Our 64 page 'Maker' Guide launched at the National Park City Festival is full of examples of people showing what makes London a National Park City - the kind of activities people, communities, businesses and others are doing every day to make London greener, healthier, wilder. To get a copy come along to one of our events, or download it below.

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National Park City Maker Supplement - Even more to enjoy

We had so much great stuff we couldn't fit it all into the main paper. Here's our supplement to enjoy.

  • Teenage activist Kabir Kaul is taking action in Hillingdon
  • Annual Calendar
  • The Greenground Map by Helen Ilus
  • Rewild My Street
  • ‘Think global, Act local’ - the Horniman Museum’s Ethos
  • Plants for London
  • Welcome to ΖΩΗ!

Teenage activist Kabir Kaul is taking action in Hillingdon

Teenage activist Kabir Kaul from Hillingdon, is concerned about the future of the world he’s inheriting and its dwindling number of birds, insects and plants. He’s taking action and has some pointers for others:

“I believe we should make changes individually in small steps, of which we have absolute control.

I have a few easy ideas to attract wildlife. Start by hanging bird-feeders and nest boxes from trees. I use suet balls, seed mix and coconuts. Do not feed them bread, salty food or cooked rice. They either can’t digest it or extract nutrition from it. If you don’t have a tree, hang feeders from balconies, on walls or along fences.

Create a water feature. This gives birds a place to eat, drink and bathe. It could be just an old washing-up bowl set in the ground. Adding aquatic plants, attracts damselflies and frogs. You can also make a difference by visiting and looking after nearby green spaces. Pick-up litter or make a little garden on your street for wildlife.

If we all did this, we could vastly expand London’s green spaces and boost its wildlife. The increase in plants will also help lower levels of carbon dioxide. Yes, there is a lot to be upset about, but I am hopeful change is coming very soon. Starting with ourselves.”

Follow Kabir at @KaulOfTheWildUk and see and read about his fantastic wildlife locations map with over 1000 places to visit, over in our Places to Go 

Annual Calendar

The annual Calendar is a useful list of dates and national events to help Makers and Maker Groups plan activities or to link-up with national and international themes. See it on Annual Calendar.

The Greenground Map by Helen Ilus

The Greenground Map was inspired by the iconic London tube map as an alternative sustainable transport map. The ‘green lines’ are representing the connections between parks and could be walked and cycled. See the map and read more about it on The Greenground Map.

Rewild My Street

Rewild My Street provides guidance for people wishing to adapt their homes, gardens and streets to encourage wildlife - and stop London's streets going grey. You can read lots more at https://www.rewildmystreet.org/

Rewild my Street house Section 1500x

‘Think global, Act local’ - the Horniman Museum’s Ethos

The Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill, south London consists of an internationally important museum of human cultures, including musical instruments, and natural history, with complementary living collections: an Aquarium, Butterfly House and Animal Walk. All of this is contained in a setting of 16.5 acres of gardens with a spectacular view of central London, including a Victorian bandstand for live performances inspired by the outstanding collection of musical instruments, and a half-mile long nature trail on a former railway line.

The Horniman was founded by a Quaker philanthropist, Frederick Horniman, whose company gained its success from selling pure unadulterated tea across the British Empire in its patented packaging. The fortune he accumulated allowed him to collect items representative of global cultures and the natural world, showing his collection in his own private house and then in a purpose-built museum on the site which opened in 1901. He even extended the gardens by buying up adjacent properties and demolishing them.

The dedication plaque on the 1901 building is instructive of his attitude: he gave the whole place ‘dedicated to the public for ever as a free museum for their recreation, instruction and enjoyment’.

His generosity, which was inspired by the Quaker values he was brought up with, reminds us of the original Greek derivation of ‘philanthropy’, which means ‘love of people’. He reportedly felt that money was not the be all and end all of life but merely a means to fulfil one’s obligations to one’s fellow humans.

