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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Visitors to the park may have spotted notices describing progress in the Greenway project. I also attach it here if you want to peruse the details, thanks to Richard!
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.
People have been asking about the new ponds in the park. When first dug, they did look rather raw, although even now just a few months later, they mounds of clay spoil surrounding the ponds are starting to green out. Richard has kindly sent us some photos of how a newly created pond develops over the first six years or so of its life and I share those here.
The first real cold snap of the winter has resulted in hoar frost on the twigs and branches and a very slightly frozen surface to the new ponds in the park. The stream feeding them is still flowing, so its unlikely anyone will (or should) be ice-skating there this winter, or indeed in the future given the direction of climate change.
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.
Richard, who organises the Greenwayers diary (and much more) has sent the following dates for clean-ups in 2020. Continue reading “Gurnell-Greenford Greenwayers Diary for Cleaning Up in 2020!”
Google maps has for some time allowed anyone to upload a photo of a feature on the map. Once you have done this, they then kindly send you periodic encouragements to continue the habit by revealing the viewing statistics for your photos and a slider which supposedly rewards your activities with “points”.
January 1st and another year to look forward to – lots of projects and ideas on the brew. Here I show splashes of colour still visible in the park and the first signs of spring in the orchard.
I noted the planting by the edge of the new river in the extended park area last week. Now the BBC has spotted this new wetlands and you can see the TV report here (time codes 5:04 to 7:05: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000csmw/bbc-london-evening-news-23122019#t=5m4s
Richard has just sent me this link to the Costons lane river Brent monitoring station (the weir near the new bridge). The display below is live.
Today’s planting was of sedges, rushes and other damp-loving plants along the course of the newly created stream in the extended park area east of the railway embankment. Many of them will produce interesting flowers next year, and will naturalise the shallow banks of this new stream feeding the wetland ponds in the adjacent meadow.