AGM & Reports

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Minutes of Annual General Meeting held on Sunday 16th January 2022 at 10.30 am at Badger Tennis Club, Church Place

Those present: Board members and 31 residents

The meeting took place within Covid infection control measures including prior lateral flow tests, mask wearing and good ventilation. The planned link via Zoom for those unable to attend could not be set up as access to the venue was, in the event, not available until after the start time for the meeting. The Secretary undertook to apologise for this to those expecting to join via Zoom.

1. Introductions: Andrew Doig introduced himself as the Secretary and took the chair, introducing board members Amanda Catron, Lucy Graubart, and June Mawby. Matthew Evans was unable to attend.

2. Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from Chris & Lucy Goss, Herb & Janine Nahapiet, Matthew Evans.

3. Minutes of AGM held 18th January 2020

The minutes were agreed as a true record.

4. Matters Arising

There were none.

5. Report of the Board for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021

The report had been circulated with the Notice of Meeting and posted on the website kte.org.uk , along with all the meeting papers. Andrew gave a summary of the report. It had been two years since the membership had been able to meet due to COVID concerns. The emergency had brought to the surface conflicts about the use of the gardens during government restrictions but fortunately the community had survived the emergency without lasting division. He spoke of the garden team’s staffing which had changed with the loss of Patrick and the arrival of Kyle and then the replacement of James, the contractor, with George as three day a week employee. The workplace conditions of the team had improved with the installation of a rest hut with heat and light in winter, facilities for washing, tea making and food prep but the WC facilities were still by chemical loo.

The Board had responded to growing interest in environmental issues by ending bonfires as a means of disposing of woody waste while continuing with composting for other green waste. The use of glyphosate had been discontinued and nesting boxes suitable for birds or bats had been erected.

Changing weather patterns had meant warmer wetter winters making for muddy areas where foot traffic was heavy, dry springs with consequent delayed growth of plants, summers with either drought and dying grass or persistent rain. The Board needed to consider ways of adapting to these changed circumstances without detracting from the Regency heritage. Consultation on the options would be conducted with residents on these matters.
The Board had arranged for the replacement of the railings along the north side of Eastern Road, including repairs to the stone plinths. The question of funding the replacement of railings on the other three sides of the North garden was yet to be settled.

It was too early to judge the effect of the rule introduced in 2020 requiring residents to accompany their guests in the gardens. This was because Covid restrictions had probably meant that holiday lets were suspended for the while. The new rule introduced at the same time requiring prior approval of events to which the pubic were invited had so far resulted in just a Carol Concert being approved for the North Garden and the NGS Open Day planned for 25th May 2022 in the South Garden.

Plans to mark the 200 year anniversary of the gardens in 2023 had been advanced with the restoration of the Secret Garden in progress and the coffee table book, edited by Russell Miller with photography by Janine Nahapiet, now in the final stages of preparation.

Andrew ended by thanking Russell and Janine, the gardens team and Voles and the staff at Jonathan Rolls Office who had been so helpful.

A discussion followed on the design of the replacement railings ordered and about to be installed. Mike Osborne wanted the mild steel railings to bear finials of cast iron of the original design of 1823 that had stood there before the second world war. There was a difference of view about the practicality or the desirability of this. The matter was to be taken up by the Board.

Howard Rush queried whether by weeding the cobbles around the gardens we would compromise KTE’s position that the Council was solely responsible for their upkeep. The Board would notify the Council that this action was without prejudice to our case.

Maggie Tattersall noted that the wear and tear on grass had been exceptional during the lockdown period. On dog registrations, it was suggested that the requirement for dogs to display the current year’s dog tag be publicised.

6. Accounts: The examined accounts for the year ended 31st March 2021 had been circulated and posted on the website. Andrew introduced them saying that a small surplus for the year had been achieved and transferred to reserves. He drew attention to the deficit between income from a falling number of dog registrations and the cost of providing the dog waste bins. The meeting adopted the accounts as presented.

Andrew went on to report on the period from the end of 2020/21 to the present time. He spoke of rolling over the existing charges for a the year given that holding an AGM was inadvisable. Nevertheless, with some savings, it had been possible to give the staff an inflation increase and to carry on business as normal, and to create a new part-time second assistant post to replace the part-time self-employed garden contractor.

In order to pursue the 200 year anniversary projects the board had funded the Secret Garden restoration project from reserves, after a private donation had facilitated the proper examination of the flint walls. Reserves had also been used to fund the Eastern Road railings project and to underwrite the publication of the bi-centennary book. This would leave reserves at the year-end reduced from £133K to about £72K and with the completion of the Secret Garden in the next financial year, reserves would stand at around £48K, in March 2023. As the cost of replacing the railings on the other three sides of the North Garden was likely to cost around £125K, agreement would be need on how to fund this.

There was an interesting response from the floor, with the perspective, from Jason Kale, that spreading the cost over a long period could result in cost inflation leaving the railings out of reach and that it was better to collect the cost over say 2 years and hope that cost inflation would not outstrip the estimates in the meantime. Alternatively, Brian Horton felt that waiting a year could see the cost of steel drop from its current peak. The Board undertook to work on these perspectives and come to the next AGM with a proposal.

7. Budget and garden rates for 2022-23: Andrew proposed the draft budget circulated which would see the charge per freehold rise to £1,000. The dog registration fee would rise to £30pa and in support of this, the dog register would be published on-line so that those who paid towards the dog waste service would be known and by deduction those who did not paid could be identified. The proposed budget would allow KTE to give a wage increase to garden staff in line with CPI, to pay the increased rate of Employers National Insurance and to make a contribution to the railings reserve of £10K. The meeting adopted the budget as presented.

8. Appointment of certified accountants: The meeting appointed Peter Chambers & Co to examine and certify the accounts.

9.Election of Directors: The meeting noted the resignations of Ian Clegg, Treasurer, and Mark Harper, Chair, and to acknowledged their contributions.

June Mawby and Amanda Catron had been appointed by the board to fill casual vacancies and they stood down and offered themselves for re-election. Matthew Evans, last elected at AGM 2019, stood down by rotation and offered himself for re-election. Those standing down were re-elected. Michael Osborne was proposed as a board member and this was agreed by the meeting.

Lucy Graubart and Andrew Doig were appointed at the AGM 2020 and remain in office.

10. Rule changes: Amanda Catron spoke to the proposed rule to control the use of drones. After some discussion, this rule was adopted.

11. Head Gardener’s Report: Jeremy Moulsdale gave his report to the meeting, notes of which will be published on the website. Jeremy and the team were thanked, along with the Voles, for their work in keeping the gardens maintained.

11. Issues raised by residents:

i) Russell Miller raised the issue of a resident feeding the squirrels and inadvertently attracting rats. Jeremy had asked the resident to desist and if this did not work, the board would send a letter formally requesting her to desist.

ii) Chris & Lucy Goss asked (via the Secretary) that access to composting food waste be revisited. Andrew said that the board would investigate the possibility of extended to the gardens the local composting scheme that included locked bins accessible only by those signed up and adherent to the regime required.

iii) Chris & Lucy Goss noting the damage to grass underfoot in wet weather, suggested (via the Secretary) that the path around the Lewes Crescent garden be extended around the woodland garden to complete the circuit without walking on the grass. Jeremy spoke at this point about the plan to extend the gravel path from the SW gate along the southern boundary, past wildflower areas and joining up with existing paths by the Secret Garden. The Board would consult on these proposals.

iv) Herb & Janine Nahapiet had sent a message (via the Secretary) saying that they would like to register formally that they regard it as inappropriate to hold AGM’s on a Sunday and would like to know if this is a widely held view, even if the reasons are different from theirs. There were no contributions from the floor on this topic. Andrew explained that the previously used venue was unavailable since the start of the pandemic and that the Spire had only unheated and unventilated rooms. The last resort had been the Tennis Club with its bright and airy room and close proximity to the Estate. Unfortunately, it was only available on Sunday morning. In the circumstances the Board decided to go ahead with a Sunday meeting.

v) Michael Bedingfield raised the question of marking the Queen’ platinum jubilee either with an event, a tree planting or the lighting of a beacon. In response Andrew said that the board would be supportive of an event if it could be organised by KTS or others. Mark Eynon suggested a tree be planted to add to the 6 that were planted for the golden jubilee.

END

To download a copy of the 2022 Kemp Town Enclosures AGM Minutes, follow the following link: AGM 2022 Cover Letterclick here.

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Head Gardener’s Report to AGM January 2021

The year started with a very wet winter, which coincided with more people using the gardens because of the covid restrictions. This meant there were certain paths and areas of lawn near the gates that became very waterlogged and muddy. We did some work to try and improve the worst areas and so far this winter it has been a bit better. But it’s almost impossible to grow grass where there is such a heavy footfall on waterlogged ground. There are no easy answers, but I will continue to monitor the situation and look for possible solutions.  

One of the muddy paths that we will be changing is the one from the SE gate round to the Secret garden, we are going to turn that back to a gravel path, which is how it would have been originally. That will also hopefully stop the puddles building up by that gate. 

When the endless, cold, wet spring finally finished, the garden burst into a riot of colour as the delayed early spring plants bloomed at the same time as the late spring plants. So although the spring was late, when it came it was better than usual. 

While the rest of the summer was not ideal weather for humans, it was perfect for growing plants, with an above average amount of rain between the sunshine. 

I’ve often said what a difficult month August can be when the garden gets too hot and dry. The grass turns brown and the border plants struggle to stay alive.  But this year the grass stayed green and lush, while the border plants kept growing and flowering, putting on a great summer show. I don’t think the garden has ever looked so floriferous in August before. 

The area that I probably heard most compliments about was the new area of wildflowers on the South West lawn. It seemed to be really appreciated by residents and by the insect life that enjoyed it as well. 

The only downside to all the abundant growth was that the weeds loved it too, especially the bindweed, which we really struggled to stay on top of, by the end of the summer it had invaded several areas where it had not been before. This is an ongoing problem and it’s almost impossible to get rid of once it is established under shrubs. It will just be a question of trying to stop it taking over as best we can.

Hopefully you will have noticed the work that Kyle has been doing on the hedges. His care and precision when he works has made a real impact on the hedges this year and that’s made a big difference to how the garden has looked. 

I’m sure you will have seen the work that has started in the secret garden. It’s obviously looking very bare and open at the moment, but once the wall has been rebuilt and the area replanted, it will eventually be more enclosed and secret again. 

I think that by the time the building work has finished this year it will probably be too late to plant up in time for this summer. I’m expecting to plant it up in the autumn (with perhaps some temporary summer plants) which means it’s first full summer with a new wall and new planting will be next year – the bicentenary year. 