Steered by this founding vision, the Horniman has always had a close relationship with its local community, working with local schools and organisations to ensure that it is used by all. In recent years, it has enjoyed unparalleled success, growing audiences five-fold in a generation, to reach close to a million visits a year. The great majority of visitors are local, and come multiple times a year, over several generations. As a result, the word I hear most often in relation to the Horniman is ‘love’, as in ‘Oh, I love the Horniman!’ This kind of feeling is unusual for a cultural institution, and incredibly precious.

In fact, museums, parks and gardens are amongst the few remaining organisations that still retain public trust and confidence in a time when many institutions have lost that trust. This is also very precious: we are trusted to provide impartial information and to hold our assets in good order for the future.

As incoming Chief Executive a year ago, I was asked by our board of trustees to review all our activities and develop a plan for the coming decade. The mission hadn’t been changed for some 30 years, prompting us to review it for the 21st century and reflect concerns about issues such as climate change and intercultural understanding which had become much more prevalent. So we decided to develop a new mission which is about encouraging our visitors to engage actively with such issues: ‘The Horniman connects us all with global cultures and the natural environment, encouraging us to shape a positive future for the world we all share’. We know that the vast majority of our audiences come in family groups and that parents are worried about the world their children will inherit, and are very keen to engage with what they might be able to do in their own lives to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity and growing antagonism between people of different faiths and cultures.

Accordingly, our approach to programming is now to provide our visitors with experiences based on academically rigorous and objective knowledge which they can then use – if they wish – to take small actions in their own lives which cumulatively build up to something significant. Although the phrase ‘think global, act local’ is an old one, it absolutely captures the Horniman’s ethos. 

For example, in our World Gallery, opened last year, we collected the prow of a refugee boat from Libya to tell the story of recent migration. It was collected in Sicily, along with the testimony of some of the people who were on board, the captain of the rescue ship, and some of the migrants working in the dockyard. It was curated and interpreted by members of our Youth Panel, some of whom are refugees themselves, living locally. We also filmed life-sized videos of various members of our diverse local communities talking about objects that are important to them personally, many of which had been on long journeys with them.

One of the key elements in our long term plan is to redisplay our Natural History Gallery and our Aquarium to highlight much more centrally themes which relate to ways in which our visitors can actively engage with environmental issues. The Gallery is some 60 years old, and human impact on the planet does not feature. Our Aquarium, amazingly, is the first in the world to predictably induce coral spawning.  This is internationally important work: opening up the possibility of breeding multiple times a year, rather than the single annual event in the wild, allows greater opportunities for research including selectively breeding coral which is more adapted to warmer waters.  We are currently working in partnership with Florida Aquarium to scale up the process and potentially repopulate bleached coral reefs. Highlighting this work in the redisplay, alongside the environmental messaging in our Butterfly House and Gardens, is aimed at giving our extensive family audiences some practical actions to take.

For example, we are already trying to lead by example by eliminating single-use plastic consumption on our site. Our Café no longer stocks bottled water, and offers visitors tap water refills or canned spring water. It has also removed all its plastic packaging and straws and replaced them with plant-based alternatives. In our Gardens we have installed a water bottle refill point as part of the #OneLess campaign, and all of the museum’s food waste is processed in a Ridan Composter and used as mulch in the Gardens. In addition, 90% of our Gardens waste is composted and then reused. The Horniman also recycles 187,000 litres of water from the Aquarium’s water filters and uses it in the Gardens.

More generally, seeing the Horniman as a key part of the local community, we work closely with local organisations, particularly in our local borough Lewisham which has a very diverse population (48% BAME) and where 26% live in poverty. Our work has four main aims:

  • To help newly arrived people feel at home in our area
  • To reduce isolation amongst vulnerable people such as the elderly and the disabled
  • To support people’s mental health and wellbeing
  • To change attitudes to social issues through co-producing activities with partners

For example, there is now increasingly good evidence that participation in culture and engagement with the outdoors can be positive for physical and mental health, and like many other boroughs, Lewisham has its own social prescribing policy and a network called Community Connections, which we partner with, where GP referrals are made to a range of voluntary, sporting and cultural institutions. The Horniman is in an ideal position to contribute to better health outcomes because it combines its indoor heritage collections with its living collections outside. To that end, for example, we partner with the South London & Maudsley NHS Trust’s Recovery College on programmes that engage their students with the Horniman’s collections and spaces. Our volunteering programme includes disabled people, who find the interaction with people at our handling tables in the galleries, or behind the scenes with our collections staff, a highlight of their week.

