Piles of rubble turned into a wildflower walk – 8th August

Burgess Park has some of the most beautiful piles of rubble this time of year!

Wildflower planting

Come and find out about them on a guided walk with the designer, James Hitchmough, on 8th August 2015, starting at 11am. Read on for details and links.

At the hand-over of Burgess Park from the GLC (at their dissolution in 1986) to Southwark Council, there were many buildings remaining in the park. In some cases, the GLC had plans for them, which were never realised due to their demise. In other cases, compulsory purchase had not been arranged yet, or there were long leases about to expire.

These buildings were nearly all eventually cleared by Southwark Council in the following ten years. In many cases, the rubble was simply piled up and topsoil dumped on top of it all. So various hillocks appeared wherever the buildings had happened to be.

At the revitalisation stage in 2010, it was decided to make a feature of these hills by re-arranging them into a more meaningful formations.

Piles of soil being bulldozed around
Re-landscaping in the eastern park, 2010 (© Jon Pickup)



The previous low plateaued hillocks became higher and steeper with ‘faces’ providing different climatic conditions to accommodate various kinds of planting.



The designers, LDA, engaged the services of the Sheffield University Horticultural Department to plan the planting. James Hitchmough, celebrated for the London 2012 Olympic gardens, wildflower meadows and horticultural planting, devised meadow and prairie-like elements, and these were sown in January 2012.

New Hills in 2013
New Hills at the western end in 2013

The north slopes comprise a ground layer of sown, shade-tolerant, mainly woodland perennials from which emerge summer and autumn flowering tall perennials. The West facing slopes support a heat and drought tolerant cosmopolitan meadow, running down to a drainage swale at the base. Despite some of the challenges, public response to the wildflowers has been extremely positive.

Professor Hitchmough will lead a walk explaining the design and planting, and describe how he arrived at the design. The walk will start at the western end, at the Tennis Courts near Addington Square, and visit the hills nearby. It will then move on to St Georges Gardens at the eastern side of the park, where he designed complex garden-like planting, which is looking beautiful now.

Please sign up for the walk on Eventbrite, where there will be a small deposit to pay, refundable on the day.

St Georges Gardens
St Georges Gardens


5 thoughts on “Piles of rubble turned into a wildflower walk – 8th August

    1. Dear all
      In reply to the question about the plants at St Georges, especially the names of the different asters:

      The prairies at St Georges Way, designed by the famous Mr Hitchmough, are a wonderful mix of North American species found growing wild in the mesic and dry prairies of the USA, an additional mix of mainly European species in the shadier areas, plus a small selection of other wild flowers (ox eye daisy, false chamomile). There are also poor attempts by the well meaning but misguided head gardener to fill in a few gaps with Pheasants Tail grass from the Mediterranean (Amenthale lessonia). These we will move in Spring to the mounds since it clearly doesn’t fit with the rest of the planting, though would have looked ok aesthetically… and finally a few experiments with Echium’s pininana and candicans that also don’t fit with the planting since they are from the Canary Isles but would look so nice in flower that we may plant as dot plants in barer sections.

      Firstly the asters have done very well in the cooler weather this summer. Last year most of them were a little frazzled in the summer heat.

      Unfortunately many members of the aster family have been reclassified into new genus’ including all the ones on the lists.

      So Aster azureus (taller pale blue one) has now been renamed as the much more easy to spell ‘Symphyotrichum oolentangiense’

      … the amazing white aster was Aster divaricartus but now called ‘Eurybia divaricata‘


      Finally the genus of A. Oblongifolius (shorter pale blue one) and A. novae-angliae ‘ September ruby’ (crimson) have also changed to Symphyotrichum .


      The latter is the one that draws the eye most but either they are creating variable coloured offspring with variable shaped flower or there are other cultivars than September Ruby also present, as the colours vary from deep crimson to purpley pink and even some salmon-y pink ones.

      Hopefully I am correct with the above info, I’d like to say I knew this all by heart but can only truly confirm that I’ve finally noticed there is a second y in Symphyotrichum.

      As for the rest of the plants, it is a bewildering selection, and I’m still trying to work them all out myself… I’ll type the list up in a separate comment. If people have further questions about the other plants at St Georges or elsewhere please let me know, and I will do my best to answer in an at least vaguely accurate manner.
      Gregory Smith

      1. Full list of specified plants at St Georges. I can’t confirm if this is exactly the plants used in the end, but have found most things on the list are present in varying quantities. I’ve reclassified the asters in the previous comment, and some other species in this list may also have had their names changed in the last decade. I think my favourite are the bright scarlet starry flowers of Silene regia, or ‘Royal Catchfly’.

        Short Prairie

        Asclepias tuberosa
        Symphyotrichum oblongifolium
        Callirhoe bushii
        Carex testacea
        Dianthus carthusianorum
        Echinacea pallida
        Echinacea paradoxa
        Echinacea purpurea
        Erygium yuccifolium
        Galium verum
        Galtonia candicans
        Kniphofia triangularis
        Liatris aspera
        Linum narborense
        Oenothera macrocarpa var incana
        Oenothera tetragona
        Origanum vulgare
        Penstemon barbatus
        Rudbeckia fulgida var dreamii
        Scutellaria baicalensis
        Silene regia
        Silphium terebinthinaceum
        Veronica incana

        Eremurus stenophylla
        Pulsatilla vulgaris
        Schizachyrium scoparium
        Sedum ‘ Red Cauli’

        Taller prairie

        Symphotrichum oolentangiense
        Eurybia divaricata
        Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘ September Ruby’
        Symphyotrichum oblongifolium
        Coreopsis tripteris
        Echinacea pallida
        Echinacea purpurea
        Erygium yuccifolium
        Gillenia trifoliata
        Penstemon barbatus
        Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker’s Red’
        Rudbeckia fulgida var dreamii
        Silene regia
        Silphium laciniatum
        Silphium terebinthinaceum
        Solidago speciosa
        Tradescantia ohioensis

        Cimicifuga simplex
        Eupatorium maculatum ‘Riesenchirm’
        Lobelia tupa
        Panicum virgatum ‘ Shenandoah’
        Rudbeckia maxima
        Veronicastratum virginicum ‘ Lavanderturm’

        Woodland shade mix

        Ajuga reptans ‘Jungle Beauty’
        Aruncus diocus ‘ Kneiffii’
        Epimedium ‘Frohnleiten’
        Epimedium x rubrum
        Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Rubra’
        Galium oderatum
        Helleborus foetidus
        Helloborus x hybridus ‘ Ashwood Strain’
        Liriope muscari
        Omphalodes cappadocicum
        Polystichum setiferum ‘ Herrenhausen’
        Eranthis hiemalis
        Narcissus pseudonarcissus
        Scilla sibirica ‘ Spring Beauty’
        Bupthalmum salicifolium
        Heuchera villosa
        Lathyrus vernus
        Primula elatior
        Primula veris


        Pittosporum tobira
        Crataegus monogyna
        Fagus sylvatica
        Acer campestre
        Carpinus betulis

        Blocks of grasses

        Pennisetum alopecuroides
        Calamagrostis acutiflora

        Best wishes, G. Smith

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