Friends of Eaglesfield Park wish everyone happiness during the festivities and a peaceful and healthy New Year .
Friends of Eaglesfield Park wish everyone happiness during the festivities and a peaceful and healthy New Year .
The Parks and Open Spaces of the Royal Borough of Greenwich have kindly donated 2,000 native English Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) and 2,000 Daffodils (Narcissus pseudo narcissus) but, of course, they need to be planted!
Britain’s native bluebells are under threat from an aggressive hybrid. Please help us plant native bluebells around the pond.
I thought you might find the following helpful for distinguishing between our native English bluebell and the Spanish bluebell. (Information from the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust – http://www.bbowt.org.uk )
The UK is an international stronghold for bluebells, with more than a quarter of the world’s population found here. More than that, taking a walk through a sweet-smelling carpet of nodding bluebells is one of the definitive experiences of an English spring, and one that I look forward to every year.
Sadly, our native bluebell is losing ground to an insidious competitor: the Spanish bluebell. Introduced by the Victorians as a garden plant, the Spanish bluebell has made it ‘over the garden wall’ and out into the wild. Here, it crossbreeds with our native plants and produces fertile hybrids with a mix of characteristics.
You can use the information below to help you know what kind of bluebell you are looking at. If you see any of the characteristics of the Spanish bluebell then you are looking at a hybrid.
Native bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta0) Photo by Phillip Precey
Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) Photo by Richard Burkmar
Help protect our native bluebell – avoid planting Spanish bluebells in your garden. Although pretty, they are aggressive and can spread into nearby woodland where they breed with our native bluebell.
I also came across the following information on the BBC News Website. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17597489 . It is quite lengthy but I think well worth reading. It would be very sad if our native bluebell disappeared.
Bluebells: The survival battle of Britain’s native bluebells (By Hannah Briggs) Britain’s native bluebells are under threat from an aggressive hybrid, so could they disappear completely?
The bluebell is a quintessential sign of British springtime, with the vast spreads of tiny blue flowers found across Britain in April and May.
In fact, the UK’s woodlands are home to almost 50% of the global population of our native bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta). With its unique scent and the very delicate form and structure of the flowers, it is an extremely special flower, say experts.
“We have some of the best bluebell carpets in the world,” says Katie Lewthwaite of the Woodland Trust. “People don’t necessarily realise, but we’ve got just the right damp climate for them.”
But our native bluebell is now under threat from an aggressive hybrid. And with the UK being home to such a large chunk of the world’s population, it means this bluebell is threatened on a global scale. It’s ringing alarm bells for conservationists.
Many of the bluebells found in our gardens and urban areas are not the traditional British flower, they are in fact an aggressive hybrid (Hyacinthoides x massartiana) – the product of cross-breeding between the native bluebell and the Spanish variety (Hyacinthoides hispanica).
This hybrid was first recorded in the wild in 1963. It’s highly fertile and has spread rapidly in the UK’s urban areas.
But more worryingly, its distribution has also been increasing in woodland areas – the preferred habitat of the UK’s native bluebell and home to some of its oldest populations.
“Evidence shows that when a hybrid bluebell has got into a woodland area it does have the ability to take over,” says Nicola Hutchinson, head of conservation for the UK charity Plantlife http://www.plantlife.org.uk
“Native bluebell woodlands are one of Britain’s most iconic countryside images and we should make every effort to protect them.”
There are concerns that hybridisation could dilute the distinctive traits of our native bluebell over time, according to Dr Mark Spencer from the Natural History Museum.
To make matters more complicated, identifying the hybrid in order to assess its rapid spread is no simple matter – even botanists struggle to tell them apart, says Spencer.
When identifying bluebells, it is important to look at flowers that have just opened. Older flower spikes are less unidirectional and more upright. Also pollen may be lost and the flowers could have lost their scent.
“The hybrids are incredibly variable, which makes identifying them difficult,” says Spencer. “Some hybrids will be almost identical to the Spanish plant, while others are almost identical to the native.
“Sometimes you cannot tell the difference unless you apply DNA analysis.”
Dr Deborah Kohn, a research associate at the Barrett Laboratory at the University of Toronto, has been investigating the hybridisation of bluebells in southern Scotland for several years.
Her research focuses on the natural crossing rate between native and non-native bluebells, which she believes is now the main source of threat to our native species.
Although they may still outnumber non-natives by 100 to 1, the possible scale of eventual change in native populations should not be underestimated, she says.
Dr Kohn planted native and non-native bluebells together in recent research experiments. She found that in just three years the non-natives had reproduced at a much greater rate than the natives had.
So could this spell the end of the British bluebell?