More widely, we use our assets to support the skills and employability agenda through our general volunteering programme, providing people with experiences they require to progress, and specifically we have a gardeners’ apprenticeship scheme supported by the Worshipful Company of Gardeners.

All our users see the Horniman as a safe and trusted civic space, where people from all backgrounds and generations can come together to explore what it means to be human, and our relationship with our environment. This community focus has propelled us to explore a new area of work supporting young people in partnership with local secondary schools, drawing on our global collections and our outside spaces. It is early days, but we are clear that, if Mr Horniman were alive today, it would be exactly the kind of thing he would be wanting us to do.

Nick Merriman
Chief Executive
30 April 2019

Plants for London

Benjamin Brace is a horticulturist and Chartered Landscape Architect and National Park City Maker. Here are his top tips for colour and year round interest in the average London garden.

Go Wilder!

For those seeking a wilder look and feel, here are the top five plants recommended by London Wildlife Trust, although for a truly wild garden, they recommend you leave the planting to nature and intervene as little as possible:

  • Greater yellow-rattle (Rhinanthus major): London holds the most significant proportion of the national population of this grass parasite. So named because of the seeds in their papery pods on summer, it's a good plant to sow in grasslands to help suppress dominance by coarse grasses.
  • London rocket (Sisymbrium irio): this Mediterranean species of rocket flourished after the Great Fire of London in 1666, now confined to a few sites. Good to see more of it.
  • Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea): majestic plant of woodland glades, edges & hedgerows, a great source of nectar for moths and bees but BEWARE, while they are beautiful and loved by pollinators, they are poisonous.
  • Marsh-marigold (or king-cups, Caltha palustris): big-flowered denizen of ponds, streams and wet ditches. An excellent addition to new ponds and wetlands, and nectar source for hoverflies and beetles.
  • Traveller's-joy (old-man's beard, Clematis vitalba) : a clambering climber with creamy white flowers and feathery fruits in autumn. Another great nectar source, and can be used as cover on trellises and walls, providing refuge for birds.

Other popular, wild species attractive to UK wildlife  include common reed, hornbeam, hazel, kidney vetch, ragged-robin and meadowsweet.

Full Shade

Trees

  • Acer palmatum and cultivars - Japanese maple
  • Cornus alternifolia ‘Robin Hill’ – Pagoda tree
  • Cornus florida – Dogwood with white flowers
  • Cornus ‘Eddies White Wonder’
  • Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’ – Irish yew

Shrubs

  • Ilex aquifolium – Holly (good 4 hedging)
  • Hedera helix – English ivy
  • Euonymus fortunii - Wintercreeper
  • Euonymus alatus – Winged spindle of Fire bush
  • Aucuba japonica – Spotted laurel (hedging)
  • Fatsia japonica
  • Viburnum davidii – Evergreen Viburnum
  • Mahonia aquifolium – Oregon grape (yellow fragrant flowers, spiky leaves
  • Rubus tricolor – Creeping bramble
  • Hydrangea anomala subsp. Petiolaris

Herbaceous

  • Epimedium warleyense – Bishops hat or Horny goat weed
  • Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Rose Queen’
  • Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ – blue flowered ground cover
  • Bergenia sp.
  • Geranium sylvaticum ‘Album’ or ‘Mayflower’ – Violet flowers on a hardy plant
  • Ajuga reptans ‘Catlins Giant’ – Blue bugle
  • Pachysandra terminalis – carpet box, slow growing dense cover
  • Astrantia sp. and cultivars - Masterwort
  • Vinca minor – common periwinkle or creeping myrtle
  • Hosta sp

