Friday, 18 September 2015

Nature's Gym volunteers work wonders

Weather plays an important part when there is gardening to do so it was a great relief that today, 17h September 2015, turned out dry, relatively warm and with some sun. Nature’s Gym volunteers and staff returned to Mayow Park and there must have been 15 people in total. 

As always there was more than plenty to do. Most of the work was based at the Triangle fruit and herb beds but a few volunteers worked at the orchard and bug hotel.

The orchard saw a team removing weeds round the base of the trees and adding a layer of mulch to suppress weeds and look after the tree roots. 

The bug hotel in the nearby woodland had more woody material added to the pallets to create a cosy environment for our park invertebrates ahead of the winter. Would it be cosy enough to attract a hedgehog or two?  

One of the volunteers did a grand job of cutting down the mini wild flower meadow with shears and we plan to sow more wild flowers in late autumn in the hope of a colourful display next spring and summer.

In the Triangle, the hedgerow round the fruit garden had become untidy with branches stretching over the woodchip path, hindering movement. This has now been pruned. The woodchip path has been raked in an effort to remove weeds growing in it. And the herb bed has had serious attention to remove bindweed which is gradually taking over available bare earth.

hedgerow pruned  to allow access to the path

Richard raking the woodchip path

Meet Gary and Gary

All this work generates plenty of garden waste. Glendale’s cleansing team were able to assist by taking it away.

Some of the team
As always these sessions are not only about serious gardening. 
There is time to relax and catch up on news during tea/ lunch break. 

And home time means packing tools back in the van.
Packing up time
The impact of all this work should be clearly visible to all. The Friends of Mayow Park are very grateful for the regular support we receive from Nature’s Gym volunteers.
This photo was taken the following day.


Looking after the cricket square in Mayow Park

Cricket has made a come-back in Lewisham. Two of its parks, Mayow Park and Hilly Fields, have cricket squares.  Special care is necessary to maintain the squares to a high standard for the cricketers. One man who knows a lot about taking care of these sites is Luke Rayment and I had the good fortune to interview him about his work in mid-September 2015. 

Luke has worked for Glendale Lewisham Grounds Management since 2010 as their cricket groundsman and you may spot him working on site during the cricket season.

Luke maintains the cricket squares in both parks in readiness for weekly matches. His role includes cutting the grass to a specified height, rolling the wickets with a roller machine and marking out the lines in white paint.  He also carries out repairs to the wicket which involves spreading loam and levelling out the site each week. 

Prior to working for Glendale, Luke worked for 11 years to maintain the greens at a golf course. During that time he studied part-time at Hadlow College near Tunbridge Wells for his NVQ2 with training in sports turf management. He enjoyed his work but wanted to move on for his personal professional development.  

When he first started with Glendale he worked alongside two very experienced groundsmen and learned a lot from them. He has attended a number of other courses including Level 1 and Level 2 Foundation training through the English Cricket Board (ECB) where he improved his skills to maintain a cricket square. 

He finds this work very satisfying particularly when he can see the impact he makes on the cricket square. He appreciates the positive feedback he receives from Glendale Lewisham managers, one of whom is a cricket fan.  Park users also show their interest with comments about cricket in Mayow Park and compliments about Luke’s work.

Occasionally he is disappointed by thoughtless behaviour from the public, particularly when people walk across the cricket square, play football and other activities which cause damage. They are not aware of the effort and care that goes into maintaining the site. Fortunately in Mayow Park this is rare.

Luke’s work in our park is special and his satisfaction with what he does is wonderful. Now I know why he always looks cheerful. Thank you, Luke. 

