It is sweltering today and the park feels like a furnace to walk through. Many will be away on holiday, but for those who are about, here are a few lovely things I saw today.
I guess bindweed is hated by most, especially when it is in the garden or the allotment. But now is its moment to become truly beautiful and it is all over the wilder parts of the park.
The same goes for the wood pigeon. The pigeons in Dibden Lane allotment used to eat small cabbage plants within hours of them being put out. So they were not best loved. But actually they are rather beautiful. This one was enjoying the morning sunshine.
Jim at South Glos asked us to keep an eye out for our ash trees, because of the threat of ash die back disease which is currently sweeping the country. We have some amazing trees, some of which will be very old. I have identified fifty one ash trees from within the park. These ones are near the orchard and may be some of the oldest.
As yet, and as far as my untrained eye can tell, there is little sign of the disease in our park, but, sadly, this is unlikely to remain the case. We can expect to lose many of them, starting with the youngest saplings. So we should enjoy them while we can!
There is also a disease on our horse chestnuts near the Langley. Thanks to Pete for pointing this out. I think it is leaf miner disease, which, although it may make for smaller conkers, will not effect the tree in the long term.
That’s all for now. Have a good holiday season. I think I just spotted the first ripe blackberry…
Hi everyone and welcome to the new members who joined at this year’s festival.
Here is some news about the orchard and surrounds. The cubs have been busy constructing this ‘bug hotel’, designed as a habitat for insects, who just love decaying wood. So it is really a pile of different types of wood! The children are already showing considerable interest spurred on by Ed Drewitts’ fascinating insect sweep at this year’s festival of nature.
We have also been clearing and sowing wild flowers to attract insects and, despite the drought, you will see that we have had some success.
We have a work party every month just for a couple of hours and we would be very pleased to have some more members. Here is the group that met this Wednesday – at coffee break.
We spent our time this week clearing grass away from the fruit, so everyone could see it and get to it.
The gooseberries are ready to pick, so feel free and the raspberries are just coming.
Anyone guess what this is? We hope it will become a great tree. Need a clue? Here we go round…
We hope you like the orchard. Its aim is not to be a tightly managed space like a home garden or allotment, but to be what has been called a ‘Forest garden’ – that is semi-wild, growing an abundance of fruit of all sorts with minimal maintenance and maximum interest for wildlife. Our next work party is on Sat July 13th at 10am. Please join us if you can.
Also to say that next Monday 24th June the management committee for the Friends of Emersons Green Park are meeting. So it is a good moment to feed back any comments or suggestions you have about the park. You can do this via comments on this blogsite. Also if you would particularly like to attend the meeting, that would also be possible, so please ask.
Emersons Green Festival of Nature is nearly upon us! It is on Saturday May 18th.
There will be much to enjoy. I gather Martin Brice is doing some bacon butties! Avon Wildlife Trust will be with us and the cubs will be making bug hotels. We will have a photographic display of 46 wild flowers to be found in the park as well as old maps of the area. If you have any memories of Emersons Green before the estate was built, we would love you to come and tell us your story. Highlight of the day will be the visit of the naturalist Ed Drewitt, who this year will be helping us discover the insects in the park as well as other events discovering birds, trees and local history.
You can find the full programme here.
Please make sure to book for the bookable events so that we know how many are coming. We don’t want to turn anyone away.
Also please note that there is an orchard working party this Saturday May 11th at 10am. Come if you can. There is much to do in preparation for the festival.
Festival of Nature
I am delighted to report that this year’s Festival of Nature programme is now published and can be found here. The event is to be held on Saturday May 18th and includes several sessions with our local naturalist Ed Drewitt. Three of the programmed events need booking in advance.
This year we have a particular interest in local history and our relationship with nature. If you have any stories about the area from the old farming days, we would be delighted to hear them. We also welcome Emerson’s Vets, Avon Wildlife Trust and the Cubs and Scouts. We will have some plants for sale including freshly grafted apple trees suitable for your garden as well as some food made from last year’s park produce. Proceeds to the Friends of Emersons Green Park. We look forward to seeing you on the day.