Full Sun

Trees

  • Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Shademaster’ ‘Moraine’ or ‘Skyline’ (This is considered an invasive plant if it escapes gardens, so if using, please do keep it in check).
  • Betula nigra – black birch
  • Clerodendrum trichotomum – Glory tree has blue berries and red sepals.
  • Rhus typhina - Stag horn, a large suckering deciduous tree.
  • Liquidambar styraciflua – Sweetgum. A large deciduous with red and gold autumn colour.
  • Pinus wallichiana coniferous “architectural” tree.
  • Elaeagnus angustifolia – Russian olive or Oleaster with yellow flowers.

Shrubs

  • Cistus cultivars – Rock rose, perennial.
  • Lavendula cultivars - Lavendar.
  • Rosmarinus cultivars - Rosemary.
  • Ceanothus ‘Blue Mound’ – California lilac or soap bush.

Roses

  • Phlomis fructicosa­ Jerusalem sage, wooly, silver leafed with yellow flowers.
  • Hebe sp. and cultivars – flowering evergreen.
  • Potentilla fructicosa cultivars - shrubby cinquefoil or tundra rose. Hardy deciduous shrub.

Herbaceous (including bulbs).

  • Geranium macrorrhizum 'Ingwersen's Variety' Bigroot geranium makes good dense groundcover.
  • Persicaria affinis ‘Darjeeling Red’ Himalayan knotweed or fleece flower makes good ground cover.
  • Stachys byzantia ‘Silver Carpet’ Lamb’s ear, makes good ground cover.
  • Alchemilla mollis – Lady’s mantle.
  • Libertia peregrinans – wandering Chilean iris.
  • Dahia sp and cultivars.
  • Narcissus sp and cultivars - daffodils.
  • Allium sp and cultivars – Onion family.
  • Camassia sp and cultivars Flowering member of the asparagus family.
  • Agastache sp and cultivars Long lasting flower spikes, very ornamental en masse & good for butterflies.

Semi-Shade

Trees

  • Amelanchier lamarkii­ – Juneberry or serviceberry – a deciduous flowering shrub.
  • Acer campestre – Field or hedge maple bears yellow flowers.
  • Acer davidii – snakebark maple – understorey shrub.
  • Celtis australis – European nettle tree or hackberry. Good for shade.
  • Hamamelis x intermedia – Witch hazel.
  • Arbutus unedo – Strawberry tree, broadleaved evergreen.
  • Cornus mas – Cornelian cherry, member of the dogwood family.
  • Ligustrum japonicum – Japanese privet, easy pruning evergreen good for hedges.
  • Ligustrum lucidum – Chinese privet evergreen shrub with white flowers.
  • Magnolia stellate – Star magnolia, ornamental shrub tree – slow growing.
  • Magnolia Kobus – Ornamental deciduous with fragrant flowers.

      Shrubs

  • Euonymus fortunii cultivars – Spindle or wintercreeper.
  • Berberis darwinii ‘Compacta’ – Darwins Barberry. An evergreen shrub, potentially invasive. Avoid using if you live next door to woodland edges or heathland.
  • Euphorbia amygdaloides – Wood spurge, flowering ground cover.
  • Sarcococca hookeriana var humilis – Sweetbox, evergreen low growing shrub.
  • Hypericum ‘Hidcote’ A compact version of St John’s wort with yellow flowers. Deciduous.
  • Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ Dogwood with fiery coloured stems in winter.
  • Hebe sp and cultivars.
  • Hydrangea quercifolia [Snow Queen] Oak leaf hydrangea with dramatic white flowers.
  • Nandina domestica – Heavenly bamboo. Broadleaf evergreen with interesting foliage.
  • eavenly bamboo, braodleaved
  • Choisya ternata and cultivars – Mexican orange blossom, with aromatic leaves.

