The month of May sees the park graduate from the lush greens of spring into awesome displays of colour. Most notably these come from the imposing rhododendrons in the American Garden, as well as from the azaleas (left). These are not only intermingled with the rhododendrons, but also adorn beds elsewhere in the park, especially towards College Gate.
At the northern end of the American Garden is a display board that includes a photograph taken in the park’s early days, not long after the garden was laid out. The rhododendrons at that time were barely knee height. Because they have been given free rein, the plants have grown into the magnificent specimens they are today
Unfortunately their size provides no guarantee against disease. Back in 2010, part of the garden had to be fenced off, following the discovery that some plants were affected by phytophthoras – soil or water-borne fungus-like pathogens that can kill off plants and shrubs. The problem was brought under control after specialist advice.
The aim now is to replace the gaps left after removing the diseased specimens with some rhododendron and azalea plants that are known to have a resistance to the disease. Funding for this has been obtained by the Friends as part of the recent round of Cleaner, Greener, Safer grants from the London Borough of Southwark.