Winter work at The Grotto, Wanstead Park

Recent visitors to the park will have noticed a good deal of activity around The Grotto. What is happening is that Geoff Sinclair, Epping Forest’s Head of Operations, has initiated a programme of work to open up the area, which has long appeared sadly neglected and overgrown.

The work is being carried out in three phases over the coming winter.

Phase 1: Opening up the area by clearance of woody vegetation and bramble

Phase 2: Clearance of the woody vegetation from within the Grotto.

Phase 3: Landscape assessment of remaining mature trees & works as required.

As shown on the map, the area has been divided into four zones. The plan for each is set out below.

2013 Grotto Clearance works

Area A

Convert to open ground by felling all woody vegetation except for the large Sycamore and Yew trees. All stumps to be flush with ground level. Current vegetation mainly Elm and sycamore.

All cut material to be removed from the site so that it is clear to be regularly flailed.

The dead monoliths of Sycamore to be felled following bat checks. These are getting unsafe and are close to busy paths.

Future management: Area to be flailed twice a year to control the woody regrowth and convert to a grassy condition with a couple of notable trees on it.

Area B

Pond side area. All woody vegetation to be felled to ground level except for the mature trees and stump regrowth.

Later assessment to be undertaken on works to the mature trees to assess whether to retain or fell. No action proposed at this stage

Future management: Cleared area to be kept open with regular cutting of the stump growth.

Area C

Flail the bramble dominated areas.

Future management: Area to be flailed twice a year to control the woody regrowth and convert to a grassy condition.

Area D (The Grotto)

All vegetation cleared from the site, including ivy.

Stumps treated with Ecoplugs to prevent regrowth.

Future management: Two herbicide treatments for three years supplemented by manual cutting.

This project has been warmly welcomed by the Friends of Wanstead Parklands. As these recent photographs demonstrate, a long-lost view of the Grotto from the west bank of the Ornamental Water has already been opened up. Geoff Sinclair has plans for future years for further tidying up the environs of the Ornamental Water - we'll keep you posted.