Herbaceous (including bulbs).

  • Luzulas sylvestris ‘Marginata’ – Great wood-rush, mound forming evergreen.
  • Alchemilla mollis – Lady’s mantle, goundcover.
  • Ajuga reptans cultivars – Bugleweed, dense and spreading ground cover.
  • Tulipa sp. Choose from a range of colours and sizes.
  • Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ – Japanese anemone.
  • Thalictrum delavayi – Chinese meadow rue. Upright perennial with lacy green foliage and clusters of lilac-mauve flowers.
  • Alchemilla saxitilis – Alpine lady’s mantle. More compact version of Lady's mantle, great for rocky areas.
  • Geum rivale – Water avens or chocolate root, member of the rose family that likes boggy areas and wet meadows.

 

Welcome to ΖΩΗ!

How would you like to help create a new play to inspire audiences to make life better in London? LAS Theatre producer Bara Collins introduces the idea, explains how individuals can contribute and offers a tantalising preview of the story.

Welcome to ΖΩΗ!

Since 2012, LAStheatre has been creating multi-disciplinary science/art projects under the banner of The Enlightenment Café. These projects use theatre and storytelling to set up a scenario and context for a series of interactive installations set around a real world problem.  Over the years we have had the pleasure of collaborating with some of the UK’s most prestigious academic and cultural institutions and created shows across the UK.

For Deadinburgh, which took place at Summerhall in Edinburgh, we explored what it meant to be human by placing the audience at the centre of an epidemic.  It was created in collaboration with researchers from: Edinburgh University; Heriot-Watt University; Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology; The Roslin Institute; and Manchester Metropolitan University. The show was a real success, won multiple awards and received critical acclaim. Joyce McMillan from the Scotsman said:

“The show achieves something special in so effectively patrolling the boundary between straightforward horror-movie excitement, and the powerful ethical and strategic questions raised...While there’s plenty of talk, at the moment, about bridging the gap between arts and science, this is a show that actually does it; and provides a good, exhausting, thought-provoking night out, into the bargain.”

ΖΩΗ, our fifth major Enlightenment Café production, will focus on London's ecosystem and the importance of biodiversity to wellbeing in urban environments. The show will transport the audience to the year 2070 and a London with an ecosystem that is failing.

Right now, London is at a key juncture in its history. It is the greenest major city in Europe and the third greenest city of its size globally and yet habitat and biodiversity loss is occurring daily. The Guardian recently reported that “the equivalent of 2.5 Hyde Parks [are lost] a year to new developments”. Simultaneously, we are gaining new knowledge about the interdependence of greenspace and biodiversity to human well-being.

These problems are not limited to London, or the UK. In November 2018, the United Nations biodiversity chief warned that the world must thrash out a new deal for nature in the next two years or humanity could be the first species to document our own extinction. She went on to say: “The loss of biodiversity is a silent killer. It’s different from climate change, where people feel the impact in everyday life. With biodiversity, it is not so clear but by the time you feel what is happening, it may be too late.”

ΖΩΗ will create an engaging environment to spark debate and inspire action on biodiversity loss. By setting the show in the year 2070, we can paint a bleak but all too possible future that demonstrates what will happen to our environment if we continue to place human convenience at the apex of how we develop our physical environment. Within the world of the show, we can then look back to London in 2019 with 47% green space, 15,000 species and an ecosystem that was in relative balance.  This will allow us to appreciate the privileged position we are currently in and the immense potential for loss (both to our ecosystem and our well-being) in the decades to come.

For ΖΩΗ, we are excited to be working with partners including London National Park City, My Green Pod, UCL, London Wildlife Trust, Greenspace Information for Greater London and The Green Schools Project. We are particularly excited about working closely with schools in the delivery of this production Earlier this year, Schools Strike for Climate demonstrated the urgent need for dialogue between the custodians of our environment and those that will inherit it. This project aims to offer a space for that dialogue to take place.

