My Primrose Hill: In conversation with Marc Ward Aka The Bushman Gardener…
When did you arrive in Primrose Hill?
Just a simple Kiwi, I arrived in England over 30 years ago. I visited the zoo and stumbled upon the Village on my walk home. Never looked back!
What aspect of Primrose Hill made you stay here so long?
I guess the pubs kept me here, as I met some amazing people who became clients as well as good mates!
Where is your favourite green space in the area?
I’m lucky enough to be the gardener for the largest secret garden in Primrose Hill. It’s a joy to work in, the owners are exceptional people and now good friends, but I’m not telling you where it is!
What do you think of the trend to build over rear gardens with extensions and ‘studios’?
Sometimes these builds are not sympathetic towards nature and can damage the environment. Back gardens are often more hidden, so it can be hard to estimate the cumulative effect. Developments can alter the water table, changing the eco system of neighbouring gardens.
What gardening initiatives improve the public amenity in Primrose Hill?
The potted fruit trees outside shops were a great idea, but require careful maintenance. Planting around the base of the trees is great, and it’s nice to see the locals taking care of this!
Have you seen evidence of climate change?
There has always been climate change, but since the advent of the industrial revolution this has gathered pace. It’s good that humans are finally attempting to do something about it, although it will take centuries, not years.
Have you witnessed a decrease in wildlife populations in Primrose Hill?
Not in the number of dogs! But there is a decline in hedgehogs, bats, pollinators and several species of birds. Encouraging and nurturing wildlife and its benefits is vitally important, and can be great fun too!
What plants would you recommend to support the bee population?
We need to ensure a year-round supply of flowering plants, from fruit trees in the spring to plants that flower during the winter. It also helps to leave some flowering herbs like comfrey (symphytum officinale), with its pretty flowers.
What extra planting would you recommend for the Hill itself?
The lower part of the hill has a drainage problem. I think planting trees like the silver birch in these areas would alleviate this. It is a beautiful tree with its white peeling bark, and would look stunning in years to come. You can also tap the tree for exceptionally tasty water!
Why do you wear shorts all year round?
I’m not sure really… I hated trousers as a child, running round in the bush in New Zealand. The shorts, along with the long white hair and beard, complete my non-conformist look!
As told to Phil Cowan
Photography by Lars Christiansen