The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 7 Municipal Parks in South London

Features of Dulwich Park

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There are a few fine old trees in the Park, particularly a row of gnarled oaks near the lake. This is a small sheet of water on the side nearest the College. The carriage road, which encircles the Park, crosses by a stone bridge the trickling stream, formed by the overflow from the lake. On the south-east side of the Park there are but few trees, but large masses of rhododendrons and azaleas have been planted, which make a brilliant show in the summer. The most distinctive feature is the rock gardening. There is a very large collection of Alpine and rock plants, which are growing extremely well and covering the stones with delicious soft green cushions, which turn to pink, yellow, white and purple, as the season advances. Even in the cold early spring, snowdrops, and the pretty little Chionodoxa, the "Glory of the Snow," begin to peep out amongst the rocks, and these are the harbingers of a succession of bloom, through the spring and summer months. On either side of one of the entrances, a long and pleasing line of this rock-work extends, but the plants for the most part are grown on mounds like rocky islands rising up from a sea of gravel. There are several of these isolated patches in the middle of the carriage drive. It is certainly fortunate, for those who only drive round the Park, thus to have a full view of the charming rock plants; but to compare such a display to the rock garden at Kew is misleading. There may be nearly as many plants at Dulwich as at Kew, but the arrangement of that charming little retired valley at Kew is so infinitely superior that the comparison is unjustified. The small stream which leaves the lake, and other places in the Park, offer, just as good a foundation for a really effective rock garden as the one at Kew. Such an arrangement would give a much better idea of the plants, in their own homes, than the islands in the roadway, that must suffer from dust, besides looking stiff and unnatural. It is, however, delightful to see how well these plants are thriving. This is hardly astonishing, as it is not in a crowded, smoky district, but in one of the most favoured of suburbs. Dulwich Park adds greatly to the advantages of the neighbourhood: it has not hitherto been crowded, and is by no means a playground of the poorest classes, but now the advent of electric trams and rapid communication may somewhat lessen its exclusiveness.