The 12th Duke of Devonshire planted a Chinese tulip tree near to the Visitor Centre in Birkenhead Park yesterday, to celebrate the life of Joseph Paxton, designer of the park.
Earlier in the day, he planted another Chinese tulip tree in the Paxton-designed Princes Park in Liverpool and will plant one later this year at his Chatsworth Estate in Derbyshire, where Paxton was head gardener.
The Chair of the Friends of Birkenhead Park, Graham Arnold, gave a short speech detailing the early history of the park, and then introduced the Duke and the Mayor of Wirral who each gave a speech to those assembled.
Mayor Cllr Jeff Green thanked the Friends of Birkenhead Park and the Friends of Princes Park for conceiving and organising the event that was “warmly embraced” by the Duke who provided the trees and stone plaques.
The Mayor said, “I’d like to truly thank you and say how much the trees will be appreciated as an addition to this park. It is a wonderful way to commemorate Sir Joseph. These three trees will cement the relationship between the sites and foster continuing engagement between the Friends of both parks and the Chatsworth estate.”
The 12th Duke of Devonshire thanked the volunteers and council for maintaining the park and said how important the park was for people during the COVID-19 pandemic, by providing a pleasant space for people to take exercise during lockdown.
Alluding to the visit of American landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead, to Birkenhead Park in 1850, the Duke said that Paxton was also “influential in American park building,” as this visit inspired Olmstead in his later contribution to the design of Central Park in New York City.
Praising the work of the volunteers and council workers, the Duke said, “Thank you for the amazing work you do. Don’t forget how important you all are, each and every one of you. You do a great thing that must not be underestimated.”