Easter at Coombe Wood Gardens

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATerence Meredith,  Gardener of the Year in 2013 and the team have excelled in their choice and variety of plants on display in the rockery this Easter. Primulas, Tulips, Pansies, Pink Buttons and even upside down tulips, Coombe Gardens has it all.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you are intrigued by the tulips that seem to have been planted upside down  I have covered these plants in a previous blog.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

upside-down tulips

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Happy Easter!

 

 

Advertisements

Horse at Tram crossing

I was walking along the pavement when I met a horse. No, it’s not the beginning of a joke, it happened to me recently and up close he/she ( I did not look that closely!) seemed pretty big .  I managed to “pull over” on to the grass verge and then watched as the horse and rider manged to negotiate heavy traffic by the tram crossing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Polite notice: Please keep clear of my hooves I will be running in the Grand National this weekend.

Fortunately I had my camera to hand and was able to capture the events in real-time as they often say on the sports programs. Each photograph I have annotated to give the opinions of the horse if it could articulate its thought aloud.  No doubt the skill of the rider also had something to do with the safe crossing and their onward journey to the stables at the back of Heathfield.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have never met a horse called “trams” before. Does he live round here?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Still trying to find a safe place to cross , such a nag.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Half a furlong left, I hope they don’t call me back for a false start

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Phew! safely across and not much further until I can enjoy a bag of oats

Herb Garden at Heathfield

Last year Friends of the Earth with help from Heathfield volunteers, planted flowers and herbs at the rockery to attract honey bees that are in considerable decline. The result as you can see is a fine spread of spring plants that are all hardy perennials.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Heathfield rockery

Heathfield also benefited from the ingenuity of one council employee who thought it would be a good idea to plant 20,000 crocuses on the vacant plot of land where stood Taberner House, the former council office hq in Central Croydon. He raised £5,000 through a crowd funding scheme online. The unique strain of crocus produced violet flowers in the autumn and was named the Croydon Saffron crocus.

The saffron flowered for two years before the Croydon site was redeveloped. 8,000 bulbs were donated to schools and community gardening groups including heathfield. This blog is being written in April so unfortunately no crocus flowers are available, but I will be sure to include some pictures in my autumn blog .

Meanwhile a plethora of daffodils adorn heathfield’s grounds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

worms eye view of daffs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Magnolias are in abundance at heathfield , these trees or shrubs have amazing  goblet- shaped flowers that appear in the spring. They command considerable space and are mainly half as wide as their height. The magnolia is one of the most ancient flowering tree and as it evolved before the bees it can only be pollinated by beetles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Goblet flowers – perhaps Harry Potter’s favourite tree?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 

Rhododendrons have spectacular spring flowers and  have young leaves and stems covered in a striking dense woolly covering (indumentum) . They need an acid soil and have shallow roots. If you would like to plant one in your garden the roots should be placed just below the surface or the plant may die.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Camelia at heathfield

Dragonflies & trams at Wandle Park

It was a lovely sunny day, (in the middle of March?) when a visit was made to Wandle Park

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wandle Park in the vicinity of Croydon Town Centre

The park is easily accessible being only a five-minute tram journey from Central Croydon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wandle Park Tram Stop with Baratt’s housing development in the background

A number of helpful noticeboards give a  detailed history of Wandle Park.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wandle Park was officially opened 10 May 1890 when a crowd of 30,000 attended.

Unfortunately the park fell into disrepair in the seventies but it was successfully refurbished in 2012 and the river wandle restored to the surface, as detailed in other  restoration blogs

A large number of activities are now organised in the park: a skateboard park, adventure playground, trim trail and a bandstand. In April there will be bat watching, walking football and kite making. We could not agree with the curious poster that appeared in wandle park with the phrase”only the lonely”. The Friends of Wandle Park might disagree so using an image editing program I amended the message solely on my computer and of course, no defacing of the original has taken place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

please note a doctored image, the original poster  with “only the lonely” is intact at wandle park 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Through the bandstand – the invisible man was playing at the time!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Large steps required to navigate this trail

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The pond is a haven for dragonflies in the summer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dragonflies rest with their wings open. Damselflies rest with their wings closed and their front and back wings are the same size.

If you can’t wait until the summer then I have a photograph of a dragonfly.

At the other end of the park you can see the newest and tallest occupied building in Croydon the “Saffron Square”, decorated in the colours of the Saffron Crocus. Saffron being the shades of purple color of a new flower dedicated to Croydon. The name Croydon derives from the word crocus.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the background Saffron Square dwarfing the nearby Delta Point, itself being converted into flats and the largest office conversion of its kind in the UK.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Entrance of river wandle to wandle park

Before the river wandle emerges into wandle park it is still culverted through Croydon. One of the sources of the wandle runs parallel to the Roman Road flyover, underneath the Croydon flyover and along SouthBridge road. It is suspected that the source originates nearby in the far corner of a playing field  in the Whitgift School. I should stress that the exact route is speculative and it is currently being investigated by the Wandle Trust ably assisted by some well-trained volunteers.

