Sunday 11 December 2016

Tree dressing photos 3 - group pictures

This is the last set of photos from our Tree Dressing event in Mayow Park on Sunday 4th December 2016. They were taken by Simon, a photographer working for Helping Britain Blossom who support The Orchard Project.
If you use any of these photos please acknowledge Helping Britain Blossom.
group photo 1

group photo 2

tree with ribbons

sing along at the end of the morning

Tree dressing photos 2- decorating the trees

This set of photos show some of the tree dressing that took place. They were taken by Simon, sent to our event through Helping Britain Blossom.
Our event was publicised at the end of November on this link:
If you use any of these photos please acknowledge Helping Britain Blossom.

which branch shall I tie it on?

tying ribbons high up

tyingribbons to tree

parent and child tie ribbons

one beautifully decorated fruit tree

tree dressing photos 1 - story teller

Photographer Simon, sent by The Orchard Project and  Helping Britain Blossom, took some great photos.
We have been told we are welcome to use the photos but please always  acknowledge Helping Britain Blossom.

Helping Britain Blossom was officially launched in October 2015. See
On this website it says:
Helping Britain Blossom is all about helping local people create, restore and access orchards to enjoy and use for good in their own communities. A community orchard isn’t just a collection of trees, it’s a powerful way to bring people together.
At The Orchard Project, we’re really excited to be a founding partner with the opportunity to work with communities from all over the UK. Helping Britain Blossom will use our successful community orchard project model. Together we will share knowledge, skills and resources, supporting each other to reach out to communities to campaign for better use of public spaces whilst building healthier, happier and more sustainable communities.
And our Mayow Park Tree Dressing event is featured in the Helping Britain Blossom website: :

I will post a selection of photos as three separate posts . Here we feature the story teller
workshop to prepare for story telling 

In the woods with Amanthi for the story telling session

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.

Tree Dressing 2016 - preparing our event

What is Tree Dressing about? Why hold it in Mayow Park?

We all know that trees are important and that we should not take them for granted. Customs around the world include tying ribbons, writing messages on fabric, hanging objects and more. The celebration brings the community together to appreciate the trees around us. Mayow Park has some ancient trees but also a young orchard. Lots to celebrate.
Some people who heard about our idea wondered why we would be doing  Christmas decorating as that was what tree dressing meant to them. They were surprised that our celebration was not intended to be a Christmas event as it cuts across many customs and cultures. It pre-dates Christianity  as trees have been valuable to people for all time.Tree Dressing is celebrated all over the world  among many cultures at different times of year. A charity called Common Ground pulled customs together and revived Tree Dressing into an English cultural event. They started this  in 1990 for the first weekend in December.
But people are very busy at weekends at this time of year so how could we attract them to our event? We came up with more ideas: a story teller? singing round a tree? Try to ensure the date does not clash with other local events in Sydenham and Forest Hill. So the date chosen was Sunday 4th December 2016 from 10 am to 12.30 pm. The site we selected was the orchard. One volunteer brought lots of coloured fabric strips and helped to set up. Another brought string for tying objects to the trees and tree guards. A musician with young children brought his guitar to enhance our sing-along.  The Orchard Project through Helping Britain Blossom arranged additional publicity and a photographer.
common beech leaves
beech leaves

So our ideas grew and preparations were made, permission sought and forms filled. (To be continued . . . )

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Press release about our tree dressing day

I found this on Helping Britain Blossom website. It is all about the Mayow Park Community Orchard and our planned tree dressing event this coming weekend. What great publicity!

