Features

Right on Kew

Volunteer Elizabeth Dobbie on how Broomfield Park Conservatory has become a small haven for plant lovers

Inside Broomfield Park Conservatory, which boasts many exotic species
Inside Broomfield Park Conservatory, which boasts many exotic species

A term often used by visitors to describe Broomfield Park Conservatory is “mini Kew”.

The conservatory has been open, in its current incarnation being run by volunteers, for more than ten years. We hope having read about it you will want to visit, or even join us to help maintain our exciting plant collection.

Set within Broomfield Park’s 18th Century walled garden, the conservatory was built by Messrs W Richardson in 1934, to a late Victorian design. It was a much-loved feature of the park for many years, but by the early 1990s had fallen into disrepair and had to be closed to the public. The building was eventually refurbished by Enfield Council and reopened in 2010. Since then it has been managed by a group of volunteers from Friends of Broomfield Park.

The first job for the volunteers when they took control of the conservatory was to clear the thousands of pieces of broken glass from the central bed and rebuild the rockery. Then work was carried out to strengthen the surrounding staging which holds our specialist collections. Over the years we have sought to build up the number of plants on display and to organise them into distinct zones.

The conservatory now comprises a central bed with a rockery, pond and waterfall. The plants are mainly sub-tropical species from various parts of the world and need to be kept at a minimum temperature of 15C. The toughest plants in the collection include Strelitzia (bird of paradise), which has become our signature plant, and Yucca, which has survived neglect and being exposed to London winters. They still form the backbone of our collection.


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Other plants featured are orchids, aroids, cacti, succulents, bromeliads and carnivorous plants. We have a good number of food plants, such as coffee, citrus, bananas, papaya and, outside on the newly installed arch, kiwi plants. There is, also, a changing display of flowering, scented and sculptural plants, giving something new to see every month of the year! We have a dedicated team of volunteers who visit the conservatory every day to check the plants and water as necessary.

The conservatory is open to the public on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons from 2.30pm-4.30pm, when our friendly stewards are on hand to show off the plants and answer any questions. Visitors reminisce about visiting the conservatory as it was previously, but most comment that it is “better than ever”.

Broomfield Park serves a diverse community and people from warmer climes love to see plants they knew as children before coming to live locally. As well as our regular openings we host school visits, gardening and walking groups and also occasional art or photographic sessions and guitar concerts. Funds are raised from visitor donations and plant sales, with specialist sales of tomatoes and chillies in May and indoor plants from our collections in July. Please come and visit us and see our mini Kew!

For more information about Broomfield Park Conservatory:
Facebook
/BroomfieldParkConservatory
Visit friendsofbroomfieldpark.org


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