As you probably read in the report, the board decided to stop the use of glyphosate in the garden. This does mean that it’s very much more time consuming to keep the paths free of weeds, we will do our best to keep them as weed free as possible, but there will be times when that won’t be possible. This also applies to the cobbles where our only option is to weed them by hand and we don’t have the manpower to do that regularly, so the cobbles will be weedy at times, especially in the summer. 

We have been looking at the future and how we can improve biodiversity and climate resilience in the garden. 
One of the least ecologically friendly areas of the gardens are the lawns. Traditional lawns need fertilisers from fossil fuels and weed killers to keep them in good condition and they support very little biodiversity. 

They also don’t respond well to hot dry summers or wet winters, which are becoming more frequent and extreme. 
There is a big movement around the country to change how lawns are maintained and part of that is to change perceptions of what a lawn should look like. Letting the grass grow a bit longer and allowing more weeds and wildflowers are all part of that. However there is a balance to be struck, because the back drop of green lawns is an integral part of the look and history of the gardens. They are also an important part of the recreational use of the gardens. So I will be doing more research on different maintenance regimes and looking at different options for how to make them more wildlife friendly, while not losing the integrity of the garden. There is luckily a lot of interesting research being done on creating new types of lawns for the 21st century. 

Having said that, one of the things that has already been put in action is the creation of a new wildflower area on the South East lawn along the southern hedge near the secret garden. 

This has already been sown with a mixture of wildflower seeds and will be left to grow longer over the summer. Hopefully it will be enjoyed as much as the other ones in the coming years. 

Despite all the challenges I think it was in general a good year for the garden. We have a great garden team, with Kyle and George joining Ben and myself in 2021. We have also had several new Voles who have swelled the numbers on a Tuesday and make a big difference in helping to keep the borders maintained. So I would like to say a big thank you to my team, the Voles and everyone who has helped keep the gardens looking so good this year. Thank you. 

To download a copy of the Head Gardener’s Report to AGM January 2021, follow the following link: Head Gardener’s Report to AGM January 2021click here.

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Rule change to cover the use of drones in the Enclosures

The AGM of January 2022 adopted a new rule relating to the use of drones in the Enclosures.

The use of personal drones by residents or their guests, is not permitted, in the gardens.

This is not only a safety issue, but also a privacy issue, as all drones carry cameras, even the smallest “toy” under 250g category , which also are capable of carrying a high resolution camera/video. In the event that there were to be an accident with a drone, or privacy incident, the board’s vicarious liability could come into play, as the likelihood is that the personally operated drone is not insured and the person is also not insured for Public Liability, so the claim would no doubt come back to the board and our Public Liability Insurance for the gardens, as the drone is being operated in the gardens and we have the wherewithal to pay the legal liability damages.

Any permission for commercial operation of drones in the gardens be subject to the following checklist:

  • Commercial Drone Operator to carry a minimum of £5,000,000 Limit of Indemnity Insurance for commercial drone activity and be evidenced
  • The Insurance policy to include KTE (or the party who have commissioned the drone operation) as an Additional Insured or to have an Indemnity to Principles extension (this is not an unusual ask and extends their policy to indemnify the person/entity that they are contracting with)
  • Open drone Category with Operator Registration of drone and completed Remote Pilot Competency Requirements
  • Drone MTOW at maximum 5kgs
  • Drone to be operated in visual line of sight
  • Operated at 400ft (120m) maximum height of flight
  • Risk assessment on a “flight by flight” basis to be undertaken, before each flight
  • Category A3 flight – Fly “far from people” (no uninvolved persons present [50m], 150m away from residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas)

To download a copy of the Drone Rule from the AGM January 2022, follow the following link: Head Gardener’s Report to AGM January 2021click here.

Download PDF Download To all shareholders of Kemp Town Enclosures Limited

11th December 2021

Dear Freehold owner,

Enclosed with this letter is a notice of our Annual General Meeting to be held at the Badger Tennis Club at 10.30am on Sunday 16th January 2022. Please would you encourage people who live in your house to attend and please would you nominate one person to represent the freehold at the meeting should a formal vote be necessary. The AGM papers are to be posted on our website www.kte.org.uk so that they are available to all.

The meeting will review the work of the KTE Board since the last AGM (a report is included in the papers attached), set a budget for 2022-23 including the proposed garden rate for the year and vote on an addition to the garden rules to outlaw the use of personal drones in the gardens. Board members standing down by rotation will also be offering themselves for re-election by the AGM.

There will be time for those attending to raise issues that concern them. The Board is appealing for new members to serve on the board. We are currently operating without a chair or treasurer by sharing these roles. If anyone feels they’d like to explore the idea of joining the Board, they’d be most welcome to contact me to discuss this. 

The current board members would be most grateful for your support by attending the AGM. We aim to keep it short and to the point.

Kind regards

Andrew Doig 

KTE Secretary

kte.org.secretary@gmail.com

P.S. Voting by proxy: If you are a freeholder or the nominated representative of a freehold company and unable to attend, you may vote by proxy. Your proxy should be sent by post or by email to the Secretary at 244 Eastern Road BN2 5T or by email to kte.org.secretary@gmail.com by Friday 14th January 2022.

Your proxy should state who is to exercise your proxy vote at the meeting; this may be the chair of the meeting or another member attending. Please state the items on the agenda on which you wish your vote to be cast and whether in favour or against the proposal on the agenda. 

To download a copy of the letter, follow the following link: AGM 2022 Cover Letterclick here.

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Notice of Annual General Meeting to be held on Sunday 16th January 2022 at 10.30am

At Badger Tennis Club, Church Place (to be found behind high brick wall on West side of Church Place)

AGENDA

1. Apologies for Absence

2. Minutes of AGM held 18th January 2020

3. Matters Arising

4. Report of the Board for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021

5. Accounts: To receive the examined accounts to 31.3.2021

6. Budget and garden rates for 2022-23: To approve a budget to include a rise in the garden rate from £950 per house to £1,000.

7. Appointment of certified accountants: To appoint Peter Chambers & Co to examine and certify the accounts.

8. Election of Directors: To note the resignation of Ian Clegg and Mark Harper and to acknowledge their contributions.

June Mawby and Amanda Catron were appointed by the board to fill casual vacancies and they now step down and offer themselves for re-election. Matthew Evans, last elected at AGM 2019, stands down by rotation and offers himself for re-election.

To elect June Mawby, Amanda Catron and Matthew Evans as directors 

Lucy Graubart and Andrew Doig were appointed at the AGM 2020 and remain in office.

9. Rule changes: To adopt a rule governing the use of drones in the gardens. Please see text overleaf.

10. Head Gardener’s Report: To receive a verbal report from Jeremy Moulsdale

11. issues to be raised by residents  

12. AOB

KTE AGM January 2022

Rule change to cover the use of drones in the Enclosures

The Board proposes that the use of personal drones by residents or their guests, is not permitted, in the gardens. 

This is not only a safety issue, but also a privacy issue, as all drones carry cameras, even the smallest “toy” under 250g category , which also are capable of carrying a high resolution camera/video. In the event that there were to be an accident with a drone, or privacy incident, the board’s vicarious liability could come into play, as the likelihood is that the personally operated drone is not insured and the person is also not insured for Public Liability, so the claim would no doubt come back to the board and our Public Liability Insurance for the gardens, as the drone is being operated in the gardens and we have the wherewithal to pay the legal liability damages.

That any permission for commercial operation of drones in the gardens be subject to the following checklist.

  • Commercial Drone Operator to carry a minimum of £5,000,000 Limit of Indemnity Insurance for commercial drone activity and be evidenced
  • The Insurance policy to include KTE (or the party who have commissioned the drone operation) as an Additional Insured or to have an Indemnity to Principles extension (this is not an unusual ask and extends their policy to indemnify the person/entity that they are contracting with)
  • Open drone Category with Operator Registration of drone and completed Remote Pilot Competency Requirements
  • Drone MTOW at maximum 5kgs 
  • Drone to be operated in visual line of sight
  • Operated at 400ft (120m) maximum height of flight
  • Risk assessment on a “flight by flight” basis to be undertaken, before each flight
  • Category A3 flight – Fly “far from people” (no uninvolved persons present [50m], 150m away from residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas)

To download a copy of Agenda, follow the following link: AGM 2022 Agendaclick here.

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Report of the Board to AGM 16th January 2022

The AGM, planned for January 2021 had to be postponed because of COVID restrictions on gatherings. Now a year later, and two years since our last AGM, we meet again to report on our work.

The accounts for the year ended 31.3.20, examined by our auditors, were approved by the Board and submitted to Companies House within the statutory time limit but, for this year only, without the benefit of being presented to an AGM. In April they were posted on our website and freeholders were signposted to them by letter sent out with the garden rate demands for 2021. The charges from the previous year were rolled over to 2021 given that no AGM could be called to approve new charges and the expenditure budget was amended to contain expenditure within the same fixed charges for a further year. All that worked well and we were able to continue the service as normal during 2021. The accounts for the year ended 31.3.2021 are to be presented to the AGM on 16th January 2022.

In April 2021, our Treasurer, Ian Clegg who held a steady hand on the tiller for the past 7 years, had to withdraw after receiving a life-changing diagnosis in April. His contribution on a whole range of issues in finance and beyond has been sorely missed. At the same time, Mark Harper, our Chair of 11 years, had to withdraw because of increasingly heavy work and family commitments. Our gratitude and best wishes go to Ian and Mark.

Fortunately, the remaining board members, Lucy Graubart, Matthew Evans and Andrew Doig were able to carry on the work of the board and soon recruited two new members to fill vacancies on the board. They are June Mawby of 4 Lewes Crescent and Amanda Catron of 4 Arundel Terrace. 

The challenges presented by Covid

The first COVID lockdown was not a happy experience. At the outset and for some time afterwards, the gardens staff stayed at home, but eventually they resumed work once arrangements were agreed with them to enable safe working; arrangements which they operate still. 

Initially, we were all to stay at home by law, with some exceptions including short periods for daily outdoor exercise. The Board was concerned to ensure that the gardens were available for everyone for daily exercise while making it safe for everyone. This included asking people to restrict their visits to active exercise only. While the majority observed the restrictions, inevitably, there were some who asserted that the gardens were in effect their private garden and exempt from the restrictions. This caused quite a bit of conflict, and on one occasion a resident who saw people in the gardens disregarding the rules called the police, while another escorted the police out of the gardens, claiming that the privately owned space was beyond their jurisdiction without a warrant. Appeals were made to residents to restrict their use of the gardens to that permitted by the emergency legislation but the board’s notices on gates to this effect were torn down by those who dissented. Fortunately, at this point the restrictions were eased and the tensions eased without residents coming to blows.