Tree Dressing Day in Mayow Park Community Orchard

Event Date: 04 Dec 2016
Head along to Sydenham’s Mayow Park Community Orchard on Sunday 4th December for a winter orchard celebration and dress a tree for Tree Dressing Day!Tree Dressing Day, initiated by Common Ground in 1990 and held in the UK during the first week of December, is based on customs from all over the world, including an old Celtic custom of tying cloth dipped in water from a holy well to a tree and the practice in Japan of decorating trees with strips of white paper, or tanzaku, bearing wishes and poems.
The day aims to highlight our responsibility for looking after trees and reminds us of their enormous cultural, spiritual and environmental importance. It is fast becoming recognised as an annual opportunity to celebrate trees in the UK.
 Mayow Park’s community orchard, which was established in January 2012,  and expanded in early 2016 with the help of Helping Britain Blossom, is one of a number of community orchards across London for local communities to manage, enjoy and use, bringing people together to create green spaces and build healthier, happier and more sustainable communities.
Located within the 17-acre Mayow Park, Lewisham borough’s oldest municipal park, the orchard is maintained by the community for the community, overseen by the Friends of Mayow Park, an 8-strong team of volunteers from the local area.
Alona Sheridan is the chair of the group and an Orchard Leader for the Mayow Park Community Orchard. Alona is also a Helping Britain Blossom Orchard Mentor, which enables her to share her knowledge and experience to train others on the necessary skills required to set up and maintain an orchard.
Alona told us why Mayow Park Community Orchard are holding a Tree Dressing celebration:
“Tree Dressing Day is an opportunity for us, as a community, to appreciate the trees we have and the benefits they bring to all of us. It’s our chance to say thank you to our leafy friends. Our own community orchard with its 18 fruit trees helps bring people together from all walks of life, encourages them to be outdoors enjoying nature, teaches them new skills and provides free fruit to pick, eat and cook. As well as having fun on the day, we’d love to get more people involved in the orchard’s care and upkeep and we hope the tree dressing event will encourage them to do so, not just this year but for years to come.”
Ryan O’Kane from The Orchard Project and Helping Britain Blossom’s project manager for London adds:
“Like all community orchards, Mayow Park Community Orchard is a real asset to the local area and the Friends are very proactive in organising events such as this winter orchard celebration to encourage more people to get involved and reap the benefits. With their ongoing support and that of Helping Britain Blossom we are looking forward to welcoming the next generation of orchard lovers who will nurture it and see it thrive for years to come.” 
The Friends of Mayow Park who have organised the event are inviting locals from Sydenham and Forest Hill to come along between 10am and 12.30pm to join in the celebrations, which as well as tree dressing will include storytelling, craft activities and a winter sing-a-long. 

Message from Perry Vale SNT

This message about pedal cycle thefts was sent from the Perry Vale Ward Safer Neighbourhoods Team on 29th November
From: <>
Date: Tue, Nov 29, 2016 at 5:26 PM
Subject: Perry Vale Ward - Crime Alert Message

Dear residents,
Over the past two weeks, there have been a number of pedal cycles stolen from rear gardens across Perry Vale Ward. This type of theft can be easily prevented by ensuring your cycle is securely fastened to an immobile or heavy structure or better still, kept indoors. In addition to this, marking or etching your postcode and house number on bicycles that are valuable is a good deterrent to thieves because they know these items are more easily traced by the police, and it reduces their ability to sell these items on.
Further to this, there have been a number of occasions where home owners have found their gardens have been entered. Although nothing had been taken, we believe this may have been someone intending to enter the garden shed. Can residents please make sure that if they have a shed, it is secured with a suitable lock as well as ensuring all gates or entrances to their gardens are secure in order to prevent easy access.
If you would like further information on home and garden security, please go to the Metropolitan Police Website which has a wealth of crime prevention advice under the appropriate headers or contact us at:
Richard Bailey PC 891PL (DWO)
Perry Vale Ward
Safer Neighbourhoods Team Metropolitan Police Service Catford Hill Police Station 128 Catford Hill, London SE6 4PS
Phone - 0208 721 2480 (Internal 727642) E-mail -

Thursday 17 November 2016


People who have lived in the locality for some years will remember Dr Hilary Graver, known to others as Mrs Hilary Jarrett. Long-time members of  Friends of Mayow Park (FOMP) have very fond memories of her.
Hilary became actively involved with the Friends of Mayow Park in 1996 when it was still known as Mayow Park Users’ Group and she remained very active until 2014. As Chair of FOMP for 5 years and Treasurer of the group for much longer she steered the group through a time when many parks were in decline, her aim always to ensure that Mayow would be a much-loved and well-used park. She pushed for the name change to Friends of Mayow Park in the late 1990s.
In the early days the Friends of Mayow Park held their quarterly meetings in the homes of members. Hilary knew many people in the community and it was not long before she arranged with the then Head of Forest Hill School toallow FOMP to  meet at his school and for him to participate in our meetings. This arrangement continued until Peter Walsh retired as the school Head.