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

meadow grass cut 19th August 2015

I meant to post this a couple of weeks ago. On 19th August I was hurrying through the park on my way to catch a train but stopped briefly to take two photos of a tractor cutting the long grass in the meadow. It gives Mayow Park a rural feel I think.  I believe the grass in the meadow won't be cut again until spring 2016.

early September and back to school

The park has been very busy throughout the summer holidays, particularly on sunny days. Many families with children of all ages, regular dog walkers, joggers, cricketers and others were out enjoying our local green space. On all but the wettest days there were  people in the park. Glendale cleansing team came daily to empty bins and pick up as much litter as they could see. The cricket square continued to be maintained by Luke from Glendale and some of the cricketers.  The number of children using the park during the week will now reduce rapidly as they go back to school.

The school summer holidays ended with a number of days with seriously heavy rain and the grass just kept on growing. So it was great to see one of the park maintenance people from Glendale today (2nd September 2015) busily strimming the grass verges to keep them tidy and well maintained. I spoke to the man in the photo and he takes pride in his work. It can be a lonely job going round the park strimming the grass edges so if you see him, smile and say 'thank you for helping to keep the park looking good'.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

FIDO visits Mayow Park 30th July 2015

I found FIDO and his handler Steve this morning at 9.30 in Mayow Park. They were in the grass area around the dawn redwood tree searching for animal faeces.
FIDO is a specialist dog fouling removal machine (Faeces Intake Disposal Operation), an all-terrain cart able to collect 240 litres of animal mess using its powerful vacuum tube to suck up the mess and into a stainless steel container. And if FIDO cannot get into any corners, Steve comes along with his special poo pick-up stick.

I joined FIDO and Steve for a few minutes to see what we could find in just this small area of the park. Today it seems the main contributions were from the local foxes and these were swiftly picked up. I know families like to picnic in this shady space so it is useful that FIDO comes to visit.
Unfortunately FIDO cannot visit as often as Steve would like because they have to go to other parks in the borough.
Meet FIDO the faeces collection machine
specialist faeces pick-up stick
Thank you to FIDO and Steve for your efforts to keep the park clean.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

THREE new lidded bins for Mayow Park 20th July 2015

What a busy Monday morning for the Glendale maintenance team. While two members of the team put up signs in the Triangle, two more arrived with three bins on their van.

One of the dog walkers saw the bins still wrapped up on the van, smiled and said it had made his day!

Most of the open bins were replaced last year with lidded bins. This made a huge difference to the general cleanliness of the park as foxes, crows and squirrels found it harder to get to the litter while they scavenged for food waste and scattered rubbish everywhere. However we still had a few well-used open bins which generated strewn rubbish so we put in a special request for replacements.
With  budgets for parks reduced significantly, we thought the Friends might have to do some fund-raising but Glendale came to our aid. There was a small amount left from the purchase and installation of the outdoor gym and trim trail and the need for bins was a high priority so Glendale agreed to use those funds to help us in our efforts to look after the park. Thank you to Dave and Lee for installing the new bins. They are much appreciated.

team Glendale digging out the foundations of an old open bin
Our regular, responsible dog walkers were particularly pleased about the new bins.
Not only do they throw away  bagged dog waste from their own dogs, they also pick up dog waste that some less responsible dog owners ignore! AND they collect rubbish carelessly left by some others such as cans, cartons, crisp packets and plenty of cigarette stubs. What a credit they are to the park.
One delighted dog owner hides behind bin, watched by bemused dog.

Glendale put up signs in the Triangle 20th July 2015

The start of the school holidays was a good opportunity to do some positive maintenance in Mayow Park. Glendale  manage the public parks in Lewisham
Glendale sent their maintenance team to  the park first thing on Monday morning.

Two of the team set to work to put up interpretation boards with signs in the Triangle, so that park visitors will better understand the spaces that Friends of Mayow Park and other park users look after. We have the compost area, the mini wildflower meadow, the herb garden and the fruit garden.
We have three black compost bins for our garden waste
Visitors  like to pick raspberries and smell the herbs. Children like to step on the stepping logs in the fruit garden. Many people meander along the woodchip path beside the Dawn Redwood tree or along the path through the herb garden.

