Sunday, 19 December 2021
Sunday, 5 December 2021
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|
|Flag flying high|
What does the Green Flag denote?
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|
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)
|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.
Food, shelter, medicine and the air we breathe
Friday, 12 November 2021
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.
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
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
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|
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*.
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?
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.
|More tree roots|
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|
Tuesday, 27 July 2021
On Saturday 24th July 2021 Friends of Mayow Park hosted a bug hunt, led by FOMP’s old friend Iain Boulton. We all met by the Victorian fountain and Iain explained the bug hunt activity. Many people call such creatures ‘bugs’ or ‘creepy crawlies’ or ‘minibeast’. Whatever word you prefer, we were planning to spend one or two hours in the meadow opposite the cafe, hunting for what we could find.
There were 18 of us, including 8 children.
We had all heard about the unpromising weather we should expect on Saturday afternoon but the rain held off and later in the afternoon we saw some sun.
Iain brought with him some sweep nets and a few copies of a Field Studies Council guide* to help us identify these little critters. He gave a demo on how to use a sweep net in the meadow. And we were off in family groups, into the long grass, hunting to see what we could find. The list included
Lots of grasshoppers
A painted wing fly
A ladybird or two
A hoverfly larva
Some very small flies
Early this morning ( 8am) some individuals gave their time to collect litter to make the park a more pleasant place to spend time in. This was ahead of our community clean-up.
Then, a few hours later, Friends of Mayow Park volunteers with Glendale and the local Safer Neighbourhood Team held a communal annual litter picking event.
We had 7 children in 3 family groups, FOMP committee members, Glendale’s Fabio, Emanuel, Ainsley and Vieira plus two PCSOs - Andrea and her colleague. Vieira brought his two children on his day off!
In total we collected NINE bags of rubbish even after the early morning clean-up session.
Thank you to Lisa L and Hannah L for bringing your children to join and help.
Thank you to Glendale for supplying black bags and the loan of litter picker sticks.
And a very big THANK YOU to B & G Cafe for providing drinks to volunteers after the event.
Wednesday, 26 May 2021
What I did the other day wasn't in itself that exciting, I was ultimately just pulling up weeds.
But I came home with a real glow after those 2 hours.
I'll tell you the reasons.
Firstly it is very tangible when there's some lovely fruit bushes being swamped by nettles, long grass and 'sticky buds' (also known as ‘goosegrass’). You literally feel like you are freeing them ready to provide more berries later than might otherwise have been the case.
|Volunteers captured on camera|
Also you get to chat with other volunteers (just 2 others at the moment while we still have to play safe 2m apart).. and pick up good tips. One tip from Alona being that our large piles of 'waste' can be used to make a little natural fence along behind the compost bins, where the old weeds will dry out and provide some goodness back into the ground.
|waste greenery piled under hedge|
Plus it was great to work with Bella, co-chair of Friends of Home Park as we hadn't managed to meet in person despite numerous online chats.
Finally and fabulously was the number of people who stopped as they passed to say hello. Neighbours, Pat from the Sydenham Society, Chrissie from the library, dog walker friends, Hakan a park regular who also looks after the SE26 community Facebook group, Iris from Grow Mayow, parents wanting to learn about the plants and herbs, a wave to Glendale driving past in a van…
It was Mayow at its best to be honest and while there's still some work to do around the Triangle Garden near the cafe, it was a fabulous sociable start.
Next week is #VolunteersWeek. A time to celebrate all you and others do to volunteer in our community. Share on our social media what you get up to, especially to keep our green spaces green. Thank you.
Monday, 1 March 2021
The Friends of Mayow Park committee found out that some of our younger park users care enough about the park that they decided to do something about the litter problem. Read Matilda's report below. Would you be willing to take part in Matilda's suggestion for a monthly litter-pick?
We welcome posts from children who want to improve Mayow Park for everyone to enjoy.
Saturday, 6 February 2021
My previous post highlighted the lake in Mayow Park created by weeks of heavy rainfall, a lake that rises or soaks away, very much dependent on the weather. And the post referred to Adams Rill that flowed in past history.
After heavy rainfall overnight 4th/ 5th February saw the return of a very shallow lake, it seems a new rill has found a route to the lake.
Wednesday, 3 February 2021
|Black poplar in middle of lake|
After reading Pippa’s blog about the temporary lake which arrived in Mayow Park in the last week of January and the fun it brought to park users, people asked how it came to be and why in that location?
I’ll try to explain.
Weeks and weeks of heavy rainfall, with occasional drier days; that’s how 2020 ended and 2021 started, continuing right through January. The spongy ground was saturated, unable to absorb more precipitation. In Mayow Park the paths were muddy, the grass was muddier and some of the drains were mud-hidden, no longer visible or able to do what they were designed to do.
|Deep puddles everywhere|
Then the snow arrived, just for one day, but heavy snow. Sunday 24th January. For a few short hours people went into the park, played with the snow, made snow people; dogs, children and adults enjoyed the novelty. But by the end of the day much of the snow had melted and the rain returned.
Water flowed in rivulets along the paths and down slopes, creating deep puddles in places, towards the shallow river valley to the eastern side, where once a rill* flowed.
Local people may be aware that Mayow Park sits atop very heavy clay which is slow to absorb heavy rain so the water flowed and flowed following downhill routes. It flowed to the lowest level, down into the meadow opposite the cafe and into the scrub area just below Mayow Road. Small lakes have formed here before, lasting a couple of days, but the lake this time was larger than many of the folk round here can remember. It seemed wider and deeper than ever. Dogs had swimming fun. Children came in waterproof boots to have a splashing time. And Barney brought his paddle board to add to the entertainment – see photo by Pippa in her blog.
The water could not go far. It slowly soaked away over the next few days. As water receded, the black poplar, which had stood in the middle of the now shrinking lake, gradually moved to drier terrain. The story of the lake was the buzz of local social media. For a few days it brought some joy in these times of social distancing and remote socialising.
With warmer, wetter winters in southern England predicted into the future due to our changing climate, we can expect to see this occasional lake to return when weather conditions are right.
|The lake slowly drained away|
*NOTE: A rill is a shallow brook or stream. The rill (Adamsrill) no longer visibly flows but it seems likely that, in bygone times, it travelled via Mayow Park through culverts to Bell Green and the River Pool. Nowadays after heavy rain, it revives in back gardens along Adamsrill Road - named after Mayow Wynell Adams (1809 – 1898). He was the local dignitary who offered the site that is now Mayow Park. (Street names Mayow Road, Wynell Road and Adamsrill Road honour his name).
A.S Friends of Mayow Park