She believed in the importance of trees to the environment. In Mayow Park, she cared about the magnificent ancient oak trees, which provide a home for many invertebrates, birds and mammals. She, along with husband John and neighbour Bruce, measured the girth of every oak tree and registered the results with the Woodland Trust.

The custom of tree dressing, which takes place annually on the first weekend in December, was embraced by Hilary as a positive community activity in Mayow Park for a number of years, with one particular oak tree being chosen, its long horizontal branch no more than 8 feet above the ground.
Hilary (on right) at Tree Dressing December 2008  © Heather Mallinder

As well as celebrating the ancient trees of Mayow Park, Hilary was keen to get involved with tree planting. In January 2010 the Friends planted a larch, a deciduous conifer, in recognition of the celebration of Tu B’shevat, the Jewish New Year for trees. Hilary was there, spade at the ready, to make sure the tree was well-planted.
Planting a larch behind the bowls green January 2010 © Emma Tarling 
The first fruit trees were planted in January  2012. Sponsors were invited to come forward to select heritage varieties to buy. Hilary chose and planted Lane’s Prince Albert apple. It was a variety she knew from her childhood. For the next three years, from spring to autumn, she and John came once a week to deliver 20 litres of water to the roots of the tree, to ensure it would grow strong and healthy. Eleven fruit trees were planted in 2012. Since then the orchard has expanded to eighteen trees.

Lane’s Prince Albert apple tree © A Sheridan
Many people like the ornamental, old Victorian drinking water fountain which is a feature in the park. Long ago it went out of use, its lead pipes filled with concrete and the drinking cups removed. There were some who wanted it restored and Hilary took on the task to find out if this would be feasible. She contacted the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association to find out if it would be possible to apply for grants to restore it. She met representatives from that Charity and all concluded that it would it would not be possible. Undaunted, Hilary decided that the way forward would be the installation of a new, modern drinking water fountain, as near as possible to the Victorian one. Her communications with the Drinking Fountain Association went back to 2009.

Fountain with new plaque installed 2014 © A Sheridan
Hilary wanted the public to be aware that the fountain was a contribution from the Friends of Mayow Park with a grant from the Drinking Fountain Association so she ordered this plaque which was installed by Fred Baverstock and his colleague,  Steve.

Plaque located behind drinking fountain © A Sheridan

Another campaign she led comes to mind: the installation of the bowls cabins on the green so that the bowls club could vacate the pavilion which was in urgent need of refurbishment. Hilary was furious that FOMP had not been fully consulted about plans to install shipping containers between the bowls green and tennis courts. Thanks to her negotiations with Lewisham and her local campaigning, the cabins were finally located in their present position, though she always viewed their current location as the lesser of two evils.

Mayow Park was awarded its first Green Flag in 2011in recognition that the park had reached a certain standard of maintenance and that the local community was actively involved in caring for the park.
October 2011 first Green Flag for Mayow Park  © A Sheridan 
The dangerous state of the paths was a serious cause for concern and Hilary campaigned hard for improvements. From time to time paths were temporarily repaired, but this was never enough. The first genuine improvement was the complete resurfacing of the path parallel to the children’s playground. Sadly, Hilary did not live to celebrate the resurfacing of most of the paths, a task completed in Summer 2016.  
New path towards children's playground July 2011 © A Sheridan
Emma, a former member of FOMP, moved away from Sydenham a few years ago. She remembers Hilary’s role in Mayow Park. 
"I first became involved with FOMP at the end of 2008 as I was concerned with the state of the children's play area. At that time, the Mayor of London launched a competition to encourage communities to vote for funding to improve a selection of local parks. 
I remember standing outside the Co-op with Hilary on cold winter days speaking to people about the future of Mayow Park and what was desperately needed to encourage more use. This competition created an awareness of our park within our neighbourhood and a steady flow of funding by other schemes and charities followed, giving us the opportunity to make those necessary improvements for the benefit of everybody in the community." 
An article in the Newsshopper January 2009 about  this competition quotes Hilary:
"The park has been badly neglected and has been going downhill since the 70s. All it needs is some tender loving care but it needs the money to do this. Most people want the paths improved, the restoration of the pavilion, and a park keeper so everything can be supervised." 
Unfortunately Mayow Park did not win that competition though one in a neighbouring borough did.

