Abbey recreation ground and the Merton Park Green Walks, together with Nursery Road playing field, are located right in the centre of Merton. Together they form the largest green space in South Wimbledon.
WERA has taken a keen interest in this wonderful amenity since 2008 with the aim of making it a cleaner and greener place where wildlife may flourish and visitors may relax and play. With the support of the Merton Council Greenspaces team, idverde and the London Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), a Green Flag was awarded to the Abbey recreation ground / Merton Park Green Walks in 2018, one of only six Green Flags in the borough. We have also put a lot of effort into the adjoining Nursery Road playing field by planting in excess of 2,000 whips, even though the playing field is not included in the Green Flag area as it is not open to the public.
To qualify for a Green Flag an area needs not only to be open to the public, but also meet eight key criteria, including being a welcoming space, providing a park that is healthy, safe, secure, clean and well maintained, with sustainable management of resources, appropriate management of conservation and heritage features, and where community involvement is encouraged.
Over the past two years a Community Payback team has transformed Abbey recreation ground by painting railings, edging paths, removing bamboo, preparing ground and planting shrubs, cleaning playground equipment, planting whips and applying wood chips, picking litter and cutting grass. A wildflower bed has been established. Along the Merton Park Green Walks brambles have been cleared around the free to use tennis courts and more whips have been planted. The seasonal pond build by WERA several years ago is due to be refurbished later this year.
Funds applied for by WERA over the years have come from a number of sources. The largest amounts (£93,000 for the tennis courts and £250,000 for the changing rooms) were provided by the London Marathon Charitable Trust and Viridor Credits, with additional amounts coming from several smaller funds. The smaller grants paid for professional tree work, pond materials, wildflower turf, seeds and bulbs.
Since the middle of last year a second Community Payback team has been working in Nelson Gardens. Recently a third team has been working in Kendor Gardens and is already making a noticeable difference. Most of the railings have been painted and the big job of edging the paths is underway. This should enable the Friends of Kendor Garden to focus on plants and planting rather than heavier manual tasks. All the CRC teams use Abbey recreation ground as their base which is where the tool room is and where they take their breaks.
With a long list of projects and the hard work of three CRC per week we look forward to our local green spaces becoming even more pleasant places to visit over the coming months.