“There are certainly areas in southeast England where the bluebell will become a somewhat different plant to what it was several hundred years ago,” says Spencer.
“There’s even evidence that this is already happening. In London for example, nearly all plants will have varying degrees of mixture with the Spanish bluebell.”
But he does not think it’s a “death knell” for our native bluebell, but spreads in ancient woodland could change irreversibly.
“What we have done may cause irrevocable change to a species for which we hold the major proportion of examples in the world. We should therefore act as we directly caused the problem.”
What could help stop the spread of the aggressive hybrids is milder weather, says Kohn.
“I think this early milder weather might separate out the flowering times of the native and hybrid bluebells. At the moment they overlap completely and can only hybridise when the flowering in synchronous.
“But if this strange weather means that they overlap less, then it would reduce the chance of them hybridising.”
The Natural History Museum http://www.nhm.ac.uk runs a public survey of when and where bluebells start flowering and members of the public are invited to upload details of bluebell sightings, along with photos, on to an interactive Google map .
“Effectively as gardeners in the last 200 years we’ve undone 8-10,000 years of isolation by bringing together the Spanish bluebells with our native species,” says Professor Fred Rumsey, fellow botanist at the Natural History Museum.
Additional reporting by Michelle Warwicker.
Tips from Plantlife: http://www.plantlife.org.uk and Vera Thoss, one of the only three licensed native bluebell suppliers in Britain:
Plant bluebells in an area that gets plenty of sun during winter, which is when they begin to produce leaves.
Bluebells don’t need to be fed as long as they have winter sun.
Dispose of bluebell bulbs carefully – never plant or dump garden plants in the countryside.
Compost unwanted bulbs carefully and make sure bulbs are dead by drying them out thoroughly before putting them on the compost.
‘Thank you’ to everyone who helped to plant 8,000+ bulbs. The crocuses along the bank of Cleanthus Road now provide a magnificent display and great pleasure to park visitors. We hope you will help us to add to this display and protect our native bluebells and daffodils.
Although windy, the sun was glorious enabling us to tackle the unwanted weeds on the bank surrounding the pond.
This year the meadow had become very overgrown with too many “thugs” (couch grass, thistles, nettles, docks), resulting in little hope of the wildflower seeds germinating. Hopefully they may still appear, but only if we control the meadow “thugs”.
We therefore concentrated on a small area of the meadow – thoroughly digging and removing (as best we could) all traces of these unwanted weeds. Unfortunately despite the amount of rain, the area chosen was dry and stony – so very hard work.
We also “rescued” the newly planted mulberry tree which had become smothered in nettles. However we have yet to remove the nettle roots, so no doubt they will be back !
Our small band of FOEP supporters was joined by youth volunteers from The Challenge, a national charity that was founded in 2009,which is the largest provider of NCS (National Citizen Service) in England and will offer more than 18,500 young people the opportunity to graduate from the NCS programme. For more info. see www.ncsthechallenge.org .
Everyone worked very hard and seemed enthralled by the number of small newts they found, although not everyone was so keen on the very fat worms. (No creatures were harmed in pursuit of our mission !)
We would also like to thank Parks and Open Spaces for the loan of garden equipment and staff support – Patrick Galloghly (Park Ranger). Patrick worked with the youth volunteers throughout the day providing advice and guidance. Finally, the prompt removal of rubbish was also much appreciated.
We made good progress towards the winter preparations, but there is still much to do. There are still plenty of docks, thistles, nettles and brambles to be removed and bulbs to be planted. Can you help us?
We are particularly concerned about the dense growth of grasses/reeds intruding into the pond and the spread of the water lilies.
According to the Froglife report (June 2014 see http://eaglesfieldpark.org/its-official-vital-habitat/ it is important to regularly reduce their spread to maintain a mosaic of different zones of vegetation in the pond which provide a diversity of structure: floating, submerged, marginal, emergent etc as well as some areas of open water (maybe up to 30% or so).
We do have 4 sets of ‘chest high’ waders that we can use to enable us to clear the margins of the pond but will be seeking professional advice before tackling the more drastic and difficult aspects of the pond maintenance. We aim to do this by the end October. Can you help us?
The day wasn’t all hard work. We were able to enjoy another Tai Chi lesson with Chew-Yeen Lawes. Everyone was invited to join in. Eaglesfield Park couldn’t have been a better location for Tai Chi and the blue sky and views across Kent added to the wonderful ambience. We would like to thank Chew-Yeen and her students for giving up their spare time to provide our local community with the opportunity to learn more about Tai Chi.
