Dawny ponds.

Visiting the park just before dawn is an interesting experience. It can be full of joggers and dog walkers and if you visit regularly you get to know most of them! I tend to go out to tidy up the park of litter before the commuters take over and perchance to pick up a spare roll of litter bags from the refuse collectors, who also tend to be out at that time. Today, dawn rose whilst I was passing the ponds and I managed the following snaps.

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Arum or Calla Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) is actually Cuckoo Pint/Lords & Ladies (Arum Maculatum)

London is sweltering at the moment (Greenford, ~34, Algiers a mere 28°C). Visitors to the park do not linger long in the open sun but seek secluded glades for relief. One such glade in Perivale Park was discovered this morning when a few of us gathered informally for some exercise. After half an hour of flexing as many muscles as could be reasonably stressed on a hot day, I noticed a splash of red colour in the background. Colour too is none to abundant at the moment, with the seeded and now parched wild flowers suffering as well.

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The orchard garden “pocketpark” – at Wakehurst.

Perivale park has a small “pocket garden”, being the old bowling green converted into an orchard with 34 fruit trees, four raised beds, four seating benches embedded in floral borders and four larger garden quadrants. These latter were prepared with a layer of sand last year and planted with bulbs, of which the allium (ornamental flowering onions) are currently in full glory. But earlier another bulb had its moment of glory, the Eremurus or foxtail lily (desert candles). This was quite an unusual planting, and a bit of an experiment to see if it will survive a winter and flourish.

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Flowers, for everyone to enjoy in their natural surroundings please!

The original meadow, first sown in profusion in 2017, has now morphed again as encouraged by recent showers. The flowers showing up now have a certain delicacy which requires a little extra attention from passers by. The cosmos about to come will soon balance this with a different more robust perspective. Note the allium in the orchard meadow that is finally starting to show its own colour.

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First Perivale Park . . . then King’s College Cambridge!

In 2017, a large meadow in Perivale Park was transformed with wildflowers. Next, the erstwhile manicured lawn of the old bowling green was similarly transformed last year, after it has to be said a few years of neglect. Now, news reaches me that another pristine and rather more famous lawn, apparently previously manicured and most definitely not neglected for 300 years or so, has imitated Perivale Park and gone all colourful.

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Perivale Park Ponds get some perfused plant mats.

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!

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Weeding exercises in the park – and the ponds quickly refilled.

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!

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Cuckoo Park, Cuckoo Avenue, Chestnuts and Charlie Chaplin.

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.

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Perivale Park Purple-Pink Profusion.

Purple is my favourite colour. I have a professional interest in it [1], [2] 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.

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  1. 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
  2. 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

Scents and colour in the park and orchard.

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.

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Perivale Park orchard garden: the meadows and the first flowers!

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.

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