Sunday, 19 December 2021

fallen leaves

 It's that time of year when trees shed their leaves. The leaves turn brown and brittle.  In the park children have fun gathering piles of leaves then kicking them around.  
Let children enjoy this time and please send us your photos.
Park grounds staff  seem to fight a losing battle trying to clear the green spaces for the public to use, particularly the paths where leaves can be a slip hazard. It can keep the park keeper busy on a cold and misty Sunday morning as happened today.
The wonderful tall and majestic ancient oak tree guarding the cafe entrance to Mayow Park played a trick this weekend. It chose to drop all its remaining leaves almost overnight, blanketing the ground across  the park entrance and in front of the cafe. The sheer volume was quite a surprise. 
Not a problem for our park keeper. He took this in his stride and got to work to sweep the leaves off the public highway and into the bushes. Thank you for your effort. 
              







Sunday, 5 December 2021

BRAMBLE BASHING

 At our orchard maintenance sessions, volunteers could see that the scrub behind the orchard (mainly brambles and elder) was spreading too close to some of the orchard trees. This would affect the growth of our fruit trees in time, with brambles competing for soil nutrients.

Cutting back was the only way. We had our team of volunteers but the task was too overwhelming for us with our hand tools alone - secateurs and loppers.
Fortunately Glendale managers agreed. Glendale is the contracting company that manages the park on behalf of Lewisham Council; cutting back was on their schedule as part of Mayow Park green space maintenance tasks.
We were able to plan our volunteer session to tie in with a day when Glendale’s team was able to work on the task – Thursday 2nd December.
Volunteers at work

Working with hand tools

The nature conservation value for wildlife of the dense hedge of brambles was not forgotten, but this is a public park and there is a need to maximise the grass area available to park users while maintaining spaces for wildlife. Doing this work in winter is probably the safest time.
Our team of volunteers worked with basic hand tools in an area close to the hard standing, while the Glendale team brought a power hedge cutter for the toughest sections. In some parts the brambles were cut back by 3 metres. 
Glendale team get ready

 open space cleared

After cutting back, the area was cleared and the plant matter we had cut was taken away by Glendale for composting.
Cut vegetation removed for composting
That area looks more open and welcoming to park users now.
All photos credit D Budden

Raising the Green Flag in Mayow Park

 On Thursday 2nd December 2021, Mayow Park’s 2021-22 Green Flag was hoisted near the children’s playground. With thanks to the Glendale team (the contractors who look after the park on behalf of Lewisham Council), the Friends of Mayow Park and other park visitors were able to be present to watch this.
Hoist the flag

Group photo


Flag flying high
Lewisham now has more Green Flag parks and community green spaces than previously, so well done to everyone who put in time and effort.

What does the Green Flag denote?

Many Friends of Parks groups regard the Green Flag award criteria as a minimum standard that all parks should strive for.  Sometimes parks are judged in person by a team of experienced trained judges, with park managers/ contractors and members of the park Friends group present to answer questions. Sometimes a judge visits the park anonymously and without advance warning to check that standards are being met at all times and not only on judging day. 

Celebrating trees in Mayow Park

 

Poster

A cold northerly wind and drizzle which kept people at home rather than out and about in their local green space was not the best day to hold FOMP’s Tree Dressing in Mayow Park on 27th November 2021.

Despite that some brave volunteers came to put out tables with refreshments, paper leaves, colouring pencils, wax crayons and waterproof pens for writing messages in celebration of the wonderful trees in Mayow Park.



Our volunteers and activity tables

We set up beside one of the veteran boundary oaks so passers-by could see us and participate, to write and hang their comments around the tree for all to read. Below are just a few of the lovely messages.

I love trees

Love and care for trees

Plant more trees

Save all trees

Thank you for the air for us to breathe

May your stories travel far

Trees are important


WHAT IS TREE DRESSING you may ask?
It is based on many old customs from all over the world, celebrated at different times of the year. In England it has become an annual event during the Tree Council National Tree Week (end Nov and into December)
Back in 1990, the charity Common Ground  started this as an annual celebration.
Photo from Common Ground's website

Since then it has grown and provides a chance for communities to gather, to value and to celebrate our leafy friends. It is also a time to reflect on the social and cultural history of the local area and the role trees have played in shaping that story.
Trees have sustained us in many ways:
Food, shelter, medicine and the air we breathe
They have influenced our past and will do so into the future
They have a spiritual significance in many cultures

Celebrating Tree Dressing Day in Mayow Park is a wonderful way of saying 'thank you' and showing our appreciation of the trees where we live.