Throughout the emergency and until quite recently, the Board held its meetings remotely by Zoom.

Staffing the gardens team

After losing quite a bit of garden work time to the emergency, the Board decided to extend the hours of the temporary garden contractor, James, who had been helping us get the Chichester Terrace bed back under control and have him help assistant gardener, Patrick, with the work on hedge cutting and so on.

During 2020, concerned about our responsibilities for the health and safety of staff, we convened a review to assess the risk to a staff member of using machinery which appeared to exacerbate an existing health condition. We were advised to explore adjustments to mitigate that risk, but the staff member decided instead to find another job without the need to wield heavy hedge cutting machinery, and so the post of assistant gardener came vacant in March 2021.

We were inundated with applications for the vacancy and from this rich pool of applicants we selected Kyle Smith, who has proved to be an energetic and cheerful team member. His work on cutting the hedges has been impressive. With Kyle in post full time and James working 1 or 2 days a week during the summer we were still struggling to keep things up to standard. As James was unable to offer us more days in the summer months, it was decided instead to end James’s contract and employ a second assistant to work 3 days a week year-round. That decision resulted in us employing George Kearns from September 2021. George is a recent graduate in environmental science and has interesting knowledge of wildflower communities on chalk downland, knowledge which we can put to good use in diversifying the grassed areas of the gardens to make them more sustainable and ecologically diverse. 

So, at present the team consists of Jeremy, 3 day a week as Head Gardener, Kyle, full-time as assistant, George, 3 day a week as assistant and Ben, working as a contractor mowing the lawns and other duties. We have the essential contribution made by the ‘Voles’, the volunteer gardeners who every Tuesday morning help clear beds of weeds under Jeremy’s supervision. With their contribution added to the team’s work, we are now expecting to be able to keep the gardens and the perimeters of the gardens looking well cared for throughout the year. Lucy Graubart has been keeping in touch with the team to ensure a good working relationship between the Board and the team.

Improvements have been made to the gardens team’s working conditions with an electricity supply run into their compound for the first time and a new shelter hut for them to retreat to in their breaks with hot and cold water supplies and heat and light in winter. We have yet to improve upon the hired portaloo for their convenience. A connection to the public sewer would be prohibitively expensive and the alternative septic tank would not be permitted in this built-up area so we continue to look for another solution, perhaps a composting toilet, but one that does not involve the team in its servicing.

Jeremy Moulsdale, Head Gardener will make his report on the gardening year to the AGM. 

Environmental stewardship of the gardens

In pursuit of a more environment-friendly operation, we have agreed to end bonfires in the gardens, to the delight of those who live downwind of them. Instead, all the woody arisings previously burned on site are now taken away by a licensed contractor. All other green waste is composted for use in the gardens. We have also stopped using the systemic weedkiller glyphosate. Concerns about its carcinogenic effect have led the Council to do the same. However, we now have the problem of ridding the paths and cobbles of perennial weeds. The team has experimented with a flame device but that is not safe to use on the cobbles where parked cars are close by. An acetic acid spray treatment has shown limited success and so it is likely that hand weeding, a time-consuming process, will have to be used. 

Perhaps we should mark here the decision to extend our weeding work to include the cobbles beyond the railings around the gardens. We contend that the cobbles are part of the highway and the Council’s responsibility to maintain and repair but the Council continues to deny this despite a lengthy battle, complete with counsel’s opinion on the matter, to convince them otherwise of their duty. In the meantime, residents expect their estate to look its best and leaving the cobbles to grow weeds is not an option.

An ecological survey of the gardens commissioned earlier, did not add significantly to our knowledge of the flora and fauna of the gardens but did prompt us to erect bat and nesting boxes. We avoid disturbance to birds during the nesting season and, of course, can do no work near badger setts so long as they are in use. This restriction, thwarted a plan to tear up the deep goji berry thicket around the horseshoe garden and replant it with more sympathetic species when the entrance to a sett was discovered there.

The Regency heritage and the modern world

With pressures mounting from changing patterns of use of the gardens, from problems with summer drought on the one hand and winter water logging on the other presented by climate change, added to the sharp increase in residents’ interest on ecological diversity, we decided to review our core mission to conserve the Regency character of the gardens in the face of all these legitimate pressures. We started by identifying the garden’s place in British garden history – it is listed as being of national historic interest – and the features and characteristics of the Regency garden that have survived two hundred years to this day. We then went on to identify the pressures for change which we would hope to accommodate without trashing the essential historic character of the gardens. 

This analysis leads us to the thought that we should involve residents in a debate of the issues to help guide future decisions about making changes to the gardens, be it converting more areas to wildflower meadow, encouraging greater diversity of species in the lawns instead of the traditional close-mown swards, making more paths for walking around the gardens when waterlogged grass areas is an issue, replacing water-hungry herbaceous planting with unfamiliar drought- tolerant species and so on. We intend to find ways of engaging our residents with these issues.

Communicating with residents

With the redesign of our website www.kte.org.uk and its facility for posting news and for residents to leave messages and, more recently, to check on large events booked in the gardens, we had thought that the newsletter of previous years redundant. However, it has become apparent that the website attracts little traffic and we need to find other ways to keep people informed and engaged. So we have reinstated the newsletter as a quarterly event, and after two editions it has already provoked a positive response from residents. Encouraged by this, and with the able help of former Sunday Times journalist Russell Miller, we shall continue with this newsletter.

The hard landscape

As part of our duty to manage the risk to residents and staff in the gardens, we now have a periodic survey of the gates, railings, paths, play equipment, benches and buildings to ensure we spot any problems and get them attended to promptly. 

This survey helps us select stretches of railings that need attention. Since the last AGM, we have repainted the southern railings and stretches of the railings on the western side of the South garden. All the railings of the North Garden are of mild steel, ungalvanized, and now badly deteriorated.  To paint them now is to waste money and we must plan for their replacement. The first stretch, that opposite the bus stop, is to be replaced shortly. The funds for replacing the other three stretches of raising that surround the North Garden are yet to be found and this will form part of the discussion on financial matters at the AGM.

During the year, the relationship with the leaseholders of the two cottages at the end of the tunnel came into focus when a sewage emergency caused nasty flooding there. We established that their sewage system, a pumped system as opposed to the usual gravity system, was their responsibility and not ours and so it was that they organised the clear up and the necessary pump replacement.

Behaviour in the gardens

Rule changes made at the last AGM reflect the concern over poor behaviour by some garden users, be it leaving picnic debris, having parties with loud music or holiday visitors bringing in groups of friends for large get-togethers. So, the new rule requiring keyholders to accompany their guests in the gardens was brought in along with the rule that requires prior permission for events that are open to the pubic eg the NGS Open Day, history tours or health walks. These last are admirable events which would be readily approved but there have been others, some of a commercial nature, which were not welcome.

During the COVID lockdown there were some worrying after-hours invasions of the gardens by young people who held drinking parties in the gardens, dragging benches around, damaging tables and leaving debris in the gardens. We began to consider security arrangements which would have been expensive and unwelcome to residents on other grounds. Fortunately, this was a short-lived phenomenon. An evening incursion by a small group of students of the EF school resulted in some  being immediately sent home by the school.

Dogs in the South garden

2022 marks the centenary of the decision to allow dogs to be walked in the South Garden. The North garden remains a dog-free area. The historic record of the gardens committee shows that admitting dogs has not been without its problems over the years. Residents who walk their dogs in the South garden must first register them and pay a fee. This fee is set to fund the dog waste bins service. Registrations appear to have lagged well behind dog ownership and use of the gardens. As an encouragement to residents to register their dogs, the register of dogs is to be published each year after the January dog registration period expires. This is a first step towards identifying those who fail to register.

Regrettably, incidences of dog mess being left for others to clear up have continued, along with dogs being run in the gardens off their leads and residents reporting their alarm at the unwanted greeting they receive from dogs, even those on leads. We dealt with a complaint last summer from a resident who became very distressed by the unwanted attentions of a dog. Dog owners must understand that while they love their dogs, others do not and want to be left in peace by dogs.

Bicentennial projects

With the two-hundred year anniversary of the gardens soon upon us in 2023, we are making progress with two commemorative projects: the restoration of the secret garden flint wall enclosure and a coffee table book celebrating the history of the gardens and estate residents who used them.

With a generous private donation, we were able to get machinery in to tear away the heavy thicket of goji berry that had engulfed the flint wall of the secret garden. This revealed the flint wall to be in a very poor state and it was decided that it would be best to demolish it and reinstate it on a new foundation with support at the back of the wall to retain soil banked up as it had been. The foundations have been laid and the next step is to rebuild the flint wall. As this is to be done using lime mortar, which must not be laid in low temperatures, we are going to have to wait now until the spring to see the completion of the building work and the reinstatement of lawn and planting that will follow.

The bicentennial book has reached an advanced state with drafts of the text by Russell Miller ready to go along with photographs, some historic and others new by Janine Nahapiet. The book is to be available for sale at the NGS Open Day in May and thereafter.

Thanks

We should like to record our thanks to all those who help keep the gardens to the satisfaction of residents, the gardens team, of course but also the Voles for their support, to the staff of Jonathon Rolls, our managing agent, who deal with keyholders and contractors day-to-day, to those who made private donations and to all the residents who contribute so readily to the gardens through the garden rate. Thank you all.

Lucy Graubart, Matthew Evans, June Mawby, Amanda Catron and Andrew Doig (Secretary).

kte.org.secretary@gmail.com

To download a copy of Report, follow the following link: AGM 2022 Cover Letterclick here.

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KTE budget 2022-23

 

 

 

£

EXPENDITURE

    

Garden staff

    

Head Gardener

 

3 days pw

 

£25,878

Asst Gardener 1

 

5 days pw

 

£25,820

Groundsman self-employed

1.5 days pw

£4,894

Asst Gardener 2

 

3 days pw

 

£14,641

Recruitment, protective gear, training

 

952

Total staff pay

   

72,185

     

Gardening expenses

    

Tree surgery/hedge cutting 

 

2000

Equipment maintenance/repairs/renewals/diesel

4500

Plants/lawns/small tools

   

3750

Electricity/water/permits

   

1000

Toilet rental

   

1400

Dog waste bins

   

1800

Gardening total

   

14,450

     

Railings

    

repairs/repainting

   

5000

replacement reserve

   

10000

Railings total 

   

15000

     

Administration

    

insurance 

   

3075

corporation tax

   

38

management fees

   

3895

accountancy fees

   

3280

website/newsletter/publications

4 newsletters pa

3800

meeting expenses

   

261

staff, vols expenses

   

256

bank charges

   

410

sundry

   

0

Administration total

   

15016

     

Expenditure total

 

 

 

116,650

     

surplus/(deficit)

   

0

To download a copy of Budget, follow the following link: 2022/2023 Budgetclick here.