They look simple and beautiful, but I’m afraid not when I try! However, I will persevere. Four weeks ago I joined one of Chew-Yeen’s classes and thoroughly enjoy the lessons and learning about the benefits of Tai Chi. It is gentle exercise and can improve your life focus and restore calm and balance. No special equipment is required. All it takes is your body and a willingness to learn. If you would like to learn more about Tai Chi, please contact Chew-Yeen by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the Tai Chi, Chew-Yeen organised “cake sharing” for a donation in support of MacMaillan Cancer Nurses, our Tai Chi teacher’s chosen charity. However, it was more like a picnic as members of the class contributed with various other dishes – rice, chicken, salad, cheese, fruit, etc. Thank you to everyone! Dare I say it – it was the “icing on the cake” for a perfect day !
Eaglesfield Park is at the very top of Shooters Hill, just behind the tall water tower. The water tower is visible for miles ! Buses from Woolwich include 486, or 244, or 89 (and ask the bus driver for the Eaglesfield Road bus stop). The park is 2 minutes from bus stop. Car parking is available in the roads surrounding the park. Click on the map for further information about the local area.
Sunday 27th September could be described as a day for rejuvenation of the mind, body and environment ! It is certainly going to be busy and everyone is very welcome to join in ! Of Course, Weather Permitting.
10.30 am – monthly pond and meadow tidy up and weeding. This session will be particularly important in order to prepare for winter and a successful regrowth in Spring. 11.00 am – 3.30 pm – Youth Volunteers from NCS (National Citizen Service) 1.00 pm -2.00 pm – Free Tai Chi lesson and demonstration (followed by cakes – £2.00 donation to Macmillan Cancer Nurses). http://www.macmillan.org.uk
11.00 am – 3.30 pm – Following their very successful and much appreciated visit last year, youth volunteers from NCS (National Citizen Service) will again provide valuable help by removing troublesome weeds (thistles, docks, brambles, couch grass) from a targeted area around the pond. They will also carry out a survey within the local area to help promote Eaglesfield Park and community involvement in park activities and environmental issues.
NCS is a government funded initiative that supports community engagement and social integration among young people. The NCS programme, and in particular the skills and experiences gained by NCS graduates, is now recognised positively by employers and educational institutions alike and has grown year on year to some 60,000 NCS graduates across the UK at the end of 2013.
The Challenge is a national charity that was founded in 2009. Their mission is to connect and inspire people to strengthen their communities. The Challenge is the largest provider of NCS in England and is the local NCS provider in London, Surrey, West Midlands, successfully delivering the programme since the initial pilot in 2009. They bring together local people across all generations, ethnic groups and incomes to build a stronger society.
NCS believes that if young people are given the chance they can make a huge contribution to their communities. To help make this happen NCS offers 15 to 17 year olds the opportunity to get together to try new things. Then, with the support of a team, they build and deliver a project that makes a real difference to where they live.
Through delivery of NCS, The Challenge brings together schools, community organisations, businesses and individuals to build a stronger and more cohesive society.
Young people can find out more and sign up at: www.ncsthechallenge.org
1.00 – 2.00 pm – Another chance to learn about Tai Chi and try some simple moves. Following the successful session held as part of the Parksfest event on 12th July and requests of local residents, Chew-Yeen very kindly offered to come back to Eaglesfield Park to run 2 free classes for anyone to join in. Unfortunately the class scheduled for 23rd August was cancelled due to rain. So, weather permitting, don’t miss this opportunity on Sunday 27th September. I (and my husband !) have now joined one of Chew-Yeen classes and can highly recommend Tai Chi, and Chew-Yeen !
Tai chi combines slow and gentle movements with deep breathing and relaxation. It can help to reduce stress, improve balance and general mobility, and increase muscle strength in the legs. You can get started even if you aren’t in top shape or the best of health. Come and join in on. For more information about the Tai Chi, please email Chew-Yeen at email@example.com
Having tried out a few Tai Chi moves, why not linger a while – relax and enjoy the peaceful ambience of the park. Why not bring a picnic ?
Chew-Yeen will be organising “cake sharing” for a donation of £2 in support of MacMaillan Cancer Nurses, our Tai Chi teacher’s chosen charity. It’s a great way to make new friends and has proved popular on previous occasions. Apart from enjoying the cakes (M & S – the Official Partner of the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning), we hope you will support the work of Macmillan. Don’t forget the flask of tea or coffee !
Please note, if it is raining, or the ground is wet and slippery, we will not be able to go ahead with the Tai Chi.
How to find Eaglesfield Park – click on map.
Regrettably the Tai Chi Class scheduled for 2 – 3pm today has been cancelled due to rain. We are all very disappointed and (on behalf of the weather !) apologise for any inconvenience caused to anyone who travelled to Eaglesfield Park for the Tai Class.