Fruit garden sign with stepping logs behind
The herb garden includes cardoon, which resemble artichokes. The bees love the flowers of this tall plant. Sometimes is gets top-heavy with flowers and falls over!
sign in front of drooping cardoon plant

Glendale van parked nearby

Steve and Leon wasted no time in getting the job done. Thank you guys!

Thank you to Steve and Leon

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Lark in the Park 18th July 2015

Thanks to the Perry Vale ward assembly there was a successful 'Lark in the Park' community event in Mayow Park today. It was organised by Sarah Lang, the coordinator for Perry Vale ward.
Mayow Park sits within Perry Vale ward, at the boundary with Sydenham ward. It is great that Perry Vale has this one park within their ward and it is a much loved park regardless of artificial Council ward boundaries.

stall for Perry Vale Assembly
The Young Lewisham Project    had a stall selling hand-made items such as furniture, made by young people. They were also providing a cycle maintenance and safety check. It was good to see that all the Perry Vale ward councillors were there, mingling with other park users.

Young Lewisham Project with PV  Councillors
YLP talking to visitors at  Lark in  the Park event
Face painting proved very popular, with parents and children waiting patiently in a queue. As well as story telling and a teddy bears' picnic, there were plenty of other activities to keep children happy.
As always, the cafe was open and doing a roaring trade in hot and cold drinks.
It was good to see the ice-cream man at his pitch near the children's play area. He has been at our park for quite a few years and is another pair of eyes and ears, helping to keep the park a popular and safe space for people to enjoy.
And  the Caribbean Mix cricketers were also playing a match today. So the park was really buzzing with people.

What a lovely day for a lark in the park.

Microchip dogs event 15th July 2015

A free event for dog owners took place in Mayow Park on Wednesday 15th July 2015. This proved popular and quite a few of our regular dog walkers attended. Dogs were able to get a free microchip and ID tag engraving, to help put dogs and owners back together in the event of a dog being lost. From April 2016 all dogs in England will be required by law to be microchipped.

Members of Lewisham Staff who ran this event in Mayow Park

Poster publicity for the event

Monday, 13 July 2015

We got a mention in Nature Conservation Lewisham blog

Nature's Gym volunteers have been helping  us at the Triangle beds over the past four or five years. Their last visit was on 18th June and we got a mention on blog!

 If this link does not work, copy and past it.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Saturday, 20 June 2015

midsummer orchard workday 20th June 2015

Weather is an important consideration when gardening and the forecast promised some heavy rain. When we arrived there was a light drizzle which soon stopped and the rain held off throughout our session. If we include baby Daniel, there were 9 volunteers. 
Our aim today was :
- to cut down some more of the fence guards round the orchard trees, to allow  branches to spread out
- to remove weeds inside the fencing and a circular space around the outside of the fencing
- to check for pests and diseases in the apples, pears and plums
- do some light pruning of the apples and pears to allow light and air into the middle of the trees
- to do a bit of formative pruning of the plums
- to add a thick layer of mulch round the outside of the fence guards, to retain moisture and help the tree roots
Mike and Jon cut down some of the fence guards. Jon was helped by family members:
three volunteers pose for a photo
Others concentrated on weeding and mulching or on pruning.

volunteer tidies up the freshly laid mulch

Last tree to be mulched
At the end of the session we had completed all the tasks we had set out to do . . . and then it started to rain. The orchard is looking cared for. The fruit on the trees will have a better chance of growing to a reasonable size and we might be able to think about an autumn celebration!

Nature's Gym at the Triangle 18th June 2015

Fifteen people from Nature's Gym came to work alongside friends of Mayow Park to tidy up the Triangle beds. Although it was a very hot day everyone worked hard. The herb bed was the major focus:
-bindweed had wound round most of the plants,
-the alpine strawberries needed thinning,
-the tall cardoon had lower leaves that needed removing
- mint had spread onto the woodchip path
-the bed edge had 'disappeared' under plants
- the wild roses needed to be tamed
Sophie tackles the bindweed
 A sign made by one of the park users a few months ago was discovered under the overgrowth:
sign made for FOMP by a park user 

And poppies sown by another park user could be appreciated as they were coming in to flower:

Jess near the poppies starting to flower
The fruit bed was a bit of a jungle and grass was removed from around the base of raspberries and currants, the apple tree and the plum tree to give them space. The raspberries were thinned as they were rather squashed together and we look forward to tasting this year's crop.