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The enclosed Financial Statements, together with the accompanying notes, fulfils Kemp Town Enclosures Limited statutory requirements for annual reporting.

To download the report, follow the following link: Report of the Directors and Unaudited Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 March 2021 for Kemp Town Enclosures Limitedclick here.

Download Kemp Town Enclosures AGM Minutes PDF Download The Board of Management for Kemp Town Enclosures is voted in at the Annual General Meeting which is held every year, usually in February. Below you can find the minutes from our latest AGM and our latest Gardener’s Report for the enclosures.

MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF KEMP TOWN ENCLOSURES LIMITED

LOCATION: BRIGHTON WALDORF STEINER SCHOOL, ROEDEAN ROAD, BRIGHTON
Saturday 18th January 2020 Attendance:

36 people attended including 5 board members, Mark Harper (Chair), Ian Clegg (Treasurer), Matthew Evans, Lucy Graubart and Andrew Doig (Secretary/minutes)  

1. Apologies for absence: apologies were received from Shirley Collins, Francoise Cosgrove, Chris and Lucy Goss, Ken Richardson and David and Nina Morris 

2. Chairman’s Report

Mark Harper spoke of the very successful open garden event organized with the NGS in June and thanked Janine Nahapiet, the Voles, other volunteers and the gardens team for their part in this success. He spoke of the extra resources employed during last summer to get the Chichester Terrace bed under control and of plans to keep it weed free in future. He described the case put to the Council holding them responsible for the repair of the cobbles around the perimeter of the gardens. After a site meeting with senior Council representatives and our barrister, the Council had flatly rejected our claim. The board had ruled out litigation because of the high cost and risk of incurring the other side’s costs and, perhaps worse, losing and becoming liable for the repair of the cobbles at huge cost to KTE. Mediation had also been decided against for similar reasons. The Council, even if it accepted liability, was unlikely to prioritise the work given their diminished income and other more pressing calls on their resources in the foreseeable future. Mark went on to talk about ongoing efforts to hold the contractor for the southern railings responsible for the rust appearing despite repainting and spoke of the board’s plan to obtain specialist advice on this. Progress with improving the garden team’s workplace had been made by the installation of electricity enabling KTE to provide light and heating in a new cabin to be used for the team’s lunch and tea breaks. He spoke too of progress with developing a system of risk management, in which Jeremy had played an important part, identifying and mitigating risks to staff and garden users. Mark expressed the board’s gratitude to Amanda Kennerley, a resident with specialist knowledge, who had given helpful expert advice. The brief to our agent Jonathon Rolls was being extended to provide periodic reports on the state of repair of hard landscape elements of the gardens eg paths, gates, railings etc., so that the board could take any action needed. He spoke of welcoming to the board during the year, Lucy Graubart and the hope that Francoise Cosgrove might join the board too. 

A discussion followed centred largely on the issue of liability for repair of the cobbles and how it could be pursued, together with discussion of the problem of damage to the cobbles, now and even when repaired, by cars parking in the spaces adjoining. There was a possibility that to prevent this damage, car parking spaces would be lost around the gardens. The future of the cobbles remained unresolved but the question of meditation would be looked at again by the board. In relation to risk, a resident reported that the path in the tunnel was strewn with mud. 

3. Minutes of the AGM 3rd February 2019

The minutes were accepted as a true record.

4. Head Gardener’s report   

Jeremy Moulsdale gave his report on the gardening year (reproduced in full under the News page of our website ww.kte.org.uk). He paid tribute to his team, Patrick and Ben and to the volunteer gardeners, the Voles. He made a plea for new volunteer gardeners to help at the Tuesday morning sessions which volunteers were attended or not as their other commitments allowed. A round of applause followed Jeremy’s report.

5. Financial Statements for the year ended 31st March 2019

 Ian Clegg presented the accounts which showed a small drop in income from the previous year when a large donation had been made for the new mower shed. Expenditure was much as planned. He highlighted the costs of installing electricity to the garden team’s area and the cost of counsel’s advice on the cobbles issue. The year ended with a small deficit which would be covered by reserves.  Ian went on to tell the meeting that in the current year, all income from charges had been received other than that for 3 Arundel Terrace. Expenditure was likely to be within budget at the year end.

6. Adoption of budget and approval of charges for 2020/21

The board proposed that the charges be raised by an inflation element to £950 per freehold house and £314 for individual subscribers with £285 for the cottages at the foot of the tunnel. The proposal was accepted by the meeting.

7. Appointment of Certified Accountants

The meeting approved the re-appointment of Chambers & Co to examine and certify the accounts.

8. Election of Directors

Lucy Graubart who had filled a casual vacancy during the year stood down. Mark Harper and Andrew Doig stood down by rotation. All three offered themselves for re-election and were elected by the meeting. Ian Clegg and Matthew Evans elected at the AGM in 2019 remained in office.

10. Bicentennial Project 2023

Janine Nahapiet spoke of the three themes of the project: yesterday, today and tomorrow, standing back to take a longer-term perspective of what we had inherited, how to celebrate today and make plans to pass on our inheritance to future generations. Projects to celebrate the bicentenary selected so far were the production of a coffee table book charting the history of the gardens, led by Russell Miller, the refurbishment of the secret garden and its flint walls, and plans to research future options for tackling the effects of climate change on historic gardens. A further proposal for creating a grass pathway through wildflower meadows either side of the tunnel mound was being considered. 

Janine called for volunteers willing to lead on projects they felt passionate about for the bicentenary and for others to help with the second open day of the gardens on 11th June. The first opening had raised close to £2,000 for health charities. 

In the discussion that followed, Mark Eynon proposed that a substantial number of new trees be planted in the gardens. Jeremy pointed out that this would change the character of the historic gardens. Bruce Tattersall wanted to see a project in a more prominent position than the secret garden. Vanessa Minns proposed that a mulberry be planted in the North garden. Jeremy said that there was presently no room for this but that a mulberry would be high on the list if a suitable site became available. Janine reported that a knowledgeable visitor to the open day had asked about our strategy for replacing trees given their age and this could be a project for the bicentenary. Stuart Hutchinson and Stella McCrickard each made suggestions about holding charged-for events in the gardens. Janine took the opportunity to obtain the meeting’s agreement to developing a limited number of events open to the public that were focused and limited, in order to raise funds for KTE.

11. Access to the gardens by non-residents

Andrew Doig put the board’s case for making changes to the rules to deal with access to the gardens by visitors. At recent AGMs residents complained of problems arising from the use of the gardens by holiday visitors, for example, by inviting others to join them in parties, by bringing in unregistered dogs, leaving bottles, litter or dog mess in the gardens, playing ball games where they are not permitted, playing loud music or using drones. 

Residents of houses making the annual contribution to the gardens’ upkeep were entitled to have keys to the gardens, provided that they abided by the garden rules. Unfortunately, some residents had interpreted that right to include access to the gardens by their paying guests. And so it was that people who let their flats to holiday visitors, had been loaning out their keys and giving their holiday tenants unsupervised access to the gardens. 

As a step towards tackling this problem, the Board proposed the garden rules be altered to require key holders to accompany their guests and to be responsible for their behaviour while in the gardens.

The board also proposed to change the rules to make sure that any events, to which members of the general public were invited, become subject to prior approval. This was because KTE was potentially liable for the safety and well-being of people entering the gardens. Although it had insurance cover, KTE would be expected to have assessed the risks that each event may pose and satisfy itself that the tour or activity leader was aware of those risks and would take steps necessary to mitigate them. For this reason and for the protection of residents and the gardens from inappropriate access and use, events to which members of the public are to be admitted would require prior approval from the office.

There followed a discussion from which it was clear that the meeting agreed to these changes but wanted the measures for making the rule change about holiday visitors more widely known and means of enforcing them developed. Greater clarity of the rules on gate notices was suggested, as was contacting landlords of holiday lets to ensure they knew that the rules had changed. Widening the discussion to include parties held in the gardens, it was suggested that residents be enabled to check on party bookings via the website or gate notices so that they could challenge or report gatherings that did not meet the requirements of the rules. The board was to consider the suggestions further.

12. AOB

i) Climate change: A suggestion was made that a system be set up to record changes to seafront garden sites and to share results. Jeremy expressed interest in this idea.

ii) Mental health. Sally Richardson suggested that ways be found to enable people with mental health issues to benefit from the healing qualities of our gardens. The wellbeing walks that presently included the gardens were cited as a good start.   

iii) Railings: The need for frequent re-painting of rusted railings, particularly those of the North garden and the very high cost of replacing them in cast iron led Brian Horton to propose that railings in need of replacement be made of mild steel, as in the case of the stretch along the eastern side of the North garden which had not needed frequent repainting. Mild steel railings were vastly more affordable than cast iron, and suitable where the plinths were serviceable and not needing to be replaced. The board undertook to look at this option again.

iv) Statue: Russell Miller asked what the board’s attitude was to a proposal to raise a statue to Thomas Read Kemp in the gardens. Simon Smith intervened to say that this was a proposal being worked on by the Kemp Town Society and not yet a public proposal. Nevertheless, others took the opportunity to say that they opposed the idea of erecting such a statue in the gardens.  

v) Thanks: Russell Miller proposed a vote of thanks to those serving on the board and this was roundly applauded.  

END Download a copy of the 2020 Annual General Meeting Minutes PDF Download.

Download PDF Download

The enclosed Financial Statements, together with the accompanying notes, fulfills Kemp Town Enclosures Limited statutory requirements for annual reporting.

To download the report, follow the following link: Report of the Directors and Unaudited Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 March 2020 for Kemp Town Enclosures Limitedclick here.

Download Kemp Town Enclosures AGM Minutes PDF Download
The Board of Management for Kemp Town Enclosures is voted in at the Annual General Meeting which is held every year, usually in February.

Below you can find the minutes from our latest AGM and our latest Gardener’s Report for the enclosures.

MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF KEMP TOWN ENCLOSURES LIMITED

LOCATION: BRIGHTON WALDORF STEINER SCHOOL, ROEDEAN ROAD, BRIGHTON

Saturday 2nd February 2019

Attendance:

30 members including board members, Mark Harper (Chair), Ian Clegg (Treasurer), Steve Harwood, Russell Miller and Andrew Doig (Secretary/minutes)

1. Apologies for absence: apologies were received from Jonathan Rolls and David Morris

2. Chairman’s Report

Mark Harper spoke of the six meetings held by the board since the last AGM at which a range of issues had been dealt with including the development of a health & safety policy and a plan to provide proper working conditions for the garden team by installing power to the stockade, a heated shelter and a permanent toilet to replace the Portaloo. Following a risk assessment, the tractor mower was no longer to be driven on the public highway and alternative arrangements made for mowing the North garden lawn and the Arundel Terrace lawn. A formal management agreement had been made with Jonathan rolls successors after his retirement from the firm. Matthew Evans a partner of the firm had agreed to stand as a Director of the Enclosures to provide close co-operation and continuity with our managing agent. The Board had appointed Janine Nahapiet as coordinator for the 2023 bicentenary celebrations. Janine was to address the AGM later.