"Although I had known Hilary for many years, it was a pleasure to work with her when she was Chair of the Friends of Mayow Park and I was Cabinet Member for Lewisham’s Customer Services. Hilary’s commitment to improving the park and ensuring the services it received from Lewisham Council’s parks maintenance were second to none. Her tenacity with issues is expressed in the installation of the new drinking water fountain which was much needed as Mayow Park’s Victorian one had been taken out of use due to its original lead pipes." 

It is easy to list the many activities Hilary championed in Mayow Park but it does not in any way convey the amount of documents that had to be read, letter writing, telephone calls (before emails became common place) and meetings that Hilary would have attended to ensure that whilst on her “watch” Mayow Park was the best it could be. 
Hilary remained very active until 2014. Even after that she could be seen taking a daily stroll round the park.
She died on 29th July 2016 but her dedication to the park will remain a lasting tribute.

Monday 14 November 2016

Tree Dressing event 4th December 2016

Exciting news!
The Friends of Mayow Park will be holding a tree dressing celebration with a difference - it will be held in the orchard. People will be able to make objects using items found in nature to hang on the tree guards of the orchard trees. Or they may prefer to write messages on fabric to hang around the trees.
To make this more of a celebration, Amanthi Harris of Storyhug will be helping children to create objects to use in her story telling session.
This celebration is for all ages, for anyone who loves trees.
We had a request to have singing around the trees and  thought that singing winter songs would generate positive energy. Ideas for a sing-along include White Christmas, Deck the Halls, Frosty the Snowman. If you know anyone who plays a musical instrument and can join us on the day, that would be great.

So, what is Tree Dressing Day? It was initiated by Common Ground back in 1990 and they chose the first weekend of December, which is also the final weekend of National Tree Week. It is a chance for people to come together and think of the role that trees have played in shaping the locality and their impact on our lives.
At the simplest level tying strips of cloth or yarn is enough. Some people will have seen 'yarn bombing' where trees are decorated with bright fabrics and yarns.
Tree dressing day is an opportunity to come together and share tree stories.
Mayow Park has some very old trees, a whole range of mature trees  and also an orchard of young trees.
Let's celebrate our trees.

Thursday 13 October 2016

Gardening with Glendale 13 Oct 2016

As always when working out of doors, we hope for dry weather. The forecast though was a bit uncertain and there had been rain earlier in the morning. How lucky we were that by 10a.m the rain had passed  and we were soon working hard.
This session saw Glendale managers and Friends of Mayow Park working to tidy up the fruit bed  and the mini wildflower area in the Triangle.
The first task was to remove the stepping logs in the fruit bed. Many logs had been covered by couch grass and those that were still visible were rotting and slippery. In a very short time they had all been moved to create an invertebrate habitat in a corner by the hedgerow. A robin came to join us with the promise of a feast and a frog or two hopped away as we disturbed their hiding place.  Chris wheeled barrow-loads of woodchip to fill the small craters where the logs had been.
new log pile for invertebrates
camouflaged frog
holes to fill in 
The sitting logs near the holly tree and hedgerow needed some remedial work. Some logs had rotted. This was not a problem and in no time the Glendale team had it sorted.
Let's start with this log
warm work - time to remove jackets
The wild flower meadow was taken on by Sandra who cut down all plant matter from the site. Just as well she is not too squeamish as there were slugs and a frog hidden in  the vegetation.
Wild flower meadow cut

canes that were dug up
raspberry patch
Sue and Dave worked on the raspberry patch, pruning most of the canes and digging up some to allow more light in.

Here are some more photos showing the sitting logs, the team and the large pile of garden waste that was generated. All the garden waste will be taken to a depot for shredding and turning into compost.
Mike was skillfully pruning the wild rose bushes at the apex of the Triangle, at the herb bed closest to the cafe, and very visible to people entering the park. The roses are now full of delicious-looking rose hips for the wild animals  so care was needed not to lop them all off. Mike also pruned the hedgerow along one side of the fruit bed and it looks much better now. 
some of the team
the team again
story circle
job done
large pile of gardening waste
another pile of gardening waste
It was great to have the Glendale team  to help us as the fruit bed had become rather overgrown. While the team were in the park they also chopped some brambles in the bushes as these were beginning to spread onto the path and they also tidied up the tree pits around the row silver birch trees in front of the bowls cabins. The Friends of Mayow Park will organise another volunteer workday next month.