We are always looking for exciting collaborators and project partners who can help us bring our work to new audiences. If you would like to talk to you about getting involved with ΖΩΗ, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you are a teacher or student in a London school, please get in touch with our Producer, Liz Bate, to discuss how you and your students can participate in the project for free: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information about ΖΩΗ visit www.LAStheatre.com

 

Ruth looks out over the city. London. The concrete jungle.  It always seemed an oxymoron to her: a lifeless substance responsible for 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, pithily paired with an essential ecosystem, a soaring Cathedral of life, that we destroyed in pursuit of burgers and bike tyres.

She hums the chorus of ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ as a neon sign flashes in through the window from a towering concrete NCP opposite. The sign, ‘Paradise Parks’, blinks on and off, without a hint of irony.

Ruth makes herself a cup of tea and turns on the radio for the 6 o’clock news. All the talk of re-engaging with Mother Earth reminds her of a sketch by Bill Hicks, a 20th century comedian, that her mother used to like.  Bill asks the audience:

“You think when Jesus comes back he's gonna want to see a cross, man?”

 Then he does a skit as Jesus, begging God not to return him to Earth for his second coming.

“Man, they’re still wearing crosses. I’m not goin’, Dad. No, they totally missed the point. When they start wearing fishes, I might show up again.”

Eight billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since its invention, yet the cement industry pumps out more than that every two years. If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. For Gaia, Mother Nature, cement is the equivalent of building our cities out of crucifixes - right? She can’t be too keen on a second coming either.

An alert pops up in the corner of her vision breaking her train of thought.

Air Quality: Unsafe. Respirator Mandatory.

It has been three years since she set foot outside. Felt the stale breeze on her skin, the stifling heat. She keeps a full oxygen tank and respirator by the door, as required by law, but there is little that cannot be done online nowadays.  Another alert.  A government sponsored prescription for 10 minutes in a simulated park. She can’t help but laugh. Or was it a groan.

Clunk. A letter arrives in a pressurised tube.  It’s 2070, but a few curious souls still use snail mail.  The paranoid, the ancient, the officenados of the analogue age. Since joining ΖΩΗ, Ruth’s mail has increased significantly.

For over a century, environmentalists have been treated with suspicion. Fifty years ago, in 2017, it was predicted that eco-terrorism would constitute the next wave of extremism to plague the planet.  Eco-terrorism never materialised; the planets own public relations campaign on climate change was compelling enough. The loss of life devastating.

With the governments enduring misgivings about environmentalists and ΖΩΗ’s mistrust in the security of online messaging services, a mandate was sent: all communication between ΖΩΗ collaborators must be carried out with pen, paper and sealed with wax. A new ‘Republic of Letters’.

Ruth breaks the seal as she opens the envelope.

Records had been discovered about the biodiversity and ecosystem of London in 2019, the year the city was declared a National Park City, the world’s first.

She pauses for a moment, wondering if Londoners knew then how much was at stake? All that they would lose. With hindsight, it’s clear when it all went wrong. All the articles, all the reports agree that it was 2025, the year London’s population hit 10 million and it easier for developers to build on green spaces. As green space dwindled, the animal and plant populations did too. London’s eco-system collapsed; a complex house of cards in a slow-motion free fall. More concrete, less jungle.

She reads on.

ΖΩΗ will use these records as a baseline for the regeneration of London’s ecosystem.  We are calling on our collaborators – be they artists, architects, scientists or gardeners – to gather.  Together we must find a way forward, a way to adapt our city and rescue it’s dying ecosystem. There is much to learn from the data we have discovered, much to appreciate, but we must also explore how and why things went wrong and prevent it from ever happening again.

A symbol is scratched on the bottom righthand corner of the letter.  One she recognises but was not expecting. A flame with a circle drawn in the centre. Next to it an address.

Ruth moves to the kitchen and places the note in her incinerator. A faint hope stirs in the depths of her stomach.  Before the last fragments of the note had crisped and curled in on themselves, she and the respirator were gone.

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