Mark gave an update on the dispute with the Council over responsibility for repairing the cobbles around the perimeter of the gardens. Counsel’s opinion had been obtained, and a claim made to the Council that they were responsible. In response, the council had denied ownership of the cobbles and therefore the responsibility to carry out repairs. A meeting on site with lawyers from both sides present had been arranged for the following Monday.

3. Minutes of AGM held 18th January 2018

These were agreed as a true record. No matters arising were raised.

4. Gardener’s Report

Jeremy Moulsdale listed the achievements of the year including the successful recruitment of Patrick Cam as Assistant Gardener and the subsequent experimental change so that Jeremy could work 3 days and Patrick 5 days a week. Jeremy spoke of the frozen Spring followed by the long hot dry summer and its toll on plants and the lawns. He drew attention to the makeover of the beds in the Secret Garden and the new opportunities for planning created by cutting back severely hedges that had become too deep and high to cut safely. He spoke of the difficulties of keeping the Chichester Terrace shrub bed under control and was going to propose to the board options for making this more manageable, possibly by reducing the bed’s width and reintroducing a strip of lawn. He drew attention to the ecology survey that had been commissioned for the Spring which would help us to manage and maximise the biodiversity of the gardens.

A vote of thanks was passed thanking the gardens team for their work.

5. Financial Statement for the year ended 31st March 2018

Ian Clegg spoke to the accounts which showed income of nearly £107,000, which apart from garden rates of more than £90,000, included £5,000 in charges for lost or second keys and £1,200 in dog registration fees. A generous donation of £6,000 for the new mower tractor hut had been made by a resident. Expenditure had been controlled to produce a surplus for the year of c.£13,000

In answer to questions, Ian confirmed that dog poo bins had been funded by dog registration fees. There was a discussion about the difficulty of policing the dog registration system with holiday let visitors who were given keys by their hosts. This led to a further discussion about the possibility of using electronic fob keys which could be used to deny access to those who failed to pay garden rates or misused the gardens. The technology of fob keys in open air seaside conditions had yet to be adequately tested. Experience of their use at the Marina suggested caution.

The freehold of 5 Arundel Terrace had now changed hands and this presented the opportunity to seek their inclusion in the garden rate scheme. Andrew was to write to the new freeholder. In the current year, charges due since April 2018 for 3 Arundel Terrace, 6 Chichester Terrace, 4 Lewes Crescent and 23 Lewes Crescent remained unpaid.

6. Adoption of budget and approval of charges for 2019/20

Ian proposed the budget published with the agenda papers. It envisaged a rise of 3% to charges with freeholds paying £930 pa. Included in the budget was £5,000 for legal costs in relation to the dispute over responsibility for the cobbles. Plans to run power to the stockade and other workplace improvements for the gardens team would be met from reserves or possibly by donations from generous residents. The budget and charges were approved.

7. Appointment of Chartered Certified Accountants

Chambers & Co were duly appointed to examine the company’s accounts.

8. Election of Directors

Mark announced the retirement of long-serving directors Jonathan Rolls and Jill Sewell. Jonathan had been involved with the management of the gardens since 1980 and had been a Director of KTE since its inception in 1995. Jill, a lawyer, had been a Director since 2007.

Steve Harwood, had indicated that he would like to retire in the summer of 2019. Mark expressed appreciation for the long and useful service of directors retiring now and later this year.

Russell Miller and Ian Clegg now stood down by rotation and offered themselves for reelection as Directors. Matthew Evans a partner in Jonathan Rolls, had agreed to stand and had been nominated by a freeholder. All three were duly elected to the Board. Mark spoke of the desire to recruit a further two directors and invited anyone who was interested to contact him or the Secretary.

9. Bicentennial Just a few small points.

Janine Nahapiet introduced herself and the project she was leading. Her talk had three themes: investing in the gardens and our legacy for the future, one amazing year and celebrating together and finally, extending our community around the estate and beyond. Already Janine had collected numerous suggestions for celebrating 2023 and welcomed more. She had spent time talking with people on the Estate and making contacts with useful people and bodies outside who could help and advise us, including the Gardens Trust. She planned a workshop to help us develop our understanding of the gardens we had inherited so that we had a context for selecting projects that made our mark but enhanced the heritage we would pass on. The restoration of the flint walls enclosing the Secret Garden was an obvious candidate for a bicentenary project. Janine had got together a working party to pursue the project in different ways. She spoke of a plan to produce a new history of the gardens expanding the focus of the present Antony Dale booklet. There were suggestions from the floor of providing a guide to the significant or interesting trees and shrubs in the gardens, or to develop our understanding of the phases of development in the horticulture of the gardens and there was a suggestion to erect a statue of T R Kemp. There was a discussion of how the connection with Lewis Carroll and his Alice in Wonderland should be included, and two residents who were artists each offered work to achieve this. Janine spoke of an aspiration to widen the participation in the garden celebrations by enabling controlled access events which could include people beyond the Estate. The KTS summer party and the Friday evening drinks party were existing examples of this. A one-afternoon opening of the South Garden as part of the NGS scheme was planned for June this year. More ideas would be gathered and evaluated before proposals were made. Janine was applauded for her work.

10. AOB.

i) Brian Horton spoke of the possibility of replacing the iron railings to the North Garden with mild steel railings. He had a verbal estimate of £15,700 for the stretch along Eastern Road. This would be considered.

ii) The question of AirBnB visitors with their dogs and friends being given access to the gardens was raised again. Residents paid for the upkeep of the gardens and this was being exploited by the short- term letting businesses of some flat owners. This led to a return to the earlier discussion of being able to restrict access to those who used the gardens within the rules. The matter remained unresolved.

END

Download a copy of the 2019 Annual General Meeting Minutes PDF Download.

Download Kemp Town Enclosures AGM Minutes PDF Download

DRAFT MINUTES OF TWENTY-THIRD ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF KEMP TOWN ENCLOSURES LIMITED

LOCATION: BRIGHTON STEINER SCHOOL, ROEDEAN ROAD, BRIGHTON

Saturday 20th January 2018

Attendance:

32 members including board members, Mark Harper (Chair), Ian Clegg (treasurer), Steve Harwood, Russell Miller and Andrew Doig (minutes)

1. Apologies for absence: apologies were received from Jonathan Rolls, Jill Sewell, David Morris and Karl Gisholt

2. Chairman’s Report

The Chair began by announcing the retirement of Jonathan Rolls as Secretary and a vote of thanks for his service was moved and passed. Andrew Doig was taking over from Jonathan as Secretary.

The Chair based his remarks on those he published in the newsletter. It had been the first year for a while not dominated by the replacement of the Southern railings. A timber gate had been erected in the Southern boundary hedge, a new tractor/mower had been purchased, Jeremy had planted new beds and significant repair had been done to the tunnel. With the 200th anniversary of the gardens in 2023 in sight thoughts were now turning to marking that event.

3. Minutes of AGM held 18th March 2017

The minutes were agreed as a true record.

4. Gardener’s Report

Jeremy Moulsdale spoke to his report published with the agenda papers. He highlighted his work on the flower bed south east of the woodland garden, where the flowering season started with tulips in spring right through to salvias in November, his replanting of the square bed in the centre of the South garden, and the extension of a bed to the north west of that where a new bench was installed with new planting around it. He spoke of the generous donation of a fine bench and table for the Secret Garden, and of the work by Andy in cutting back the overgrown planting in the Chichester Terrace bed. He spoke of the tree survey and continuing removal of deadwood and of the two large boughs of poplars that had come down in stormy weather. He spoke of the plan to seriously reduce the depth of the southern boundary hedge where it had become too wide for the top to be safely reached for cutting. He and Andy were preparing a new base for a new mower shed generously donated by a resident. He finished by thanking, first his team members Andy and Ben, and then the Voles who helped maintain the beds throughout the year.

In answer to comments and questions, Jeremy confirmed that tree surgery and hedge cutting would be timed as far as possible not to interfere with bird nesting times, that efforts would continue to conserve an area of Lilly of the Valley, that only compost made in the garden or imported from a mushroom farm was used in the garden and that overgrown vegetation around the Horseshoe garden would be cut back from neighbouring paths as part of a larger project for that garden.

A vote of thanks to Jeremy for his work was passed.

5. Financial Statement for the year ended 31st March 2017

Ian Clegg, Treasurer, spoke to the certified accounts. Income for the year of £163,869 included, for a second year, £60,000 from a levy raised for renewal of southern railings, a generous gift of £10,000 towards that project and a further gift of £2,500 towards garden team wages. He was pleased to report that all charges, including the levy made on each house, had been collected. On the expenditure side, while the figure of £171,264, the cost of the Southern railings project, dominated the year’s spending, the other significant sum spent was £22,029 on repair of brickwork to the tunnel and to the path leading to the tunnel. Central costs had risen as a result of using a surveyor for repair and renewal projects at Jonathan Rolls, following the retirement last year of Brian Horton from his voluntary role.

In response to a question from the floor, the abated level of charge for ‘Outsiders’ was explained. There were no plans to admit further ‘Outsiders’.

The accounts were adopted by the meeting.

6. Election of Directors

Marker Harper and Jonathan Rolls retired by rotation as required by the company’s rules and offered themselves for re-election. Andrew Doig stood down as a co-optee and offered himself for election. All were elected unopposed.

7. Appointment of Auditors

Peter Chambers of Chambers & Co was re-appointed to examine and certify the company’s accounts.

strong>8. Garden Rate for 2018/19

A proposal from the Board that the garden rate be increased to £900 for freeholders, £300 for Outsiders and £270 for the Esplanade cottages was approved.

9. AOB

a) Repair of the cobbles: The Chair gave an update on the pursuit of the quest to establish the responsibility of the Council for the repair of the cobbles surrounding the gardens. He spoke of repeated attempts to get Council officers to accept that the cobbles were part of the adopted highway, but without success. The Board had then sought advice from a barrister with relevant experience and he had visited the site with board members. His written advice was expected imminently. The advice was to be used to encourage the Council to engage with the issue at a site meeting at which our barrister would be present to support our case.

