Sunday, 11 December 2016

Our great Tree Dressing Day

In the UK we tend to check the weather forecast with fingers crossed for outdoor events so it was a HUGE relief that Sunday 4th December,  the day of the Mayow Park tree dressing event, was sunny but very, very cold. Volunteers arrived at 9.30am to check the orchard site, set up the gazebo and collect tables. Story teller Amanthi Harris prepared the little woodland story telling space and a table for craft activities on the hard standing nearby.
The Friends of Mayow Park had decided to use the orchard as the space for celebrating this event. We had two reasons: 1) to highlight the strength of community involvement in planting and maintaining our orchard  area within a public park. In years to come this orchard should provide a wonderful place for people to gather, have picnics and organise orchard-based events across the seasons. 2) to remember former Chair of the friends of Mayow Park, Hilary Jarrett.
 orchard trees in June2016
The park was already busy,being a sunny Sunday morning in winter, with dog walkers, families, joggers and others out for a breath of fresh air.  People started arriving at our gazebo from 10am to write messages on paper cut-out leaves or fabric and choose trees to tie on their messages.
Over the course of the morning three separate groups of  people joined us because they had heard about our event on BBC Radio London.What a wonderful surprise that was. It was included in Nikki Bedi's 'happening today' round up. Follow this link and go 50 minutes in
but don't delay as it will only be available for a limited time - until 1st or 2nd January 2017 I think.
families arrive to take part in tree dressing

Most people preferred strips of fabric to tie on to tree guards, either with or without a message rather than cutting out paper leaves. We'll remember this for next year's event!

Although people could decorate any of the trees in the orchard (including a maple, a lime and a beech) the friends chose  one particular apple tree. This had been chosen and planted by Hilary Jarrett when we first created the orchard in 2012. Hilary had been a great advocate for Mayow Park and we wanted everyone to be aware of her important role in planting and maintaining this orchard.

starting to decorate Lane's Prince Albert apple 
For the first 15 minutes or so we were very busy as families arrived. Refreshments (juice and sweets and apple pies) were more popular with the children than the adults.

It was soon time to call everyone for the story telling workshop. Children collected twigs to make mini trees and Amanthi showed them how to decorate using tissue paper.

Marianne with her twig        
decorating mini trees                                            

story telling in the woods

   woodland story time             

When enough small trees were made, Amanthi led adults and childen (and not only parents/ grandparents) into the woodland to the story telling circle. All made themselves as comfy as they could on the log benches, ready for the story. In the photo above left, can you spot Harry the dog with his owners Robert and Valerie as well as the miniature trees made by children in the workshop session?

After story telling it was back to the gazebo to add more decorations to the trees and the following photos show just some of the fairy tale feel of the orchard at the end of the morning. 

A photographer sent from Helping Britain Blossom arrived around 11.15am and took more photos of the story-telling and the singalong. His photos will follow separately and are MUCH more professional than any I have posted.       
decorated woodland tree       
lemon pippin decorated
The final part of the morning was the sing-along, singing winter songs rather than specifically Christmas songs. Next year it would be great if we could have tree songs too.
There are many people who worked to make this a successful event. 
I will begin with our park keeper who brought tables and checked throughout the morning that everything was fine. He also wrote a message on a paper leaf which he tied to the Lane's Prince Albert tree. See photo

I will list here the people who helped and hope I can remember them all.  Please forgive if I have forgotten anyone:
Jackie and Richard and their two boys who came at 9.30am and helped to set up the gazebo
Angela, Robert, Valerie who helped  set up and stayed all morning
Carol and Jon for the large poster, string and other items. They had to leave as they had a  party to prepare
Sandra who travelled from Greenwich  to help 
Annabelle C who brought seed balls for bird food to hand in the trees
Amanthi for her story telling
Amanthi's friend (Tom I think) who came with his guitar, having rehearsed songs for our sing-along.
And of course everyone who turned up to take part in this event.
Altogether we had 33 adults and 21 children over the course of the morning, according to the records on our sign-in sheets.

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