Discovering my local wild place - Coombe Wood Gardens by Keeping it Wild Trainee Eden

Bench at Coombe Wood Gardens credit Eden Plummer

Coombe Wood Gardens is a two-in-one site with gardens and wood. The three main gardens flower in different seasons so there’s always something beautiful to see, whatever time of year you go. I went in late autumn and it was lovely to see the ferns in the terrace garden and the winter garden starting to bloom.

The Coombe Wood was bought with Coombe Wood House for the use of the public of Croydon. In 1948, the 14-acre parkland was opened to the public. The Rock Garden was discovered in 1948 by workmen when they were clearing the undergrowth before opening. The rock is made out of Pulhamite, a material invented by James Pulham. 

Rock Garden at Coombe Wood Gardens

Rock Garden at Coombe Wood Gardens by Eden Plummer

When the gardens were opened, they hosted only spring plants. The Rose Garden was planted to extend the flowering season into summer. The Winter Garden was planted in front of Coombe Wood House to have a full flowering year. The Broad Walk was originally the Kitchen Garden, which leads up to the Stable Yard and the House.

Rose and ornamental grass garden at Coombe Wood Gardens

Rose and ornamental grass garden Coombe Wood Gardens by Eden Plummer

Going across the site is the wood made of Beech, Pine, Rhododendrons, and Azaleas. Nest boxes have been put up by the RSPB to encourage breeding birds. The Stable Yard houses the site’s café but was used for the Parks Department Rangers horses that patrolled the large areas of public woodland in the south of the borough of Croydon.

Here are a couple of activities you could do at this site:

1. Find a bench in the woods, I suggest the one on the hill on the border of the wood gardens. Sit on the bench and try to be as silent, still, and slow as you can. Birds will start coming close and flying through the trees. Sit there for 2-5 minutes and count in your head how many birds you see. You might find that you sit there for longer than you meant to, that’s okay. Nature is beautiful and time flies when you’re having fun!

2. As you walk around, you can create bark rubbings. Put your paper on the trunk of a tree and rub your pencil over top, pressing down to find the pattern of the bark on the paper. Leave space for more rubbings that you can do on different trees. You might even find some scratches from squirrels climbing up the trunks or some holes that insects live in.

Bench at Coombe Wood Gardens

Bench at Coombe Wood Gardens credit Eden Plummer