Victoria Park Portsmouth

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Planning the park

Victoria Park was designed for Portsmouth City Council by a London-based landscape designer called Alexander McKenzie. He was paid a fee of £2600.

The trees, shrubs and flowerbeds were planted and laid out by Thomas Short. His plant nursery was on Garden Lane in Southsea. Short was paid £265 and the planting took 3 months.

The main aim of Victorian parks was to provide calm, restful green space at a time when cities were bigger and more crowded than they had ever been. Today parks also aim to provide space for children to play safely, communities to meet and green space that supports wildlife and the environment.

This is a great spot to compare the 19th century plan for Victoria Park with more modern ideas about parks and gardens.

How many of these features can you see from here?

Victorian park

  • Dark evergreen shrubs
  • Large areas of grass
  • Straight paths shaded by trees
  • Flower beds cut into the grass

21st century park

  • Play areas
  • Community building
  • Wildlife-friendly planting areas

Wild and well

City parks have been a great place to find rest and relaxation since Victorian times. Today the benefits for people and the planet are better understood.

  • Regularly walking or just sitting in a green space is good for your mental health
  • Park trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide, helping fight global warming
  • Park trees and plants absorb pollution, making city air healthier to breathe
  • Trees and lawns provide shade and absorb heat, reducing the temperature in streets nearby
  • Plants that are native to the UK and provide nectar, pollen or edible seeds support wild birds and insects.

Mini-wildlife gardens

Do you have a garden or windowsill at home? If so, you can help wildlife too.

A window box or hanging basket can give wildlife valuable food and shelter. Try lavender or thyme for nectar-rich flowers in summer, ivy for winter shelter, and a few snowdrop or narcissus bulbs to give insects food in early spring.

In a garden leave a corner where wild plants can grow all year round, to provide food and shelter for bees, butterflies, hoverflies, moths, grasshoppers and birds.