Those present debated evidence that pointed towards the Council being responsible. Mike Osborne offered to produce new evidence that the cobbles had been constructed long after the railings had been set upon their plinth, with the implication that the cobbles were not foundations for our railings. Inevitably the arrangements for parking would need to be raised with the Council for it was impossible to park in the spaces as presently delineated without either driving or walking over the cobbled areas and causing them damage.

Steve Harwood identified that the plinth is in poor condition due to root and other damage and had previously been repaired inappropriately with cement. Tilley’s, a specialist stone mason, had indicated there was no worthwhile repairs that could be made. It is inevitable that at some stage KTE will need to spend a significant amount on replacing sections of the plinth, irrespective of the investigation with the Council on liability for the cobbles”.

b) Gardens bi-centenary 2023: The Chair invited the meeting to consider the forthcoming bi-centenary of the gardens laid out in 1823. Ideas aimed at celebrating the event included, an area laid out specifically in the Regency style, a knot garden in the square garden, a digitised record of the Gardens Committee minute book, an update to Antony Dale’s, 1964 pamphlet on the history of the gardens last updated in 1994, a commemorative tree planting by a member of the royal family, and, tongue in cheek, the realisation of an early plan to erect a vast statue of Neptune.

c) Website kte.org: Russell Miller spoke of plans to upgrade the website in such a way that he could update our news easily and frequently, and enable residents to post questions and comments for the Board. Andy of the gardens team had volunteered to set up a Facebook page for the gardens, linked to the website, which Russell would manage. The printed newsletter was to be discontinued but the website and Facebook page offered to enable a group of residents, much wider than those who attended the annual meeting, to participate in the running of the gardens throughout the year.

d) Poo bins: Jeremy reported that the bins were being well used. The positioning of a bin at the tunnel entrance was criticised by a resident as being superfluous. In response to an observation that then cost of the poo bins was greater than the cost of the service, the Treasurer pointed out that the dog registration fee had been increased from £15 to £25 from 1st January 2018 and was now expected to cover the cost of the bin service

e) Bicycles chained to railings: The Board was asked to approach the Council to provide further cycle hoops eg at the bend in the road in Lewes Crescent to provide an alternative for cyclists who presently chain their bicycles to the garden railings. The matter would be referred to the Kemp Town Society for their dealings with the Council.

f) AirBnB: Residents drew attention to nuisance caused by non-resident users of the gardens who were visitors staying in AirBnB lettings on the Estate. The situation would need to be monitored with a view to finding a way of eliminating this nuisance should it persist.

Download a copy of the 2018 Annual General Meeting Minutes PDF Download.

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GARDENER’S REPORT 2017

Prepared by Jeremy Moulsdale

Looking back over the year I have to think about the battering the garden got last winter from the constant wind and rain. While there was no major tree damage, which shows that our tree management programme is working well, we did lose some shrubs which didn’t have the strength to recover when the winds finally eased. Other shrubs did manage dot recover, but not all of them in time to flower this year.

However the summer and autumn was a different story, with lots of sunshine and enough rain to keep the borders flowering well over a long period. In fact, in my opinion I think the garden looked as good this summer as it ever has. The wildflower lawns were in almost constant flower from spring to late autumn.  Last winter’s new planting also added to the colour and interest, with the new border in the North Garden growing well and having a big impact, while the new planting in the woodland also looked good with the foxgloves in particular making an impressive splash.

With the help of a great garden team, we have managed to keep the hedges and lawns cut more regularly with Andy doing a huge amount of work on the hedges, Ben cutting the grass regularly and a great group of volunteers, ‘the Voles’, who help keep the borders looking good by doing a huge amount of weeding and tidying.

On the down side, we did lose two trees to Dutch Elm disease this summer, not in the woodland area where I was expecting it, but next to the stockade near the south-east gate.

More recently, we have created another new border which came about because we had to remove a huge dying Buddleia Globosa next to the rose bed. I was a bit nervous about cutting it down because it was so big, but the area has now been planted and I’m excited to see how it grows. I hope it will be a big improvement, because together with the rose bed it creates a big new border that extends all around the south east side of the woodland. In addition to that, it has also opened up the woodland to more light. Which means I have been able to plant a lot of mostly British native hedgerow to provide nesting sites for birds as well as berries and flowers. That means that if the elm trees and their suckers die off there there will already be a new source of food and shelter for wildlife.

Also in the woodland area is the new sculpture. I am of course thrilled and honoured to have one of my sculptures in the garden and very thankful to all the people who made donations towards it. I have planted up the area around it with perennials which I hope will set it off beautifully as they grow.

On Chichester Terrace I am planning this winter to prune some of the overgrown shrubs and replacing dying ones with new planting. So there will be some gaps for a while until the new plants grow.

I’m also planning on cutting back some more of the hedges from the railings, around the North Garden.

With the new southern railings in place I am often asked what my plans are for theatre: The short answer is to leave it more or less as it is: Because the hedge is so high there has to be space between it and the railings to put up ladders etc so we will have to keep the strip of grass: However in the long term I would like to even up the hedge a bit; so where the grass is widest I will plant some new hedging and where it is thinnest I will cut the hedge back a bit to create a more even look: On the garden side of the hedge I will cut it back quite drastically in some places: It has grown so wide that at its widest it is over 8 metres which makes it very difficult to cut; so in some places it will be cut back to help us maintain it and to stop it hollowing out in the middle.

There are so many variables in a garden that are hard to predict or control, like the weather, disease and if the squirrels are going to eat all the tulip bulbs, or just some of them! But I am optimistic enough to think that most things will go well and that the garden will continue to go from strength to strength.

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GARDEN MANAGEMENT STATEMENT 2017

PREPARED FOR THE BOARD OF KEMP TOWN ENCLOSURES, SEPTEMBER 2017, BY ANDREW DOIG, A BOARD MEMBER, IN DISCUSSION WITH JEREMY MOULSDALE, HEAD GARDENER.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

These private town gardens, extending over 3.24 hectares,(7.5 acres) were laid out in the 1820s for the residents of the Kemp Town Estate by Henry Phillips, landscape gardener and Henry Kendall, surveyor as part of the wider Regency development of the Kemp Town Estate The gardens form the focus of the Regency layout of the estate: Sussex Square to the north opening out onto Lewes Crescent at the southern end. The gardens thus comprise a semi-circle facing the sea with an adjoining rectangular plot to its north. Flanking either side of Lewes Crescent and also facing the sea are Chichester Terrace to the west and Arundel Terrace to the east1. Both terraces were originally fronted by grass lawns between the Estate road and railings along the coast road boundary, but now the site of the lawn fronting Chichester Terrace has been replaced by an attractive and varied shrubbery. Henry Phillips’ planned scheme included shrubberies with untrimmed shrubs giving an informal appearance, mounded to provide privacy and protection for the plants. This followed the style of shrubbery planting as outlined in his book Sylva Florifera. 20,000 plants were subsequently ordered and planted under Phillips’ supervision, including semi-mature trees, shrubs and flowering plants, and gravel walks were put down. The original layout divided the central gardens into three spaces, each surrounded by roads and railings. The South Garden as we know it today was divided in two by a continuation of the Lewes Crescent carriageway across the gardens. The gardens committee quickly dispensed with this division, tearing up the carriageway, selling off the railings and joining the two southerly gardens into the present South Garden. The North garden survives as originally laid out but both the North and South Gardens have lost their central gate onto Eastern Road, once part of a north-south axis through the gardens envisaged when traffic on Eastern Road and the coast road was negligible by today’s standards and residents might have walked through the gardens from the top of Sussex Square to the coast with the sea in view all the way. The perimeter path that once followed the southern boundary with the coast road, and the southern gate on to the coast road, were lost when a strip of land was taken for road widening in the 1930’s. The North Garden has a perimeter walk set inside a ring of shrubbery and trees, mainly self-sown sycamores. Part of the ground was levelled to form a croquet lawn, later a tennis court, and during the second world war, a water tank for fire-fighting. It is now a central lawn. The growth of overhanging trees has gradually diminished the opportunities for successful planting of shrubs, herbaceous plants and annuals. A year or so ago, a piece of the south-facing lawn, open to sunlight, was dug out to create a flower bed at the request of people who use the North Garden and wanted to see more colour in the garden. The South Garden is entered from gateways on west and east sides. These gateways lead onto paths which meet at a central shrubbery of the original layout, which became flower beds in Victorian times, later becoming neglected and overgrown with self-sown sycamores. This area now comprises a formal square garden enclosed by a yew hedge with a raised and planted bed, sheltered by the surrounding trees and shrubs. A woodland garden has been created in the shady conditions along the path from the square garden to the south. As this path emerges from the woodland area it reveals a view of the sea across the wide lawn of the Lewes Crescent gardens. Here, at the sundial, the path divides to provide a perimeter walk, broken along the southern boundary by the loss of land for the road widening scheme. Recently this land has been returned by the Council. The railings reinstated and a grass strip mown between the railings and a vast euonymus and tamarisk hedge that has developed since the 1980’s, screening the gardens from the coast road. A path leads down to the tunnel which is central to the axis of the gardens. The tunnel passes under the coast road, providing a link between the gardens, the Esplanade, with a reading room beneath, long since abandoned, and the slopes down to the seashore below. All were once part of the Kemp Town Enclosures offering the Estate’s residents an unparalleled realm of private seaside gardens and amenities. In 1995, the gardens, along with Duke’s Mound, were listed in the Register of Historic Parks or Gardens by Historic England: Grade ll. Registration does not confer any additional legal protection but designates gardens as heritage assets as set out in the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework 2012. As such, when planning permission is required, the significance of a registered garden or its setting will be taken into account. New landscaping, planting and other works within these parks should respect their historic landscape design and seek to preserve and enhance their character. The gardens form part of the Kemp Town Conservation Area4 which includes the whole Kemp Town Estate. All the buildings facing the enclosures are listed Grade l. The tunnel entrance, including embankments, and the Esplanade cottages are listed buildings too (Grade ll).

