Friday, 15 June 2018


It was great to see Friends of Mayow Park (FOMP) volunteers and Glendale staff working together on 12th June 2018 on a joint grounds maintenance project to improve part of the park. This work was not part of the usual maintenance routine but had been identified as work we could do together in  celebration of Mayow Park’s  140th anniversary as a public park and Friends of Mayow Park’s quarter century as a park user group. On 1st June1878 the Sydenham and Forest Hill Public Recreation Ground (later renamed as Mayow Park) was formally opened. Friends of Mayow Park (previously called Mayow Park Users’ Group) held their first meeting in April 1993.
The aims of the joint Glendale and FOMP session were agreed:
  • To clean up the Victorian drinking fountain
  • To resurrect the rockery near the modern drinking fountain
  • To tidy up and make more accessible the fruit and herb beds in the Triangle
  • To thin out the maple suckers which form a lovely den around an old maple tree stump
  • To prune the privet hedge and fruiting hedgerow where the aviary used to be, if time allowed
The Victorian drinking fountain stands as a memorial to the Rev William Taylor Jones and a symbol of Victorian philanthropy. It remains an attractive ornament although the water supply through lead piping was blocked way back in a bygone age. If you look carefully you will see the filled-in holes from which water flowed. Hilary Jarrett, who was Chair of the Friends of Mayow Park in the early this millennium, looked into the possibility of restoring the fountain. However, expert advice warned that such a project would be immensely expensive and risk causing serious damage to the granite fountain. It was far better to keep the fountain as it is for it to remain an acknowledgment of the past.
Victorian fountain  in Mayow Park

The fountain called for a clean-up to celebrate its position in the park and that call was answered by Ian, with a bucket and long- handled brush.  
Ian arrives to spruce it up as a birthday treat

Job done. Fountain cleaned

We now have the modern drinking fountain, beside the rockery,  paid for by a grant to FOMP and installed by Glendale a few years ago, thanks to Hilary’s persistence in seeking funds.


Behind the modern drinking fountain stands a rockery. Every spring flowering bulbs grow in the rockery before the forest of elder, ivy, bindweed, overgrown holly and other plants take over. The rockery was revealed today when the team cut through the dense undergrowth. 
Where is the rockery?
Rockery uncovered and cleared of rubbish

Suitable rockery plants for shade were planted. These were sourced by Glendale, purchased by the Friends and planted by Glendale’s grounds maintenance staff and also acknowledge times past.
Rockery planted

. . . and more plants

Nearby, close to the modern drinking water fountain, the Friends tend fruit and herb beds. Today the fruit bed saw five volunteers hard at work. One started pruning the fruiting hedgerow on two sides of the bed. The others cut back the grass growing round the redcurrant bushes, the raspberry canes and the fruit trees, releasing these plants from hiding. The grass in the central space was also cut so that people can now bring their picnic mats and enjoy a less overlooked space. No photos of this at the moment.

Directly opposite the fruit bed is a bench and a maple tree stump surrounded by maple stems which have suckered up to surround the stump and create a ‘den’ for children and adults to explore. The stump itself is a haven for invertebrates and possibly even elusive stag beetle larvae hiding deep in the dense wood. The suckered growth was overgrown and needed thinning, brambles growing through it and covering the ground.  
Den looking in - before clearing
Den from outside before clearing

So a team armed with loppers, saws and secateurs worked to thin back the maple growth and cut through the brambles. The work also revealed the variegated holly behind the maple stems.  Children and adults can now enter the den without scratching themselves on thorns.
Maple den after clearing

The site near the tennis courts, where the aviary used to be, is referred to as ‘the hard standing’. It has a privet hedge and a fruiting hedgerow. Glendale staff trimmed the privet which had become overgrown and straggly. The fruiting hedgerow was carefully pruned to leave the flowering wild roses which add colour  to the space and encourage insects.
Work in progress
Smile for the camera
Hedge trimmed

Hedgerow pruned

Roses in the hedgerow
Thank you to the FOMP volunteers and  Glendale staff for a productive session and great team work. Our efforts were a fitting celebration of Mayow140 and FOMP 25.
Below are some photos of Glendale staff at work. Someone forgot to take photos of the  FOMP volunteers, but we were there - honest!

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Upcoming work session in June 2018

 Friends of Mayow Park (FOMP) and Glendale (who manage the park on behalf of Lewisham Council) are getting ready for a joint working session on 12th June 2018 as a celebration event. Friends of Mayow Park first met in April 1993 (as Mayow Park Users' Group) and, for our 25 year anniversary, we would like to mark that occasion by working together with Glendale to brighten up one part of the park.

FOMP volunteers plan to clean up the Victorian granite water fountain in recognition that the park itself celebrates an anniversary - 140 years since it was officially opened to the public.