Friday, 12 November 2021

AWESOME ORCHARDS DAY

 16th October 2021 – our  ‘Awesome Orchards’ event.

Heavy rain fell as we pitched up in the first hour! We had agreed to cancel the event should there be rain . . . but we didn’t listen to our own advice.

We convinced ourselves to carry on and that drier weather would follow. Luckily it did.  And we had an enjoyable event. 

Sadly all our orchard apples had been stripped from their trees in July and August, months before they were ripe and tasty, and none remained for us to use.

As in previous years, we received apples donated from gardens including Red Delicious and others with made up names such as Tilmaston Tipple, Burghill Bounties and Moss Mayhem (a pear variety!). FOMP also purchased named varieties from the local greengrocer to be sure of enough varieties for tasting:  Spartan, Russet, Cox, Braeburn, Granny Smith and Gala

Apples lined up for tasting

Some donated apple varieties


Bought in named varieties

Our apple tasting activity proved popular. Who would have thought apples could come in different shapes, sizes and tastes? The most popular apple by taste turned out to be the unknown variety given the name Burghill Bounties.

Tasting apples

Another popular activity was the children’s treasure hunt. Children visited orchard trees to find letter clues that would spell a word. When they worked out the word, each child won a small prize.

Pippa’s apple cake and pear loaf were very popular refreshments.

Thanks to Nathalia for researching and making rather attractive orchard fruit tree labels to tie to the tree guards.

Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers and visitors who joined us in celebration of orchards. Around 50 people attended.  

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Looking after the plants in the Triangle beds

 Our volunteers had taken our eyes off the rapidly growing 'weeds' in the Triangle  herb and fruit bush beds opposite the cafe. This is the  planted space that visitors see as they walk past the cafe and into the park. We can do better. Only one regular  and another occasional volunteer have done much in a few months, clearing the long grass from the winding path through the herb bed. Oh dear! 

The rain really helped everything grow rapidly.

We are now playing 'catch-up' by having extra informal gardening sessions.  

 On  25th May 2021 three volunteers  got down on their knees busy weeding at the Triangle space. They pulled up some long grass under and around the raspberries  and some minor pruning of the raspberry canes so the berries can be seen more easily. As we were still following Lewisham's Covid distancing rules, three was a good number and we brought our own tools.

There were other informal sessions whenever individuals could turn up. As far as possible, plants and twigs were piled beside the hedgerow to make a 'dead hedge' of sorts.

We are now managing the plants better. 9th September and three volunteers gathered to prune the plum (which should have happened in August!), prune back the raspberry canes that had fruited this year and also keep the canes that are still fruiting as the weather is so mild. 

Another hastily arranged session on 15th September had the plum and apple tree in focus. The long grass was raked away and the trees were given a thick layer of partly rotted woodchip mulch. We were careful to make sure to leave a circular space between the tree trunks and the woodchips.

Mulching helps the fruit trees

Mulching will help the trees. Why? 

1. Mulching reduces evaporation from the soil around the trees in dry weather, keeping the roots moist.

2. Rain falling onto the mulch filters slowly through to the roots so they don't become too wet.

3. Mulch can help prevent weeds taking over the area round the tree. Weeds can compete with the tree roots for nutrients

4.Wood chips around trees can support  mycorrhizal fungi. These  fungi  are helpful to the tree roots

5. When wood chips have rotted down they are good for improving the soil.

Plenty of good reasons then? The orchard trees get the same care and attention.

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Mayow Park gets gleaming new cricket training nets in 2021 to mixed review

 In October 2020 the final decision was made by Lewisham officers and the London Cricket Trust to locate new cricket nets at the western end of Mayow Park, very close to the wonderful and much loved Holm Oak (Quercus ilex for those that appreciate its Latin name).