Also – you will see that our community orchard is well in bloom and all the new trees seem to have made it through the rather odd seasons we have been having. The bare patch near Emersons Green Lane is being sown with wild flowers so we are hoping, if the weather is kind, that we shall have a beautiful, bee-friendly area shortly. It would be great if a few new people wanted to join us to help with orchard and are incorporating some week day work sessions to see if that helps. Our work parties this year are planned from 10am until 12 noon on these days
Wed Apr 24th
Sat May 11th
Wed June 19th
Sat July 13th
Wed Sept 11th
Sat Oct 12th
Do you know any stories of our area in the past? We are very keen to collect any snippets of information for our Festival of Nature this year on May 18th.Here, for example, is a picture offered by Ralph of the park under construction. An considerable amount of earthmoving took place to shape the landscape. The shot is taken from near Emersons Green Lane. You can just see the Langley in the distance.
In this space now is our community orchard where all the fruit trees are just warming up to bloom. First up is the Damson, already a beautiful show.
The woodpecker has been busy. Both male and female have been seen in gardens. Here is a short movie of the male at work on the tree by the Langley.
I am very pleased to report that we have successfully formed a management committee for the Friends of Emersons Green Park and this group will be responsible for the Festival this year.
For those who would like to help with the orchard this year. Our first workparty will be on Sat Mar 30th at 10am – 12 noon where we will be sowing wildflowers among other things. If you would prefer these workparties on weekdays, please ask.
Also if anyone would like to help dig out the trolleys and other rubbish from the stream and ponds. I plan to have a go at this on this Thursday 21st. Meet at 10am by the Toddlers playground if you would like to help. Dress to get dirty. Wellies required!
Finally – apologies that you may have received a half completed version of this previously. I pressed the wrong button!
I have been looking for some weeks now and so have many others. Its familiar drumming noise has been heard all over the park, but I was was delighted this morning to catch this picture of our local woodpecker in the tree bordering the Langley Arms. Isn’t it a fine bird!
The park is beginning to wake from its winter sleep now. These graceful snowdrops hang in their fragile places under the lime trees and the observant ones among us may spot the very first hedging about to flower near the toddler play park. The first white flowers are those of the Cherry Plum, I believe, (though,as always,I am open to correction!). The blackthorn will follow later in March or April.
Looking forward to the Spring, I am glad to say that we are hoping to hold another Festival of Nature in the Park this year on May 18th. Ed Drewitt, the naturalist who was with us last year, is offering to return and I am planning a programme with him. Our intention is to offer bird walks like last year and to tell the stories of the trees in the sense of combining a walk to meet the trees with stories, pictures or other memorabilia of the land as it was in the past, before the estate was built. So this is a call for stories please, from those who knew the place long ago. Please let me know what you have so we can find ways to share this with others.
In the light of the recent news about the decline of insect numbers across the UK, we also hope to run a session focused on discovering the insects that live in the park using sweep nets among the long grasses.
So I hope that whets your appetite for the Festival. I realise it is on the same weekend as the Food and Drink festival in the Science Park but I am thinking that they will not clash too badly. In order to put the Festival of Nature on we need to form a management committee for our Friends Group and I am looking for one or two more people to join this. The commitment is minimal but the job is important. Please have a word with me if you care about the park and would be willing to give a little time to this.
Enjoy the Spring!
It is an extraordinarily beautiful time of year in the park. With the low winter sun the bare trees seem to convey a special grandeur. I wonder what stories they might tell us if they could.
The old oak outside the library dates from about 1850 by its girth. Long before the computer or car or phone, there it sat, feeling the world and the countryside around. Now it is encased in paving. To our eyes it looks in poor shape with its trunk all hollowed out, but this can be quite normal for an old tree. Take a look at the other oaks a little further into the park and you will see the same process beginning in them.
One spot I particularly like at this time of year is that little stretch near Adderly Gate, where the ancient trees and hedgerow combine to host so many little song birds, who are just getting into voice for the coming season. These trees are found on the old maps of the mid-nineteenth century and I guess this is why there are so many birds. I met a long-time resident of the area there the other day and he was telling me that this spot was where the old rickyard was when Les Biggins was the farmer at Dibden Farm. He recalled how the hay was laid to dry for ‘three bells’, which meant three weeks (of Sunday church bells). He also remembered the thirteen milk churns which were put out each day under the Chestnut trees near the Langley.
On Sunday this week, I was pruning the trees in the orchard ready for spring and taking a few of the prunings as scions to graft new apple trees for gardens in Southmead, where I have been involved with a project to grow local food. I guess they may have their own story to tell in a few decades.
Let’s hope for plenty of fruit from our orchard this year. Or as they say in cider-producing regions – Wassail!