MANAGEMENT OF THE GARDENS

In keeping with their origin in the Regency period, the character of gardens is maintained in the fashion of the time. The English landscape garden tradition exemplified by the work of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was, at that time, giving way to a more intimate and picturesque style mirroring developments in landscape painting at the time. ‘Capability’ Brown had given his aristocratic clients vistas of lawns, adorned by groups of trees, sweeping down to newly-made lakes with glimpses of classical temples and bridges seen from a grand country house. This style was being succeeded by gardens of a more intimate scale, reflecting the huge growth of urban and suburban living from the start of the 19th Century. Here gardens and buildings were more closely associated and both of a smaller scale. The Kemp Town gardens of 1828 were designed to complement the white stucco terraces of the new Estate that surround them and form their backdrop. The design of the gardens is part of the transition in gardening styles of the period. The emerging style was essentially naturalistic and romantic, with loose shrubberies bordering open lawns and enjoyed from serpentine paths providing walking circuits around a succession of spaces each delivering a picturesque view. Natural groups of trees were positioned in shrubberies or rose from the grass as if glades by the forest edge. The edges of garden spaces were sometimes assigned to a contrived ‘wilderness’, a romantic but highly managed illusion. Many of these features are represented here, particularly the serpentine paths, the shrubberies and tree set in lawns. Until the Great Storm of 1987, in true Regency style, a group of Monterey cypress stood in long grass by the western side of Lewes Crescent, their canopies of dark green needles making a strong contrast with the white stucco behind them. The Regency fashion for garden follies was represented here by a rustic wooden summerhouse which had been an original feature of Henry Phillip’s layout. It stood in the south-west corner of the gardens until it rotted and was demolished in 1935. The choice of flint facing over the tunnel entrance provides a reminder of the flint grottos of the period. The changing style of gardening during the period was also driven by a desire to embrace the new and exotic plants which became available in the late nineteenth century, brought home from around the world by British plant hunters exploring the flora of the world in the wake of British conquest or trade. In a short space of time, the palate from which planting schemes could be drawn exploded with new introductions from around the world, many of which grow happily in Britain and which today we take for granted as garden plants. Many of the new introductions required a more intimate scale of gardening to display them than the English Landscape style afforded. Regency gardens included flowering perennial and annual platns as well as larger shrubs.

GROWING CONDITIONS

The gardens are arranged on a site facing the sea, just 40m below and 400m to the South. While the sea moderates extremes of temperature, exempting the gardens from the worst frosts inland, the seaside setting brings with it exposure to strong, salt laden winds which desiccate and damage plants and trees. Providing shelter from the winds is a major consideration in gardening here. It is also important to the enjoyment of the gardens by residents. These clifftop gardens are grown on a thin chalk soil which is very free draining, so water is not long retained and the soil dries out quickly. In a dry summer only the most drought tolerant plants will survive and while some watering can be done to secure new planting, it is not practicable to grow plants that need a lot of attention. Plants selected for the gardens have to be drought tolerant, wind tolerant, salt tolerant and able to tolerate an alkaline soil too. While efforts are made to create shelter from the winds, creating shelter also means creating shade from the sun and if shade tolerance in a plant were to be added to the other factors above, the list of plants suitable for the conditions here would be very small. Trees and shrubs that give shelter will also take a lot of moisture from the beds, so the premium sites in the garden are the ones that have sun as well as some shelter from the wind, but at the same time situated not too close to trees and shrubs. Such optimal sites are rare indeed. Creating better soil conditions is a major consideration and tonnes of mushroom compost are added to the beds every year, in addition to the compost made on site. This improves moisture retention and plant nutrition. However, adding compost to improve the soil, can cause some plants eg sedums, to grow too lush and tall only to be knocked over by the wind The challenging environment of the gardens here also mean that some plants may grow but live shorter lives than they would in other more conducive conditions. Plants frequently die off and need to be replaced.

FUNDING AND OVERSIGHT OF THE GARDENS

Since they were laid out in the reign of George IV, the gardens have been overseen by a committee drawn from residents of the 100 houses of the estate and funded by an annual charge paid by residents who use the gardens. This creates a strong sense of ownership by residents and the gardens are managed in response to their needs and preferences. In recent decades the gardens have enjoyed renewed popularity and their use has intensified and become more varied. Residents use them for jogging, dog walking, ball games, children’s play or just sitting, sunbathing or having picnics or drinks with friends at sunset. They are also used to mark the great occasions of their lives, from wedding parties to birthday parties and the memorial of loved ones. The management of the gardens has always sought to respond to residents’ changing use of the gardens while preserving their essential character. The committee reports to an AGM well-attended by residents. The gardens are maintained by a gardening team led by Jeremy Moulsdale. Jeremy oversees the work of part-time and sessional gardeners, lawn and hedge cutting contractors, tree surgeons and a weekly session of volunteer gardening by estate residents. The cost of maintaining the soft landscape is £61,250 pa (2017/18).

TREES

The thin soil combined with the strong winds is a challenge for most trees. If trees get too big, especially conifers which hold their needles year-round, they tend to blow over as the soil is too thin to support them. A regular survey of the trees is carried out to identify specimens that are vulnerable and a programme is in place to prune and reduce trees where necessary. The aim is to have good safe specimen trees that are not too big. They should be of overall benefit to the garden, aesthetically, horticulturally, and environmentally. Most of the trees present today are self-sown, for example the sycamores and holm oaks, or have suckered from other trees, for example the elms. Few are ornamental trees but are instead forest trees and they have established themselves during the long period of neglect between the outbreak of the second world war and the revival of the gardens from the 1980’s. They stand along the perimeter beds of the gardens and in the central bed of the South Garden that has become the woodland garden. The original scheme would have featured small groups of ornamental trees grouped in lawns or in shrubberies. These perimeter trees have been disappearing slowly over the years as they are felled because they have become diseased and dangerous, or because of the damage they have caused to the perimeter railings and their plinths. Over the last few years as Dutch elm disease has spread into Brighton quite a few elm trees have been lost from the gardens and it is possible that all may be lost in the coming years, including a rather magnificent specimen in the woodland garden. The loss of many of the small overcrowded elms has been a benefit in opening up the woodland garden, but to lose some of the more established specimens would be a pity. Trees have proven valuable in providing shelter for plants and garden users from fierce seaside winds. In 1990 a series of parallel rows of trees were planted in the southwestern corner of the Crescent’s garden specifically to shelter the garden from the prevailing south-westerly winds. The effectiveness of this shelter belt is limited to a small area of the South lawn within its lee. In places, particularly around the North Garden and the woodland area, tree canopies have grown and spread to cast into shade shrub and herbaceous beds beneath them that now struggle for want of light, nutrients and water. As a result some beds have been expanded beyond the overhanging trees in order to make them viable for planting to meet the demand for colour and variety. Over time, this changes the layout and character of the gardens, making the gardens more shady, with ever wider and drier beds beneath. A case could be made for reducing the dominance of the tree canopy instead by selective felling of self-sown sycamores, allowing sufficient light for the renewal of the existing shrub and flower beds below. The current policy is not to replace trees lost in the perimeter beds for the sake of maintaining or restoring the light and views into the gardens which are valued by residents of the surrounding houses and also to prevent further damage to the railings. Similarly, where trees are taken down elsewhere they are generally not replaced. The exception to this rule is the central embankment above the tunnel where the Council’s tree officers are keen to maintain the shelter belt and may require replacements to be planted. Smaller flowering trees may be used to replace trees lost from sites away from the railings. Surgery to all but the smallest trees within the Conservation Area requires the consent of the Council. A professional survey7 of all the trees in the gardens has resulted in a two-year plan to cut back trees which are diseased, leaning or otherwise dangerous. This plan does not address the overshadowing of planting beds. It envisages the removal of only one tree.

HEDGES

Perimeter hedges formed no part of the original scheme. There was once an uninterrupted visual connection running between the facades of the houses, their railings, the hard landscape of the street and the central gardens through the perimeter railings. However, that was before the advent of extensive car ownership. The hedges have proven valuable for screening out parked cars and motor traffic along the adjoining carriageways and have made possible herbaceous planting in this windswept seaside location. In 1900, one thousand evergreen shrubs and trees were planted in the gardens together with 50 variegated hollies given by a resident and in 1923 a wholesale replanting took place of the euonymus buttresses inside the railings. 100 cuttings had been taken yearly for some years in order to make this possible. This was the last occasion upon which this operation, that would have been repeated periodically throughout the history of the gardens whenever necessary, was carried out on a large scale. The hedges make an essential contribution to sheltering less robust plants in the gardens and making sitting out more comfortable. They are mostly evergreen, euonymus, eleagnus and the like, which give wind protection year-round but on the eastern side of the gardens, which does not face the prevailing winds, there are some stretches of deciduous shrubs between buttresses of evergreen hedging. The current policy is to retain the hedges, keeping them cut to a height a little above railings. Gradually all the hedges are being cut back well clear of the railings so that they may be kept trimmed along their outward facing sides and the railings made accessible for painting or, eventual, replacement.

PLANTING

The shrubberies of the original concept include herbaceous perennials with spring bulbs and summer annuals providing colour and interest. The annuals fill spaces left by casualties or created by new planting schemes which have yet to fill out to their intended potential. In the nature of things, when trees become dangerous or shrubs become ancient and woody, they are replaced by new planting schemes and this is how the gardens are renewed, not to a rigid plan of new planting, but organically in response to the life cycle of plants. So it was that in 2012 when the macrocarpa trees overhanging the western boundary of the Lewes Crescent gardens had to be taken down, the opportunity was taken to create the Jubilee garden at that site, with hedge plants renewed, the perimeter path reinstated and an island bed created of herbaceous plants and spring bulbs. Similarly, as diseased trees were taken down on the western side of the woodland area and new light reached the understory, the opportunity was taken to replant the area with native woodland species including a display of foxgloves and a ground cover bed of arum lilies, hellebores and other shade loving plants. When a vast old buddleia shrub was taken down to the east of the woodland garden in 2016, a new a wider bed was created with fresh herbaceous planting and shrub roses that would thrive in the relatively sheltered environment there. It is possible that as further tree surgery is carried out there will be further opportunities for new planting. A balance is being struck between creating naturalistic planting and a more ordered look. Allowing existing plants to self-seed and spread in swathes can help to create a naturalistic look while avoiding a complete jumble of different plants growing together in a disordered way. This involves choosing on a daily basis which seedlings to weed out and which to let grow, and this is almost as important as choosing what new plants to establish. The exposed conditions in the gardens has led to a practice of planting new shrubs closer together than is normally suggested because they can then protect each other from the winds as they grow. Once established, they are then thinned out to allow specimens to grow to their natural size and shape. Because the gardens were so long neglected, many of the beds have become infested with perennial weeds that are difficult to eradicate, the worst offenders being bindweed and ground elder. There is no way to get rid of these once they are established except by digging out the bed, leaving it fallow for at least a year and spraying any weeds that appears. This is quite a drastic solution and is not something resorted to so far, but could be an option in the future for some areas badly affected by perennial weeds. In keeping with the naturalistic style of the gardens there are no dramatic colour schemes, but on the other hand the shape, colour and texture of foliage and flowers is considered and balanced harmoniously in each new planting. Opportunities are taken to extend the range of perfumes that can be enjoyed in season. Perfumes are more readily noticed in the sheltered areas and so scented plants are more likely to be planted in these areas. The eleagnus hedges, for example, provide wafts of heady scent and so too does the wild garlic in the dell leading down to the tunnel. Euphorbia mellifera, the honey spurge, offers its powerful annual honey scent in sheltered spots.