New nets location overlaid on old nets site

Remains of old cricket nets area


The new structure was completed in July 2021
Brand new cricket nets in their woodland setting

What has changed? 
The new footprint of the nets is 30% longer than, and more than double the width of, the previous one, which had long since been neglected as a cricket training area and morphed over years into a respectfully used community workout space (coming in very handy during the lockdown, used by personal trainers and casual athletes alike).The new facility’s vertical footprint reaches 4 metres high, not including the elevated ground constructed to make a level pitch at the far end. A paved pathway to the nets was also added, perhaps to avoid any muddy shoes treading on the artificial turf.  The nets are angled roughly North-East to South-East and located within a wooded setting, boasting views of very old trees, and (when the weather cooperates) beautiful dappled sunlight. Almost within touching distance are ancient oaks some of which are well over 300 years old. The aerial photo really highlights the woodland feel. A tourist brochure would surely highlight this location as ideal for any number of activities, playing cricket included. 

Change for the better? 

Such brand new training nets will be a joy to cricket fans, seeing not the changed historical landscape but the state-of-the-art sports facility (with five years’ funded maintenance courtesy of the London Cricket Trust). 

Park users have been assured that local schools are keen to have their pupils use the all-weather, all-season net facility and that the majority of net users will be from the local community, in walking distance (hopefully, since the park entrance closest to the nets is in a very residential area with limited parking). Locals may also get to see nationally recognised clubs joining in on the fun. 

In the long term, removing a section of grassy field from Sunday afternoon family picnics and community leisure was deemed worth it with the aim of having healthier and more active local young people (and women too) who it is hoped will now have the means to develop a great love for this quintessentially English game. Mayow Park is one of 50 new and planned locations across London, where the London Cricket Trust is bringing cricket facilities to the people, in collaboration with local councils*. 

*See  https://wisden.com/stories/your-game/club-cricket/the-club-debate-can-the-london-cricket-trust-boost-the-game-in-the-capital  

But a singular view on cricket may miss other important factors that one hopes decision makers also took into account: namely, the social, environmental and visual impacts of the changes (not to mention the long-term costs of upkeep to the nets). To what extent were these factors considered by the London Cricket Trust and Lewisham Council when choosing the location and plans for the nets - and do the benefits outweigh the costs?

SOCIAL IMPACTS:

Someone on one of the local FB groups posted a very succinct summary of their thoughts on 3rd July 2021, which highlight the social impact of the new nets in a park that already has so much to offer:

I think lockdown has shown how much people value the space, to spend time in nature, for their wellbeing, meet friends and family safely, walk their dogs etc. I thought the amenities were sufficient:

2 children's play areas, outdoor gym equipment, 2 sets of picnic tables, a football/cricket (schools pitch) in the centre of the field. A cafe, a thriving community space, tennis courts, a bowling area/  theatre/ event space.

I'm not sure why we couldn't keep it at that? I wonder if it's in danger of becoming over 'curated' zones to the point where people won't have enough space to walk in the park and enjoy being in nature.🤷🏼‍♀️ Especially people who don't have access to their own outdoor space. It's only 17 acres for approximately 28,500 people. I wonder what % of them play cricket?🤔

Indeed, stats on how many cricket players (current or aspiring) live in the community surrounding Mayow Park would be very welcome!

ENVIRONMENT AND LANDSCAPE IMPACTS:

In the past, park surveys carried out by Mayow Park users indicated very many people value the variety and age of the trees, the gently sloping land, the shade cast by trees on hot summer days. They make this park so special.

So to what extent have these new nets enhanced the treescape and the flow of the park slopes? Realistically views of trees in particular have been negatively affected.

Take a close look at the proximity of the Holm oak to the site. Look around the earth works surrounding the nets as soon as you can and before the evidence is removed. Can you see tree roots sticking out of the uneven, scarred earth? Logic suggests they can only have come from the Holm oak. If anyone wishes to correct this logic, please comment.

Tree roots

More tree roots
But this is only parkland after all, only amenity grassland that has been disturbed, a small price to pay when making way for human improvement, surely? 

Only parkland?

Lewisham Council declared a climate emergency early in 2020. We are already seeing severe changes in weather patterns.

Surely parks should be recognised     for the important contribution they make to help mitigate all the climate change challenges that are being thrown at us?

We can each make individual choices, reflecting our priorities and our desired future. Can the importance of attempting to spread the love of one sport across one parkscape be balanced against damaging an environment that some see as vital for everyone and not just one sporting group?

Only time will tell, when we see how the facilities are used and maintained, the grass will have grown back, and perhaps eyes adjusted to the new view…

The new view from Recreation Rd entrance
Alona and Carin