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.
The last three days have seen near continuous steady rain. So its time to go out and see how the park (and birds) have responded. The ducks and gulls are out in force enjoying their new ponds. Meanwhile, some of the new paths in the Longfield meadows area have become ponds themselves.
Rectory park is to the west of Perivale Park and just south of Northala fields. The spring show there was subdued but recent rains have brought out the autumn flowers such as the cosmos wonderfully well.
In April, I wrote about the Cuckoo estate and the associated Cuckoo park, which is just south of Perivale Park.
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.
Earlier this year, I put up a list of areas in the London borough of Ealing that had been seeded with flower mixes. Today a comment on the post alerted us that Trinity way open space in Ealing was looking particularly great at the moment. Curiously it was not part of the original list of sites in Ealing. So I headed in that direction and took some photos, seen below.
With mid-summer approaching, and with the help of a few rain showers, the summer seed-mix planted into the meadow next to the three new park ponds is showing its most colourful diversity.
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.
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.
Here are some photos taken around the newly replenished “playground” ponds in the park and sent to me yesterday. The dog is Paula’s and his name is Forrest and the photos are by Joana. Thanks Jo!
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.
Although this forum is about Perivale Park and its surroundings, I could not resist celebrating the partial release from lockdown by allowing visits to other gardens. In this case, RHS Wisley, about 40 miles away from the park.
After the yellows of spring, we now have the whites of early summer. Here are some of the daisies that are showing up well everywhere around the park, and indeed further afield.
The Perivale Park orchard garden (a “pocket park” project) after more than a year of preparation and planting, is starting to show its full colour.
All but one of the photos shown here, taken during our exercise around the perimeter of the park this morning, need no explanation.‡
Several people have asked me about the tennis courts in the park. A keypad system has recently been fitted to the main entrance from the Capital Ring and which is currently locked. What is going on?
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.