We have arranged another class on 27th September. Hopefully we will have better weather.
Following a wonderful Tai Chi session held as part of the Parksfest event on 12th July and the requests of local residents, Chew-Yeen has very kindly offered to come back to Eaglesfield Park to run 2 free classes for anyone to join in.
Tai chi combines slow and gentle movements with deep breathing and relaxation. It can help to reduce stress, improve balance and general mobility, and increase muscle strength in the legs. You can get started even if you aren’t in top shape or the best of health. Come and join in on:
A wonderful opportunity to try a few Tai Chi moves and learn how it can improve your health and well being and according to a local resident at the Eaglesfield Park Parkfest 2015 “Trying out tai chi for the first time and in such lovely surroundings with such a beautiful view was a very special experience’”
There is no need to “book a place”, just turn up. However it would be helpful if you could let Chew-Yeen know if you are interested so that she has an idea of the number of people to expect or if you need further information. Please email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Having tried out a few Tai Chi moves, why not linger a while – relax and enjoy the peaceful ambience of the park and a “communal picnic” to share with other participants. Perhaps you could bring a “covered dish” – some french bread and cheese, or mixed salad or cakes or fruit or a few sandwiches or your very own “signature dish”. It’s a great way to make new friends and has proved popular on previous occasions. Don’t forget the flask of tea or coffee !
It really is worth coming to see what Tai Chi is all about and Chew-Yeen’s enthusiasm and expertise may well inspire you too!
And it is Free !
Please note however ………… Weather permitting ! Check our blog www.eaglesfieldpark.org on the morning of 23rd August and 27th September for cancellation due to bad weather.
Eaglesfield Park has again achieved Green Flag status. The environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy awarded Eaglesfield Park the Green Flag which recognises and rewards the best parks and open spaces across the country. Eaglesfield Park first received the Green Flag Award in 2013.
The Friends of Eaglesfield Park are very proud to receive the award for the year 2015/16. Eaglesfield Park is unique and much loved by local residents and we look forward to future successful years. Join us to keep the flag flying.
Do you remember how the pond used to be?
And now a wildlife pond!
The Green Flag Awards are judged by an army of more than 700 green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, including horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement.
International Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said: “We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme. All the flags flying this year are a testament to the efforts of the thousands of men and women, both staff and volunteers, who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award.”
Green Flag sites in Royal Greenwich
The sites in Greenwich with Green Flags are:
Avery Hill Park
Blackheath (awarded jointly with the London Borough of Lewisham)
East Greenwich Pleasaunce
Eltham Park North and Eltham Park South (as one site)
Fairy Hill Park
Well Hall Pleasaunce
As part of the Parksfest 2015 celebrations Friends of Eaglesfield Park invited everyone to Eaglesfield Park on Sunday 12th July between 2.00 pm and 5.00 pm to relax to the sunny music of Brazilian/ Latin band ‘Roots BR’ and watch a display of Tai Chi with Chew-Yeen Lawes – and maybe even learn a few moves! Weather-wise we were very lucky. Although a bit windy with a threat of rain, for the most part it was sunny and a great day for a picnic, relaxing music and an opportunity to watch a demonstration of Tai Chi.
Chew-Yeen Lawes and members of her class arrived early for their “warm up” before their display at 2.00 pm. Very quickly and with great enthusiasm Chew-Yeen was inviting audience members to join in! Tai Chi provides health benefits for both the body and mind but at the same time is gentle movement for all ages. I (and my husband !) will definitely follow up Chew-Yeen’s introduction. Have you been inspired too ?
The sun was shining, people were relaxing, enjoying picnics and ‘Roots BR’ provided the party atmosphere with their own brand of Brazilian/ Latin music and singing which soon had people dancing barefoot in the park.
It was a good day out for the dogs too ! They all seemed so well behaved.
Chew-Yeen Lawes’ demonstration of Tai Chi with her students was inspiring against the backdrop of views of Kent and Essex and we would like to thank them for giving their time and appreciate the distance (from Croydon !) some class members had to travel to join us at Eaglesfield Park. We would also like to thank Rudi Rocha, who is no stranger to Eaglesfield Park, and ‘Roots BR’ for providing just the right party atmosphere with their Brazilian/Latin rhythms. We are also grateful for the support from the Parksfest/the Greenwich Parks Forum and the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
Thank you, everyone, for supporting the Picnic in the Park and for making the day so enjoyable.
Here are a few photos of the 2013 Parkfest event:
Sunday 12th July – a great opportunity to relax and meet friends
in your local park.