The raised beds are located in the midst of the 24 orchard fruit trees. The first harvest they have produced has just been gathered (winter garlic). There are still some left to harvest if you want to help yourself!
The park friends group are putting up posters around the park. The first batch of twelve went up about a week ago and another 12 are being prepared.
Time for an exercising walk around the greater Perivale Park to see what is new. Literally a week can make a difference.
We revisited Horsenden west meadows today and returned to where we saw the salsify a week or so ago. It did not let us down. From a distance you might think the meadow had just grasses, but get up close and the effect is stunning. Much better than photographs taken with a phone camera can do justice to.
With golf courses closed to golfers, the rest of us can happily explore them. Part of Perivale Park is its golf course and that is where we went for our exercise today. And found it was snowing!
One aspect of the modern world is accelerating its natural time scales. So when a new pond is created by moving large amounts of earth, the pond is initially largely devoid of any life, whether plants or invertebrate. But a solution is to hand: plant mats. Grown in a nursery and implanted with plants, these mats 1m by 2m in size, can be dropped into the pond for hey presto almost instant pond life!
Weeding remains the central activity for us in Perivale park itself. But we have noticed a star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) emerging in the bulb glade where they were planted 18 months or so ago. Unlike the Fritillaries, this one has not (yet) emerged in abundance. But it is doing better than the wood anemonies which are so far elusive.
With the recent rains and abundant sun, the beneficiaries have been the “weeds” (which if they did not dominate so quickly can be appreciated for themselves). The four raised beds in the orchard garden area of Perivale Park needed some attention! Three of the beds are planted; one with winter garlic, another with flowering and about to seed winter brassicas and the third with a still germinating wildflower mix. But we still need gardeners to come along and plant/deplant/replant something there! Vegetables, herbs, flowers, anything you fancy!
Today’s exercise was to perhaps the best known green area in Greenford/Perivale (after the park of course!); the heights of Horsenden Hill. The hill has a myriad of footpaths, some well trodden but many less so. We have visited often over the years but still manage to get lost!
Greenford Birch Wood is one of the smaller green areas northwest of Perivale Park, running alongside the A40 and where most of the drivers there have no idea it exists.
Just to the south of Perivale Park is Cuckoo Park, reached by a most magnificent avenue of chestnut trees (Cuckoo Avenue) by branching off south from the Greenford to Gurnell Greenway. The trees were planted as part of the development of the Cuckoo estate in the late 1930s. I was at the end of a Greenwayers’ litter picking last year, enjoying the traditional cup of tea and Richard’s biscuits, when a local resident (who was also a thespian and a Churchill impersonator), told me that the newly planted Cuckoo avenue was formally opened by Charlie Chaplin himself. Anyway, if you do need some exercise, go walk along this magnificant avenue; the chestnuts are now in full bloom. Delay and you will miss the flowering.
For a few years years now, Ealing Council has planted areas of the borough with seed mixes to create food for the insects and birds as well as a feast for human eyes. I have just been sent the planting areas for this year (thanks Brad!).
Purple is my favourite colour. I have a professional interest in it ,  and I give public talks on the theme. Greenford (in which ward Perivale Park actually sits in) is associated with the historic scientific revolution of the mid 1800s resulting in the birth of the synthetic chemical dyes industry. William Perkin discovered mauveine (aka purple) in 1856 and set up a factory on the banks of the Paddington branch of the Grand Union Canal near Greenford Green to manufacture it. So when Perivale Park turns into a profusion of purple, I cannot resist showing some photos.
- M. Sousa, M. Melo, A. Parola, P. Morris, H. Rzepa, and J. de Melo, "A Study in Mauve: Unveiling Perkin's Dye in Historic Samples", Chemistry - A European Journal, vol. 14, pp. 8507-8513, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/chem.200800718
- M.J. Plater, W.T.A. Harrison, and H.S. Rzepa, "Syntheses and Structures of Pseudo-Mauveine Picrate and 3-Phenylamino-5-(2-Methylphenyl)-7-Amino-8-Methylphenazinium Picrate Ethanol Mono-Solvate: The First Crystal Structures of a Mauveine Chromophore and a Synthetic Derivative", Journal of Chemical Research, vol. 39, pp. 711-718, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.3184/174751915X14474318419130
Horsenden Hill is the fifth green space surrounding Perivale Park. It comes in east and west sections and today we exercised in the western half (the eastern half involves rather more climbing).