The fountain circa 1900 provided drinking water to park users

The fountain today as an ornamental reminder of bygone days
The volunteers will also tidy up the Triangle herb and fruit beds in front of the cafe. It there are enough volunteers we may do some additional work in the orchard.
Together with Glendale we will create a new rockery near the modern drinking fountain, an idea suggested by a park user a few years ago.
Somewhere in the undergrowth is a rockery waiting to be uncovered
Opposite the rockery and next to a bench is a wonderful maple 'den' created after a diseased maple tree had to be felled some years ago. The stump is still there but around it have grown suckers to create a dense hideaway. We intend to cut back some of this growth.
Dense growth surrounds the dead tree stump . . . 
. . . but in among the wood there is a great hiding place
And that is not all we plan to do.
We welcome more volunteers, for a short while or the whole session. If you can, bring a trowel or a spade. If you don't have tools we have a few.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Litter and Bank Holidays

Litter is not exactly an exciting topic but it bothers people when it is scattered where they want to be. The early May Bank Holiday weekend (Saturday 5th - Mon 7th May) is over and, unusually, we had a hot weekend. It was lovely to see so many people out in parks across London, but the littering masses were out in force too.
Not only Mayow Park but so many other parks suffered from the worst litter problems I have seen so early in the year.
There seem to be two types of litter generators:
1. Those that leave all their litter at the location where they gathered.
2. Those that thoughtfully collect all their rubbish, put it into bags and leave it all beside a park bin that is already too full to take even a crisp packet.
The people in first category are, in my view, anti-social, caring only about having fun and never mind about spoiling the environment for others.
The people in the second category are socially aware and show they care but are at the same time unaware that their left-overs will provide a free meal to park wildlife who will scatter the pizza remains, hummus dips, plastic bottles, glass bottles, drinks cans and all sorts of remains so that the area round the bins looks unpleasant.
People do not realise the problem unless they see the aftermath, the mess,  on the following day.
One solution could be to encourage people to take all their own rubbish home so that recyclable items and waste can be sorted and disposed of according to their local authority requirements.
This would need publicity via adverts on television, on buses, on billboards and anywhere else where people would see and take note.
This would cost - designing posters, making videos, pay for advertising space, publicise on social media.
But it is a national problem. So publicity should be national.
BBC Essex produced  a video of Southend beach after the bank holiday weekend

Back at Mayow Park, on 8th May, three individuals simultaneously went to the park determined to clear up as much as they could. They met up which was a delight, positive encouragement. And a conversation has started on how to reach out to schools so that the pupils will become more aware of the issues and solutions.

One willing volunteer helping to look after her park.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Cricket returns in 2018

Last year saw a break from cricket in Mayow Park. But the good news it is returning with a new home team, the R.A.S.R.A. Eagles cricket Club. For those keen on cricket, here is the fixtures list:

Saturday, 5 May 2018

A tree for Hilary 4th May 2018

Many locals who have lived in Sydenham for a while will remember Dr Graver with fondness (also known as Mrs Hilary Jarrett). She was highly respected in the community.
She was a very active Friend of Mayow Park. She had been treasurer and Chair of the group, a great advocate of the park in the local community and with Lewisham Council.
Among her MANY achievements she
- helped to start our annual Tree Dressing tradition (held on the first weekend in December),
- was involved in planting a larch and a gingko tree,
-  organised the 125 year celebrations for Mayow Park with her husband John and other volunteers,
- worked tirelessly to get a modern drinking water fountain installed,
- helped to create the fruit and herb triangle beds in front of the cafe,
- contributed a tree to the orchard: Lane's Prince Albert cooking apple.

Hilary died in 2016 and has been very much missed by the Friends group.
Her family planted a commemorative tree on 4th May 2018 and installed a plaque in her memory. The tree, a larch, is located between the orchard and the Recreation Road entrance.
Many thanks to Lewisham Greenscene and to Glendale for supporting this planting and agreeing the location for this tree.
I would like to thank her family for this lovely addition to the park.

orchard on polling day (3rd May 2018)

Work sessions in the Mayow Park orchard have not happened for a while, not since February when we held our winter pruning day. There have been too many days of heavy rain since then; no motivation for Friends of Mayow Park volunteers to get out and do  essential work in the orchard. But polling day promised to be sunny and perhaps even warm so we hastily arranged a work session.
At 10.30 am the first volunteers arrived. We intended to remove weeds round all 18 or our orchard trees, check tree health,  put down some mulch, check the guards and low metal fences round the trees. we were not sure we could do all that in  two hours.
Much of our small pile of mulch had been removed a few days earlier but one determined volunteer was able to sweep what remained into the wheelbarrow and all the trees got some mulch.

