Well over 100 people attended our first Friends of Manor Park ‘Nature Day’ – our best attended event yet.

We arrived early to get set up. It was a lovely warm sunny April morning. Manor Park is very peaceful first thing. Just a few dog walkers minding their own business.

I was soon joined by Elliot Newton, from the Environment Trust. We drove our cars across the sports field over to the newly restored Bluebell Copse, to get our equipment in place, and our base-camp set up. We were soon joined by the team from 1st Old Malden Scouts, who set up next to us.

By 9:45am we were ready. James, our web-designer, and photographer for the day, had planted all 16 clues for Nature Trail in various locations across the park’s 25 acres. All Elliot’s gardening equipment was neatly laid out on the grass ready for our volunteers. Our new event shelter looked fabulous. Sandra and David were ready with the refreshments.

Approaching 10am we were joined by a growing number of adult volunteers, including a couple of our local councillors, and quite a few familiar faces. Sandra and David made everyone feel very welcome with hot drinks.

I gave a short welcome speech, and then handed over to Elliot who explained the tasks for the day – sowing wildflowers in the rear meadow, weeding and laying woodchip on the path in the Bluebell Copse, and some litter picking.

As the volunteers headed off to engage in their tasks, the area started filling with Beavers, Cubs and Scouts from the 1st Old Malden Scout Pack, and parents with children, who were going to do the Nature Trail. (Note: We’d love to do some work with other local scouting groups next year).

Elliot gave the children a short nature talk. The 1st Old Malden Pack then headed off to survey wildlife in the park, whilst the children with parents embarked on the Nature Trail, or litter-picking, depending on what grabbed their fancy.

The team in the copse made great progress over the course of the day, pulling up the new growth of nettles, laying wood-chip on the path, and even building a bug-hotel out logs and branches. Our Bluebell Copse looked magnificent.

Over in the rear meadow life was little tougher. We hadn’t quite got the knack of removing strips of grass to prepare the ground for the wild-flower seed, however, we got there in the end, accompanied by the sounds a local woodpecker drumming away on a nearby tree.

We sowed about 20m2 of seed – a mix of perennials and annuals especially suited to heavy clay. Time will tell if they take. I suspect it’ll take us 2 -3 seasons to get the flowering meadow properly established.

The children on the nature trail had a great time exploring the park, finding places they’d never been before. Some were unaware there is a seasonal pond the park, and on Saturday it was teaming with tadpoles and newts.

Brian Schindler (far right), from the Kingston Permiculture Reserve, turned up with an apple tree in the afternoon. We helped him planted it near the path leading to the rear meadow. If it takes it’ll be a whopper. (This maybe the first tree in a community orchard.)

The day wrapped up around 2pm. The Scouts had cleaned us out of biscuits and cake. Our wild-flower seeds were sown, a wood-chip path was laid, a copse cleared of nettles, and a lot of children had had a lovely morning exploring the wildlife of Manor Park.

A BIG BIG thank you to all our volunteers, Elliot from the Environment Trust, and Andy from idverde.

To get involved in our work in Manor Park just drop me a line at team@ourmanorpark.org.uk

Simeon Linstead

Chair – Friends of Manor Park