Apple tree hidden in the grass

volunteers stop to chat about what to do next
If you visit now, the apple tree should be much more visible.
The bug hotel in the woods towards the orchard got a bit of attention as two more pallets were added to provide plenty of hiding places for the local invertebrates.
Rita, the park keeper, joined us for a short while after she had been round the park emptying bins and collecting litter. She cleared the thistles and stinging nettles in the mini wild flower meadow. The daisies and nigella in that space are now in flower and were planted there by another of our regular park users.

We are looking for park users who would be willing to volunteer some of their time once a month to help maintain the Triangle. No gardening knowledge is needed as this work would take place on workdays and a few of us could show you what to do. If you or someone you know is interested in helping, do send us an email.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Path edge logs and stepping logs

I generally like to post positive comments on this blog but one thing regularly bothers me. Our volunteers give their time willingly and we would like to feel we have support from other park users.  Yet our volunteers  have to keep replacing the path edging logs in the Triangle.
Over the past few years Nature's Gym volunteers have helped the Friends of Mayow Park  to maintain the Triangle beds.  These are the fruit bed near the dawn redwood tree and the herb bed nearer to the cafe. We are always pleased to have help from Nature's Gym and their efforts make a lot of difference.

One task they do  each time is to bed the wood chip path edge logs between the dawn redwood and the fruit bed. As one person recently said, "It stops the path looking frayed."  They do this because the logs are pulled up by others and not re-bedded.

As well as the path edging logs,  the stepping logs in the fruit bed were originally placed so  people could step through the fruit bed without trampling on  plants and I have watched children having great fun jumping from one log to another. But some of these stepping logs have frequently been turned over to hunt for little creatures and have now deteriorated.  If you look carefully, you will see some of these log remains.

The sitting logs by the mini meadow also deteriorated and crumbled over time made worse by efforts to lift them out of their posts.

So, path edge logs, stepping logs and sitting logs, three sets of logs within the Triangle, were placed for different purposes and all suffered.  While I am sure people mean no harm, they clearly do not think that they are undoing work that volunteers have done. We have had to bed in logs ever more frequently, which is very disappointing for the volunteers who worked so hard. I think the time has come to raise awareness among park users and to ask them to leave these logs, not to move them.
edging log moved out of dug channel
Another rather unfortunate consequence of the log-lifting is damage to the habitat of invertebrates such as stag beetles. I will explain:
At the end of April, Glendale staff helped the Friends by bringing  more  path edging logs and sitting logs. They worked hard to bed in the path edge logs. It really did look good! While digging, they found two older, rotting logs. One had  at least a dozen stag beetle larvae. So these logs were carefully replaced and extra earth placed over them to make them less conspicuous.

Glendale also replaced the sitting logs by the mini meadow. Some of the old logs had rotted so were useless for sitting on. Their hard work was very much valued by us.

During the half term break, some people lifted and turned many of the new path edge logs, as well as the two rotting logs with the larvae. I found the two logs turned upwards, with only a slug and a woodlouse in one of them (see photo) where a few weeks earlier they had been occupied by the beetle larvae.
path edge log upturned
These larvae were not ready to pupate when we discovered them at the end of April. I wonder whether eager young scientists discovered the creatures, did not know what they were and took them away.
It is now June, a time when the larvae pupate and turn into full-sized stag beetles, so I am disappointed at their disappearance.
one of the path edge logs lifted and habitat destroyed
I would ask all park users and in particular the parents, children and teachers who use the park to consider that the logs have been put there by volunteer labour and that they serve as habitats that we should not disturb. There are other logs near the drinking fountain on the grass area of the Triangle which are not bedded in and can be moved at any time.