COMFREY FOR FRUIT TREES: Some of our trees have comfrey plants growing round them in their tree pits. These plants were intentionally planted a couple of years ago. The thinking is that comfrey, which has deep roots, will bring up nutrients into its leaves. We then cut down the leaves and chop them into the mulch so that the nutrients can feed the tree roots. Some comfrey can be very invasive, but the variety we have, Bocking 14, is non-invasive. If visitors see these large, fluffy-leaved plants they should not be concerned.
valuable volunteers in the orchard
VOLUNTEERS: In addition to our regular volunteers, a dad and his two sons joined us. Their help was much appreciated. Another volunteer came along later and also made a huge difference to the amount we achieved. A total of eight volunteers. We had not publicised this session so we were delighted to have these extra pairs of hands.
At the end of two hours, we had completed all the tasks.
Adding mulch to the tree pit

A happy tree
The orchard is looking lovely with some of the trees in blossom as seen in this photo below:
Cox's Orange Pippin (in foreground) in bloom
The orchard is once again full of Lady's Smock flowers (also known as Cuckoo Flower). These are delicate-looking flowers and rather uncommon in the borough of Lewisham. They prefer damp grassland and our orchard, being on very heavy clay, certainly fits that description. So, by arrangement with Lewisham Greenscene and the park contractors Glendale, the mowing of this area will be delayed until the plants have finished flowering and set seed.
Lady's Smock or Cuckoo Flower in the Mayow Park orchard

sowing wild flowers (May 2018)

A few parents with young children were interested in sowing wild flowers in the wild flower area that Friends of Mayow Park look after, beside the Triangle fruit bed. So we arranged to meet up to give the  youngsters the opportunity of sowing some seed balls  (a small ball-shaped mix of clay, compost and seeds) followed by loose seeds. 
The seed balls had been purchased through a crowdfunding campaign by London National Park City, aiming to bring appropriate colourful wild flowers into public spaces.
Now comes the waiting game, when we hope there will be enough moisture to allow the seeds to germinate and  wow us with a floral display during the summer
Young volunteers get ready to sow

Ready, steady, sow

Great bat walk Friday 13th April 2018

What a terrific turnout to the bat walk with more than 100 people meeting outside the cafe in Mayow Park. Although a cool evening, it was dry and there were some insects flying around, making it more likely we would see bats.
After a reminder of health and safety in the park  at dusk, it was the turn of Dr Boulton to talk bats.  Dr Boulton introduced himself, gave some general information about the bats we might see and explained how to use the bat detectors.
People organised into groups with one bat detector per group and it was time to set off round the park. Some followed Dr Boulton and others  meandered in other directions. Over the next hour, as the evening grew darker and our eyes became accustomed to low light levels, some found it easier to look for flying bats rather than to use the detectors.
By the end of the walk many people had seen bats flying around although it was noted that most of these nocturnal flying mammals tended to fly closer to the back gardens of nearby Bishopsthorpe Road. One explanation put forward for this was that most trees in the park were not yet in leaf after a very long and cold winter while the back gardens, being more sheltered, had more insect-attracting vegetation.
This was a community event organised by Friends of Mayow Park.

Monday, 26 March 2018

BAT WALK coming up in April

The bats of Mayow Park have had to endure a long, cold winter. We hope the weather will warm up in time for our bat walk on 13th April. This is a dusk walk, when the bats should be out hunting for flying insects.

This year park users are celebrating 140 years since the official opening of Mayow Park as a public recreation ground. We are also celebrating 25 years since Friends of Mayow Park (FOMP) was formed; it was originally called Mayow Park Users' Group (MPUG). 

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Gardening session today

No photos as I forgot to take any. We worked on the fruit bed at the Triangle, pulling up couch grass that was threatening to strangle the currant bushes. It became clear rather quickly that we have neglected this bed, having done very little for a year. Some raspberry canes encroached on the space currently with currants, so they had to be removed. We found stinging nettles, good for wildlife but a menace in a space where people are encouraged to enter and pick fruit, so they had to be removed. We produced a large amount of organic garden waste and we could see what had been cleared, but we will need at least two more morning sessions to finish what we started.
A robin spent some time watching our activities with interest before flying off to find more food.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Gardening workday coming up

Thursday 15th Feb 2018, time for our first gardening session of the year in the Triangle, opposite Mayow Park cafe. New volunteers are welcome. Dress for the weather.
We will be reducing the height of the fruiting hedgerow, pruning raspberry canes, weeding and mulching the fruit bushes. As it is half term week, children can help with some of the tasks as well as look for minibeasts in the mulch and in the log pile.

Lovely day for orchard work

It was really cold and the ground in the orchard was frozen when we arrived but the sun slowly worked its magic and ice turned to mud.
We had 8 adults and 4 children at our workday, some adults already experienced in orchard pruning and some learning skills for the first time. The children got stuck in to remove grass encroaching into the tree pits and then to mulch the areas they had cleared. In 1.5 hours we managed to check tree health, prune apple trees trees, adjust tree guards, remove weeds and add mulch. We had a fun session.
Volunteers setting up at the start of the morning
three children collecting wood chips for mulching

Friday, 9 February 2018

Join in our Orchard winter workday 12th Feb 2018

Half term is coming up and our orchard winter workday will be next Monday.
We will be checking all the trees for pests and diseases as well as some winter pruning of apple and pear trees. We will also be reducing the height of some of the tree guards, removing encroaching grass round the tree pits and mulching.
No prior knowledge of gardening or pruning is needed as we will show you what to do.Introductions and training will be from 10.30 a.m. If you can only stay a short while, it is best to arrive at the start.
Children who join us must be supervised. Wear suitable footwear as the ground can get quite muddy.
If you have any questions, our email address is
NOTE: yes, our email address is ymail, not gmail.