LAWNS

The lawns are an important feature of the garden style. The lawns of the Lewes Crescent gardens have long been used for active pursuits including until lawn tennis until well into the 20th century. Today they are well used for walking, sunbathing, for picnics, events and for ball games. An experiment with providing barbecue facilities was discontinued when complaints about smoke and cooking smells were received from adjacent houses. In recent years, all the lawns have been brought up to a good standard by regular mowing and by an annual weed and fertilizer treatment.

THE NORTH GARDEN

Originally, the North and South gardens had gates facing each other across Eastern Road, then a quiet road, so that residents could walk easily from the North garden down through the South garden and to the Esplanade below via the tunnel. With traffic on Eastern Road long since making this route unattractive the gates are gone and the North Garden isolated as a separate garden, now with its own character. Quieter than its southern neighbor, the garden is reminiscent of London squares, with a terrace of houses on three sides and bordered by a perimeter belt of trees with shrub beds below surrounding an open central lawn. The tree belt is mainly of self-sown sycamores, which dominate the streetscape outside and enclose the gardens inside, particularly in summer when a deep shade is cast over the perimeter beds, draining the soil of moisture and making it impossible to grow anything other than shade tolerant shrubs and ground cover. There was originally a bed in each corner of the central lawn, but these too have become overshadowed by the perimeter trees and by other trees grown in the beds. In response to the lack of space in which to grow flowering plants, a bed was dug out of the lawn on the sunny north side recently to create a flower bed. There is scope for thinning the surrounding canopy and thinning out the press of trees whose canopies vie for the same patch of light, in order to produce a less crowded and more ordered look, restoring light to the beds below and restoring some residents’ views into the gardens. Such a move would require the consent of the Council under tree preservation law and, more controversially, the consent of the residents, amongst whom opinions on the trees are divided.

THE SOUTH GARDEN

BANK ABOVE THE DELL
A deep bank of mature evergreen trees has developed on the bank above the Dell providing shelter from the coastal winds to the area in its lee.
THE DELL
The deep depression that leads down to the tunnel from the South lawn and the bank that has been thrown up from excavating the tunnel creates a distinct environment. Heavy cover of the embankment by mature evergreen trees encloses this shady place and in this setting, evergreen shrubs and ground cover clothe the scene in dark green, with touches of fresher green in spring and summer from the few deciduous shrubs, eg cornus and philadelphus.
THE HORSESHOE
A small and intimate sheltered area in a horseshoe shape enclosed by an original halfheight flint wall, surrounded and topped by shrubs, ivy and goji berry plant. This is a much favoured spot in which to enjoy the sun, out of the wind. The area has one bench inside the enclosure and another in its lee. The central grassed area is surrounded by a small bed of perennial shrubs eg hebe and daphne. The soil remains curiously dry despite liberal additions of compost and so the range of plants that will thrive here is limited. The scope for tidying up the, sometimes unruly, enclosing foliage is limited without the near-impossible eradication of the ever invasive and expanding goji berry plants.
JUBILEE GARDEN (2012)
When some large cupressus macrocarpa pines had to come down because of wind damage to them and the damage they were doing to the garden plinths and railings, the opportunity was taken to create a new bed, and reinstate the path that once followed the perimeter of the Lewes Crescent lawn. Here shrubs and herbaceous plants were closely spaced to provide mutual shelter from the wind that scours this side of the garden. With some careful support the planting was successfully established and can now be thinned out. At the same time the scrappy shrubs making a hedge along this section of Lewes Crescent were taken out and replaced with new shrubs, including grisellinia littoralis, appropriate to the role of enclosing and screening the gardens from the seaside winds and the cars parked along the carriageway.
CENTRAL BED
This bed is in two parts, either side of the central path. The Western section is devoted to a children’s play area beneath some fine white poplar trees. The Eastern section, despite being exposed to the full blast of the wind from the South West is something of a display bed. It is backed by a huge evergreen holm oak with some low shrubby branches and by a cupressus macrocarpa, kept trimmed to a low lollipop shape. Here canna and fennel, flower in summer amongst shrubs including phormium.
SQUARE BED
Hidden within the woodland garden and sheltered by a massive belt of trees is a formal garden, with a square central bed now planted with dahlias and rudbeckia and surrounded by a low hedge of muehlenbeckia. Gravel paths border the bed with a seat on each side, set into yew hedges. The hedge on the north side is semi-circular. The bed is reasonably sunny from midday until late afternoon and well sheltered from wind by the yew hedges and the trees behind them.
WOODLAND GARDEN
Just to the South of the square garden two paths converge beneath a canopy of trees. The tree cover has been thinned in recent years and the opportunity has been taken to plant beneath with woodland species eg arum, hellebore and foxgloves.
ROSE GARDEN
Either side of the central path, a deep bed of roses, lavender and other shrubs is lightened in spring by a display of tulips. The beds extend northwads either side of the woodland garden with less showy shrubs and plants eg eryngium, nepeta and teasels
POLLY BINDER COPSE
Named after Pearl Binder, Lady Elwyn Jones, the illustrator and one-time resident of 18 Lewes Crescent, this sheltered garden sits in the lee of an original landscaping earthwork. The earthwork is topped by trees. including a fine wych elm and some white poplars. An intimate space has been created with mown grass paths behind the deep bed that provides a year-round colourful display to the path around the main lawn. Highlights of the year include the red cornus stems in winter, the spring bulbs and summer’s flowering shrubs. On the exposed south side of the earthworks wild flowers are encouraged. Two seats provide elevated views across the perimeter hedge to the sea, for those prepared to brave the wind.
THE SECRET GARDEN
Part of the original scheme, this oval shaped space once housed the gardener’s cold frames and greenhouse, all now housed in ‘the stockade’ immediately to the north. The enclosed and sheltered nature of the space is achieved by an original half-height flint wall, now much deteriorated and hidden in part by the shrubs that surround it. A separate euonymus hedge of recent date, set back from the flint wall, almost completely surrounds it and could enable the flint walls to be exposed and rebuilt at a future date without losing the garden’s role as a place of refuge from the wind in all seasons. A bench overlooks a central lawn surrounded by a herbaceous border.
CHICHESTER TERRACE GARDEN
Originally a lawn running between the seafront railings and the carriageway of Chichester Terrace, this garden was made into a shrub border when, in the late twentieth century the railings, missing since the second world war, were replaced. It is very long and deep as a border and necessarily absorbs a lot of the gardening team’s time. The effect has been marred by a later decision to create echelon bays for parked cars right next to the border. The cars obscure the view of the border from the lower floors of the houses and from the pavement. In recent years the garden team have sought to simplify the planting and to make it accessible for weeding and, as elsewhere in the gardens, to keep the shrubs clear of the railings.
ARUNDEL TERRACE GARDEN
The residents of Arundel Terrace made different choices for the lawn and carriageway in front of their houses. When the railings were replaced, the original lawn was retained and when the parking control scheme was introduced residents opted for parking parallel to the carriageway. These choices result in a more open and simple garden: a lawn with fewer cars parked in front of it. A euonymus hedge was established along the railings, but unfortunately placed too close to them to allow for their painting and repair. A second hedge is now being established on the inside of the first hedge to succeed it eventually.
SEATING
The popularity of the gardens for sitting out, enjoying picnics and summer evening drinks has risen dramatically in recent years and in response more benches have been provided such that there are now very few places where new benches could be accommodated without the gardens losing some of their naturalistic look.
WILDLIFE AND ECOLOGY
Wildflower areas have been introduced on the south-west slope of the embankment over the Dell and on the south-facing slope of the Polly Binder copse. Here crocuses, cowslips, scillas, ox-eye daisies and wild marjoram are being established. Longer grass in these areas attracts insects such as meadow brown butterflies. In areas of new planting, species are chosen to attract butterflies, bees and other insects. Work to hedges and trees is planned to avoid, whenever possible, bird nesting season. Foxes have long been resident in the gardens. Their presence is not a nuisance except where food is left lying around or pets are buried or more frequently where funerary ashes are deposited provoking foxes to dig around. Badgers have a sett in the bank above the Dell area with more recent digging near the Horseshoe. Rabbits, once a problem in the gardens, with their penchant for nibbling emerging plant growth, have been absent since an outbreak of disease a few years ago. The presence of squirrels is evident in damage to trees where their habit of stripping bark has killed off branches. The tree survey has identified significant damage by squirrels and proposes lopping to prevent those branches affected from falling. While woody prunings are burned or taken away from the gardens, all the green product that will compost is recycled in heaps dotted around the gardens. Four compost heaps provide significant quantities of home-made compost to nourish the shrub and flower beds.
CHILDREN’S PLAY
A play area for small children has been successfully established concealed within a shrubbery in the South Garden. The bark chippings beneath the play equipment is renewed every few years.
MANAGING RENEWAL AND CHANGE
Much of the attention of the Enclosures Committee has to be focused on the challenges presented by the ageing infrastructure of the gardens: the crumbling stone plinths, the cobble stone gutters that surround them, the rusting railings and so on. Meanwhile the management of the soft landscape which focusses on the lawns, the trees, hedges, shrub and plants continues in an organic way responding to challenges and opportunities presented by nature. The guiding principles are that the character of the naturalistic and romantic Regency style should be respected, while serving the residents’ enjoyment of the gardens. Since the gardens were originally laid out, nearly 200 years ago, in the Regency period, change and adaptation to meet contemporary needs has occurred in almost every era, yet the overall character survives. When tennis became a popular game in the 1880’s, courts were laid out in the South Garden, involving the levelling of the gently sloping lawns to provide level platforms for play. This was a departure from the character up until that point and it caused furious controversy amongst residents, but tennis was played in the gardens for decades afterwards, thankfully without permanent damage to the character of the gardens. A croquet lawn laid in 1890 lasted for the next 45 years. Perimeter hedges were not part of the original plans or characteristic of Regency gardens, however the ravages of the prevailing south-westerly winds and the increasing intrusion of the motor car made a perimeter hedge essential both for growing plants and for enjoying the gardens without the disturbing sight of moving traffic and lines of cars parked close by the railings. In the same spirit in recent times, alterations have been made to accommodate the changing interests and needs of residents with provision being made for play by small children, for encouragement of wildlife in the planting and management of grass, trees and hedges and increasingly to accommodate residents’ need to commemorate loved ones in the gardens that they once used. For nearly two centuries, change has been accommodated in the gardens to meet changing needs and circumstances, but the essential character of the gardens survives. Download a copy of the 2017 Gardener’s Report PDF Download.

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