A new multi-sensory garden has been unveiled at Wimbledon’s Polka Theatre as it reopens after a two-year redevelopment project.
The ‘Wimbledon Foundation Garden’ which comprises a new creative play area for children was funded by the Wimbledon Foundation, the charity of The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and The Championships.
Designed by Patrick Collins, an award-winning landscape architect and garden designer, the Wimbledon Foundation Garden features sensory planting which will enhance the theatre’s extensive Access Programme for children with disabilities and learning needs. Ecological elements of the design include bug hotels, log piles and bird and bat boxes.
In addition to the Wimbledon Foundation’s funding, members of the All England Club’s estate development and horticultural teams have been involved in the project lending their expertise, planting trees and plants donated from this year’s Championships, and leveraging in-kind support from their own suppliers including Marshalls who generously donated the garden’s new natural stone paving.
The garden was officially opened by AELTC Chairman Ian Hewitt and Peter Glanville, Artistic Director and joint CEO of Polka Theatre. Guests involved in the design and construction of the garden were taken on a tour of the newly refurbished theatre and shown the garden’s unique design features.
AELTC Chairman Ian Hewitt said:
“The Championships is renowned for its ‘Tennis in an English country garden’ setting and so it seemed fitting that our contribution to Polka’s redevelopment project went towards creating a beautiful green space for our local community to enjoy. Polka Theatre provides an invaluable resource for children and we hope that many will enjoy the benefits of creative outdoor play in this wonderful new garden.”
Peter Glanville, Artistic Director and joint CEO of Polka, said:
“Thanks to the support of the Wimbledon Foundation, we have transformed a previously neglected garden into a safe and fully accessible green space that everyone is welcome to enjoy for free. This amazing new play space will greatly enhance Polka’s educational programmes with Creative Learning workshops, storytelling and messy play trails to connect children with the outdoors in a creative way.”
The newly refurbished Polka Theatre which reopened officially to the public on 25 September includes a brand new Adventure Theatre with increased capacity for early years audiences and Clore Learning Studio, new indoor and outdoor play spaces as well as the theatre’s first on-site rehearsal space The Nest.
The redevelopment of the garden also received support from Arts Council England, the London Marathon Charitable Trust, the Mayor of London’s Grow Back Greener Fund, Viridor’s Beddington ERF Community Benefit Fund, the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association and Merton Borough Council.