Postcards from Slough
Postcards from Slough

Herschel Park

The East Villas of Upton Park from Herschel Park

 

Upton Park Estate included the 7·8 acre Upton Park. Created in 1842, the park was bought by Slough Borough Council in 1949 and renamed Herschel Park after the astronomer Sir William Herschel. An area of some 11·3 acres area to the south-east of the park was added in 1982 and is managed as a nature reserve.


In 2002, Herschel Park gained Grade II listing in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. It had become neglected however; the lake had dried up due to the lowering of the local water table and drying up of the natural springs that fed it. A grant of 2·7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund along with support from the Friends of Herschel Park and hundreds of hours of work from volunteers has restored the park to its former glory.

The lake was lined with clay and is fed from a borehole that provides sustainable water. New paths following the original routes have been laid and Victorian-style lampposts have been installed. The park has new perimeter fencing and gates, and hundreds of new trees and shrubs have been planted in an informal fashion. It is a tranquil enclave close to the town centre, the peace being aided by a landfill mound separates it from the noise of the motorway to the south.


Amenities  include a refreshments kiosk open in spring and summer, toilets including disabled, plenty of benches to sit on and a car park for about a dozen cars at the eastern end of the nature reserve. Cycling is permitted on the path that runs along the south side of the park and north side of the reserve.

Herschel Park flora and fauna

The park has an arboretum planted during its first construction in the Victorian era. Some trees in the park and reserve have boxes attached to their trunks for various species of birds and bats. The pond is in two parts, each with an island providing sanctuaries for water birds such as ducks, coots and Egyptian geese.

Flora

Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Snowdrops are bulbous perennial herbaceous plants. The scientific name Galanthus comes from the Greek gála meaning ‘milk’ and ánthos meaning ‘flower’. There are about 20 species within the genus. They are characterised by having pendulous white flowers on a short stem with two leaves.

Snowdrops appear mid-February

 

Galanthus is native to Europe and the Middle East and has been introduced as an ornamental species in North America, subsequently naturalising on that continent. Galanthus nivalis is the most widespread and grows best in woodland, in acid or alkaline soil.

Forget me not (Myosotis - )

The scientific name Myosotis comes from the Greek and means ‘mouse’s ear’ and refers to the shape of the leaf. The common name comes from the German Vergissmeinnicht and was first used in English in the late 14th century.

There are 74 known accepted species of Myosotis worldwide. In Britain the flowers appear in spring. The flowers are typically 1cm diameter and are usually blue with yellow centres but pink, white and yellow flowers can occur even on the same inflorence.

 

Forget me nots can mostly be found in the nature reserve area of the park.

Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas)

Poppies grow in open grassland and as weeds in farm fields. Before herbicides were used it was often mistaken for a crop but the only species to be grown deliberately is the opium poppy, papaver somniferum.

Papaver rhoeas grows up to about 70cm tall with flowers of 5-10cm diameter appearing in late spring. The four petals overlap and are deep orange to red in colour. They have a black spot with yellow stamens in the middle.

 

Since World War One the flower has become a symbol for servicemen who died in that conflict as well as in other conflicts since. Poppies grew in the disturbed soil of no man’s land on the Western front and feature in the poem In Flanders Fields written by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.

 

Poppies can mostly be found in the nature reserve area of the park.

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Postcards from Slough gratefully uses images from Grace's Guide.

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