Historic Northolt and Belvue Park.

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!

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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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The Park has had a haircut (and a facelift).

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.

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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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Quadrat surveys of our biodiverse Perivale meadows, 2019.

Last year, five of us conducted three quadrat surveys of the meadow areas to the east of the railway viaduct in Perivale Park (below, red arrow). This is a beautiful grass meadow and part the  Greenford-Gurnell Greenway project, whereby the south meadow has been converted to new wetlands, with the little  stream feeding these wetlands running alongside the north meadow. This meadow and the adjacent new wetland ponds featured in a local BBC news item recently.

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