take place without encroaching on existing open space. In fact, there is lots of demand for sponsored tree planting here but there are simply not enough tree planting opportunities.
Tree Strategy and Tree Maintenance
Trees in Holland Park are subjected to tree surveys as part of the tree inspection programme. Generally speaking, tree felling won’t occur here, however, sometimes dangerous tree removal will occur. Trees that are felled are usually replaced unless there are exceptional circumstances. For example, landscape conditions might make replanting undesirable.
As part of the Tree Strategy, there are plans for the management of the woodland. These are reviewed regularly and include proposals for tree planting, tree removal and the regeneration of desirable tree species, flora and fauna as per typical principles of woodland management. They also contain information about the diversification of tree species and age classes.
In Holland Park, there has been a decline in the overall number of trees and this has led to erosion. There are some bare patches of earth, for example.
The Parks Ecology Centre
This is a centre run by the Ecology Service for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. One of the aims of the centre is to promote understanding and awareness of the local environment and its biodiversity. The centre runs programmes and activities for both children and adults as well as environmental visits for schools.
One of the best events put on by the Holland Park Ecology Centre are the numerous tree walks. These take place seasonally, after all, any tree lover will know just how much the tree landscape changes throughout the seasons! As well as the tree walks, the centre runs bat walks, small mammal walks, owl walks, botany walks, amphibian walks, damselfly and dragonfly walks and butterfly and moth walks.
Beautiful Japanese Gardens
The park is home to two Japanese Gardens: The Fukushima Memorial Garden and the Kyoto Garden.
The Kyoto garden was a joint project between Japan’s Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Its creation in 1992 was to celebrate the Japan Festival that took part in London. The key elements in the garden are the pond and waterfall. Around these, you can see lots of different types of trees. The pond has a bridge from which you can see koi in the pond.
In 2012, the Fukushima garden was built. This was a supportive gesture to Japan to commemorate the natural disaster that occurred there on the 11th of March 2011. This garden is an empty one, deliberately so to give its visitors a feeling of emptiness, just like the tsunami did to those in Fukushima. There is a green lawn that has some rocks with a lantern.
Somewhere and Something for Everyone
If you love being outdoors, you’ll love Holland Park. There is so much to see and do that young and old will love visiting here. So, whether you fancy a walk, refreshments or a breath or some quiet reflection time, head to this wonderful place.
Article was written by Louise W.