More history, this time east of Perivale Park, towards Perivale and then to Pitshanger. The ancient parish church of Perivale is located along Perivale lane. One can almost imagine how it all looked 885 years ago!
Continuing our anticlockwise exercise-based circumnavigation of Perivale Park, we reach Northala fields to the west of the park. As per usual, at sunrise over the mounds.
As I remarked before, Perivale Park is surrounded on all sides by other green spaces. This time our daily and (very) early exercise walk took us west towards Northolt and Belvue Park. This area has a very long history, dating to medieval and Roman times. I will let the highly informative signs that you eventually come across speak for themselves. They are located near the old Northolt Manor, complete with moat and church. You would hardly think you were in London!
Perivale park has neighbouring green areas in all four (arguably even five) compass directions. The one to the north is called Paradise fields, with the Paddington branch of the grand union canal running along the north and east edges and with Horsenden hill visible further east.
The ambience of the park is changing very rapidly now with spring well under way. In particular, I am keeping a close eye on the orchard, which has trees, grasses, flowers and fruits all planted up from last year. The crab apples were sourced as fairly mature and these are now putting on the spectacular display we hoped we would get. These are not however particularly scented (although the cherry blossom in adjacent streets is wonderfully so) but on our early morning exercise walk today we deliberately took a route that would take us past the wild garlic patch. That was, well, powerfully odiferous (if scent is not quite the right word for it). No mistaking what it is there.
When the Coston’s Brook corridor that runs out of a culvert near the children’s playground and joins the river Brent about 200m further on was opened up about 18 months ago by removing much of the impenetrable undergrowth and blackthorn, we always knew the shrubs and trees would come back. Meanwhile we enjoyed all the new shoots coming up along the new path leading to the new bridge and in the morning with hoar frost they looked fantastic. But it was time to move to the next season and so the haircut arrived yesterday.
The design of the orchard includes a fruiting tree area, a central parade of crab apple trees with four benches from which to sit and admire the surroundings and four square meadows which will provide hopefully long lasting colour during the summer. The central section and the meadows were planted before christmas and are now emerging. These shoots are just the start and no doubt follow up photos describing their progress will appear here in due course.
We notice that more people are visiting the park than normal, but at sunrise (~06.30) there are rather fewer. So a good time to get one’s ration of daily exercise.
… dock leaves. Now, given the current shortage of toilet rolls, I wonder what these leaves might be useful for? An experiment may well be tried. And if successful, we are certainly keeping the location of these a secret!
Ros tells me that two guinea pigs in a box were today found abandoned in the Park near the small gate off Cowgate road. A foster family has now been found for them.
It is one of the delights of nature (and I am no botanist) that in each season, some plants and trees do less well and some do very well. This year, its the daffodils that are not at their peak, with many of the plants in the park coming up with no flowers. But to compensate, the Snakeshead Fritillaries, which were planted in the autumn of 2018 by a communal bulb planting event and whose display in 2019 was somewhat marred by their area being churned up by about 15 vehicles that chose to park there, are now putting on a magnificent display in 2020.
Necessity is the mother of invention. A large batch of trees had been ordered for the park in March, but the world had other ideas for what would happen this month. So what to do with the trees? Temporarily at least, our very own Tiny Forest has been created in an area the size of a tennis court.
Today is the first day of a new set of Coronavirus restrictions in the UK; one exercise walk a day for groups of no more than two people.‡ We have found it best to do this early in the morning and today at 06.30 the weather at that time was absolutely stunning. Things are still happening in the park; we have a new tree nursery being planted!
Around the park contractors are installing twelve new exercise machines, in about five different locations. The largest of these is shown below, which will take six units. I am currently turning up early in the morning (when there is no-one around, as you can see from the photo) in the hope that when the six units are fixed to the base-plates, I will be the very first person to try them all out. So if you do happen upon them before I do, you will take the glory instead!
Here are some of the early spring buds and leaves in the park. It will change very quickly from here on.
Strolling around the park yesterday with Richard, we walked past the flower meadow near the tennis courts. Last year it had been sown with a Linnet bird seed mix combined with brassicas. The latter are now starting to flower, and are showing yellow. Richard had been hoping for the purple sprouting variety and we pondered if these were just as edible or not. Well, coming home, I found out that the generic term for most brassica sprouts is “grelos” in Portuguese. They are often combined with boiled potatoes, egg and salted cod (bacalhau).