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.

Spring butterflies in Perivale Park

Recent warm and sunny conditions have resulted in a profusion of insect life. Probably most noticeable amongst these have been butterflies and various bees. One of the most striking butterflies to be seen at the moment is the fairly large lemon-yellow male Brimstone that will have over-wintered as an adult, perhaps hidden amongst some ivy. There are some who say the name butterfly originated from this species as the butter-coloured fly, though others dispute this attractive notion.

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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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