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.
  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.

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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A magnificent display of – Snakeshead Fritillaries

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.

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An abundance of greens on our doorstep.

The Portuguese always had a love affair with “grelos”, these being the flowering shoots of the Brassica family. Two or three weeks ago we harvested a lot of cabbage “grelos” but those are now in full bloom and no longer tender enough to be consumed. Since last week the mustard variety started producing their “grelos” and we have been harvesting them in large quantities. If it does not get too hot we will go on doing so for the next 2 weeks.

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Restricted life in the UK – the Park is still open (for exercise, in groups of two).

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!

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More spring colour – and a new exercise area!

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!

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Dinner tonight – from Perivale Park.

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).

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Spring bulbs – 2020 style!

It is very wet and in places water-logged out there. We got some bulbs for planting last Nov/Dec from the Bulbs for London charity and they contacted me today for photos of how the bulbs looked like this spring. Whether it is the very mild winter, or the abnormal amount of rain we have been having recently, but the bulbs this year are struggling rather to put on their very best show. The crocus and snowdrops we planted last year have not made much of an appearance and the tulips are yet to show. But here, for the record, and also for our benefactors, are some photos just taken (on a very wet and windy day), mostly of daffodils.

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Heron returns to Perivale Park

The annual Heron has returned to the field between Betham Rd and Coston Brook. This is a regular harbinger of spring who turns up to eat up as many of the new tadpoles as he can. A couple of years ago he bought a friend but on his own this year. With all the new ponds hopefully we will see more Herons in other parts of the park.

Birds in the park – February 2020.

This morning we went for a stroll around the park with Neil Anderson to see how many different species of birds we could spot. The final total: 31 and as  Neil put it “if we’d looked harder we could have found House Sparrows by some of the gardens + previous visits have seen Jay & Greenfinch”. The kingfishers in particular were a treat! As the river Brent improves we hope to see them far more often.

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