On exiting the park via a footbridge towards waddon road, I took some photographs to show the close proximity of the tram line to the park.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Photo taken from pedestrian bridge toward Croydon showing the tram bridge over the railway line.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Addington Hills Chainsaw Massacre

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the picture of utter devastation that greeted visitors to lower, northern section of Addington Hills recently. Where have all the trees gone?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

No more secret passageways through the woods, no unofficial footpaths remain that have been carved by numerous visitors through the years. It feels a lot less secluded. You now see down to the oaks road that runs parallel to the wood.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

view of trees yet to be culled

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Turn 180 degrees on same spot

Is there any justification for the carnage? Well actually yes there is. The ancient oak trees were being squeezed not by triffids but by fast growing birch, rowan and holly as the notice from the Council below explains. It had been retrieved from a muddy bank  blown there by recent storms Doris and Ewan.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It will be interesting to see if the oak pollard restoration extends as far as the other end where the wood meets the tram tracks. Of course, you will be kept posted of any further developments.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I can see the wood now the rain has gone. For how much longer will this view remain?

 

 

The circus off Wandle Park

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wandle Park with Saffron tower in background

The restoration of the wandle within Wandle Park was part of the agreement between Croydon council and Barratt developments. The house builder would restore the wandle above ground and the boating lake in return for building on adjacent vacant land . For further information and pictures of wandle park see my earlier blog.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

restored pond

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wandle park exit towards new housing development

wandle-exit-houses

wandle beyond Wandle Park

In addition the wandle that run through the new housing would be exposed from its existing covered culvert. The center circle of flats around this section is known as “the circus”.

 

wandle-pcworld

wandle flowing through new housing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The wandle is retained within a culvert as seen in the pictures and flows through the new housing , beyond which it again disappears underground before emerging at Waddon Ponds.

 

 

 

Bogged down in Lloyd Park

Beyond the swings and even further than the far 9th hole on the disc golf course, lies a field in Lloyd Park that is  known only to dog walkers and small group of local residents. Befitting its secret  location it can only be accessed through a hole in the hedge, a legitimate hole I might add and not one created by errant youths.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

secret access

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ignore the no trespass signs this refers to the old school playing fields of the former John Ruskin school long since closed and re-engineered  as a sixth form college  a mile up the road.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With the heavy rains of last two months still in the memory large puddles are in evidence in the other higher parts of the park. A natural water jump for the parkrun competitors an event that takes place every saturday morning,  although the proliferation of puddles in close proximity  has more in common with a game of hopscotch than a fun run. A spokesperson for parkrun was unavailable for comment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A large puddle?- No a natural pond

After a longish walk and remarkably clean trousers  the new Lloyd park cafe was a welcome retreat with cofees all round.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the rooks are static in the top branches waiting …..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

……..they are off to get the latest installment of my blog!

 

You Dirty Rats

Down by the Waddon pond something lurks with a rather long tail. Yes, it’s a dirty rat helping himself to the grain feed left by well-meaning members of the public for the swans and ducks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A rat on the bank

It was difficult to photograph a rat as they never sit still as I can testify from the intrepid smaller house mouse that is currently occupying my property. I took many  unusable photographs before the rat got used to my presence and settled down to feed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Foraging for food

Later he was joined by a second rat, they never mentioned two of them in “toad of toad hall” or “wind in the willows”. A lady passed by curious that I was standing still and photographing what looked like from her angle an ordinary patch of grass bank. As she came closer she remarked the rats were rather big and furry and gave out a hearty laugh.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

deux rats

Later I was photographing the swans who came out from the pond to say hello. A couple of labrador dogs were curious about my camera and stood beside me quietly watching the swans.  The peace did not last long , the swans noticed the dogs and the  swans started hissing and reared up to their full height raising their feathers in a show of defiance. Their year old cygnets were behind them  and the adult swans came extremely close affording me some great shots. Shame that by now the light was fading, but at least you get a good impression of the scene.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Swan alert

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Swan warning

The parkkeeper came over as it was near closing time and told me the waddon pond swans are very tame. He then politely asked me to leave as he was locking the gates. No one has said that to me since I was a young boy down the very same park. Once I was seven years old ..

 

Ice ponds and conservation

With the temperature plummeting recently , it is not surprising that the ponds at heathfield are frozen. The ducks may have problems accessing their house unless they get their skates on! In fact the house was abandoned after the summer so no harm done to their young.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Frozen duck house

Similarly the pond at Bramley bank , situated just below heathfield is also frozen. It is the largest natural woodland pond in Croydon. The resident heron was not at home having to fly further afield for food.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pond at Bramley Bank

Bramley Bank is managed by the Wildlife Trust and assisted by their teams of volunteers, family and friends they  were out coppicing, clearing the woodland path of encroaching trees and overhanging branches. They have also been clearing the middle of the wood to allow more natural light to reach the wood floor enabling future fauna and flora to flourish in the spring.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

coppicing by the Woodland Trust

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On my return to Heathfield I noticed that the herdwick sheep, Sam and Ben were out in the orchard despite the weather. Herdwick sheep hail from Cumbria so are used to harsher winters. Can you tell who was cheeky enough to stick his nose through the gated bars at the entrance? No it wasn’t me!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mystery sheep

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

yes it is Sam

A week is a long time in the park

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

a snowy coombe wood

What a difference a week makes regarding the weather, last Friday snow fell on Coombe Wood Garden. Today at waddon ponds the sun shone and the water was crystal clear.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The swans were very inquisitive as we stood on the viewing platform. While they may appear contented, the cold snap has caused a dearth of insects and natural algae that the swans feed on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The adult swan was even prepared to leave the safety of the water and encroach onto the bank in case we had food to offer.

You should be careful about feeding bread to swans as mouldy bread can kill them and any processed bread is unhealthy. The council parks recommend whole wheat grain in its natural state, not processed, brown rice and  lentils.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA