On a sunny early autumn day, the Duchess spent time in the garden hearing how parents had been helped during lockdown by support groups, and how parks and other outdoor spaces had been so important throughout this time.
The Old English Garden provided the ideal backdrop for the Duchess to appreciate the value of such places, with plenty of benches in sunshine and shade to sit and chat, and wide paths to walk and talk.
As well as being a relaxing place to socialise, the garden also is a great antidote to the daily grind of city life, particularly in these coronavirus times as one visitor told us:
‘I am writing to give a heartfelt thanks to the Thrive volunteers at Battersea Park who work in the Old English Garden. In my humble opinion, I believe that Battersea Park is one of the most beautiful in London and its heart surely has to be the Old English Garden itself.
‘Over the months of lockdown this oasis of beauty and serenity has proved a lifeline to myself and to many of the other visitors to the garden, finding solace in its glorious colours, fragrances and wildlife.’
One feature behind the garden’s popularity is that it feels separate and private from the rest of Battersea Park because it’s enclosed, providing a place of sanctuary for visitors to escape busyness and overcome mental fatigue.
The diversity of beds and swathes of plants offer plenty of visual interest, textures and scents which help many a lunchtime visitor recharge and feel restored.
Plant-covered walkways, a soothing central water feature, birdsong and vibrant insect life all combine to maximise the therapeutic value of the walled garden, built in the early 1900s.
Thrive took over responsibility for the Old English Garden in 2006 and inherited a space that needed TLC. With help from garden designer Sarah Price and financial support from perfumery company Jo Malone London, plans were set in motion to make the garden a special space again.
Today, the garden is an important showcase for social and therapeutic horticulture, and client gardeners aiming to get back into employment via our Working It Out programme do regular sessions there with our horticultural therapy team.
If you are interested in working there as a client gardener or as a volunteer, do get in touch.
Or if you just want to enjoy it for yourself, feel free – the garden is open to the public, as well as royalty, and is well worth a visit.