Cannizaro Park is a much loved and popular Grade II listed park just off Westside Wimbledon Common in the London Borough of Merton. The park has a long history dating back to its years as part of the Duke of Cannizaro’s Estate and its transition to a public Park when Merton Borough Council adopted it in 1949. Its Grade II status is due to some of the rare and exquisite plants which are all around the park. It has some superb trees and shrubs, which are attractive to both the horticulturalists and gardeners as well as those who come for a walk a picnic or simply to enjoy some peace and quiet in the many secluded areas of the park.
The Friends of Cannizaro Park is a registered charity, whose aims are to provide oversight of the park in relation to its maintenance by the London Borough of Merton and to strive to commission improvements to the Park for the benefit of visitors and the local community as a whole. We are a small committee of trustees, members and many dedicated volunteers who give up their time to ensure that the park remains a jewel in Wimbledon’s crown, a haven for wild life and an enduring attraction for all its many visitors. If you would like to know more about the Friends, our aims, opportunities for volunteering, events and how to get involved or support us please look at the sections below.
The Aviary in Cannizaro Park has been in position for over 50 years, but its structure was never robust and it has needed considerable repairs over many years. Originally built and managed by London Borough of Merton, the maintenance of both building and birds has been led by The Friends of Cannizaro Park for over ten years, due to council budgetary restraints.
In spring 2022, the Friends reluctantly took the decision to re-house the birds, when it became clear the structure was no longer safe. We also began a process of reviewing the future of the iconic Aviary structure.
The first stage of this process involved analysis of modern animal welfare requirements, the volunteer resourcing required to support the Aviary, together with financial costs. As a result of this analysis, the Friends concluded that while there is an option to create a new structure, we could not support retaining birds in a new build. Till now, a team of volunteers has done a wonderful job managing the birds’ daily care, but this is hugely time-consuming, complex to resource and takes time away from other important tasks within the park.
In addition, our charity does not have the expertise to keep up with evolving animal welfare standards. We feel this decision is consistent with strategic focus on our charity objective, which is to conserve and improve Cannizaro Park as a place of historic and ecological interest and beauty. London Borough of Merton’s Greenspaces Team supports the necessity for a review and our planned consultation process.
As the existing structure will need to be demolished at some point, the Friends is now leading a consultation on possible future options. We invite park users to share their preference, together with any ideas.
The two options are as follows:
The consultation period will last until Friday, 18 November 2022, and any proposed changes will of course be subject to planning approval.
The Friends welcomes hearing which option park users prefer, together with any additional ideas or thoughts. You can do this in two ways:
*Please advise us by email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend, so we can ensure our room size is appropriate.
At The Friends of Cannizaro Park AGM in June, Chair Catherine Nelson outlined achievements in the last year and plans for 2021/22.
“Despite lockdown, we’ve had a hugely productive year - thanks to our supporters and our amazing volunteers,” Catherine said.
Under the charity’s first priority - assisting Merton Council with park maintenance and renewal - the Friends gardening volunteers renovated the park entrance, re-planted a large Tennis Court garden bed, installed QR tree labels on around 100 notable specimens, and contributed the equivalent of 1.5 extra full-time gardeners in weeding, pruning and general maintenance.
To enhance visitors’ experience and appreciation of Cannizaro Park - the charity’s second goal - Friends’ organisational volunteers launched a new communications programme, including the monthly e-newsletter, social media, regular posters in the park and our first visitors’ survey. This was built upon our new membership system, which also enabled us to promote our first new event, the ICANN wellbeing event.
The Friends is not resting on its laurels (or should that be rhododendrons?) in 2021/22. As part of a 5 year renewal programme in the park, the Friends is looking to create a Bog Garden above the pond, and to refresh the Rose Garden. The latter involves another partnership with top landscape designers Landform UK, who helped design of the new park entrance, while we are also working with Merton Council on plans to improve drainage in Cannizaro Park. And in another partnership, we have already secured the reopening of the public toilets, with our volunteers’ formidable decoration and maintenance work matched by Merton support and Hotel du Vin’s cleaning staff.
Finally, 2021/22 is seeing the launch of our new events programme, to help visitors enjoy and engage with the nature and history of our Grade II* listed park. The spring Nature Weekend and the return of I-CANN went very well, and in the autumn you won’t want to miss our fantastic inaugural Art in the Park event (19 September), or the continuation of our excellent historical and tree walks!
If you’re not already a Friend - do join up on the Friends' Page. Every new member inspires us! And if you can spare an hour or two to help, Catherine would love to hear from you on email@example.com. The full report and accounts for 2021/22 are available on the Friends Page in the AGM section.
We did it! Final work on the park entrance project wrapped on 17 December, meaning that the renovation was completed on time and in an efficient six months from design to completion.
The strong design from Landform UK was executed by our energetic volunteer gardening team, and funded by crowdfunded donations from our incredibly generous community. New fencing and pathways from Merton Council completed the project.
Landform kindly arranged for professional photographer Brian Whar to create memories of a planting day, which are captured below.
The Friends organise several events each year starting with the Spring Talk,when knowledgeable speakers, in their field, present on subjects which concern gardens, horticulture and others items relevant to the park, its trees, wildlife and plants.
Watch the Events Timetable for the “Park Walks” conducted by experts to point out the specimen Trees, Flora and Fauna as well as the Birds and other Wildlife.
Saturday, 21st January 2023 11:00 am
- 13:00 Guided Walk: Winter Identification
Join this fascinating walking tour led by arboriculturist Greg Packman and discover how to appreciate winter’s beauty alongside fellow nature lovers. Greg will teach you how to identify trees through bark and buds.
Click here to book your ticket through Eventbrite
Some of our volunteers have embarked on a project to help visitors find out about the different species of trees as they explore the Park. They have so far identified over 100 trees and information about many of these, including a tree location map, is now available on the Tree page of this website. A printed version of the map has also been made available from the Park entrance noticeboard and further maps and tree trail guides are being produced. Labelling a selection of the trees with both the common and scientific names, and a QR code containing additional information, which can be read using a mobile phone app, is also part of the project. If you are able to give us feedback on how you are finding the Tree Trail, we’d be very happy to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.