Water Gardens at ‘tipping point’ as calls to act grow

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A WATCHDOG set up to safeguard the county’s parks has warned Hemel Hempstead’s Water Gardens are at a ‘tipping point’.

Hertfordshire Gardens Trust says there is a risk work to repair damaged and decaying parts of the neglected landmark will upset the original design by Geoffrey Jellicoe.

The trust has written to council boss Daniel Zammit expressing concern at the state of the gardens and calling for action.

“We are concerned that whilst the Water Garden is currently still recognisable as Jellicoe’s design it is at a tipping point,” the letter says.

“Current poor condition of infrastructure and planting could lead to decisions to refresh or change elements without realising the effect that such change would have on the whole concept.

“The decision to introduce natural marginal plants has already had a negative effect on the design in which some of the water edges were intended to be a crisp meeting between close-mown grass and a reflective water surface.”

The letter comes amid a barrage of criticism for the condition of the highly-regarded gardens from eminent landscape designers.

The Garden History Society has called for remedial work while its chairman Dominic Cole has offered to work with Dacorum Borough Council for free to restore the Grade II-listed site.

The trust says in its letter: “In the canon of Jellicoe’s work this site is outstanding.”

Meanwhile, work has already taken place in the gardens to cut back weeds and clear undergrowth, although the council says this is part of routine work.

Council spokesman Katie Warner said: “The letter has been received and is in hand.

“The council’s Clean, Safe and Green team has been doing its annual clean-up of the Water Gardens, including weeding and cutting back.

“This is part of annually scheduled works.”