Five years ago, the Friends had just finished creating the wildlife pond, in Butcher Terrace Field; we’re delighted to be able to say that the pond has attracted a lot of frogs, dragonflies, water snails, water boatmen – and plenty of human visitors!
Around the same time, we also planted some apple trees, along the edge of the Field, and these have been quietly getting on with growing and fruiting. They now need a bit of attention, and we would like to give them a winter prune soon; any offers of help with this?
The apple trees have some interesting names. These are (from north to south): Discovery, Rajka, Annie Elizabeth, Ingrid Marie, Bramley Clone, Chivers’ Delight, Sunset, Grenadier, Ribston Pippin, Warner’s King, Greensleeves, Balsam.
We had a lovely time at our October meet up for Very Young Friends playing with leaves. Sadly not enough leaves had fallen for us to make a giant leaf pile for jumping in but we still had fun looking for leaves and autumn colours on our leaf treasure hunt. We also really enjoyed making autumn crowns by weaving willow branches into a ring and tucking leaves and other lovely finds into them.
However, some of us – my very own very young friend especially – remembered that willow is good for lots of things and began making new adventures. Willow lends itself to outdoor play very well because its so flexible and there are usually lots of long lengths of it under the trees (called whips). You can twist it, wave it, tie it and anything else you can think of. These are some of our favourite things to play with willow:
- Hours have gone by while my little explorers have dipped long lengths of willow in and out of the lake attempting to catch fish. Unsurprisingly they’ve never caught one but it doesn’t seem to deter them!
- Scooter modifications. Take a piece of willow, tie it to a scooter and voila! A go-faster leaver. A teddy bear holder. Use it to tie sticks on for extra features, maybe breaks or booster buttons. And if you run out of power, a hanging willow branch makes for a excellent petrol pump.
- Weave more crowns like we did, or bracelets, or mini Christmas wreaths. Make a stick frame and weave a picture. Use other nature treasures to decorate them, maybe some coloured leaves or pine cones.
- Some of those willow whips are really long. If you find a nice flexible one (and you’re not very big!) you can use it as a skipping rope.
- Waving. The ultimate in entertainment if you’re a toddler. Grab a willow whip. Wave it about. Job done
Have a go next time you’re in the park. Remember to only take willow from the ground and keep the trees healthy.
Next month we’ll be thinking about hibernation and getting ready for winter. Come along to find out about the sleepy animals in the park and make some lovely hedgehogs to take home. Join us on 3rd November at 11.30 by the log circle in the woods.
Christine Potter and the Very Young Friends
Pssssst. If you like making things with willow look out for a special December event for all ages where you can make your own Christmas wreaths. Saturday 3rd Dec, 10-12. £5 per wreath.
Everyone is welcome to the Friends’ AGM. Come and let us know your thoughts for the next year … 7pm at the Reading Cafe. Entrance via Richardson St. If you are running late, after 7pm, ring 551489 for entry.
Guest post from York Urban Buzz:
York Urban Buzz is taking York by storm, making the most of the city’s untapped potential for bee-friendly parks and gardens. Soon Rowntree Park and along the river by Millennium Bridge will be bursting with even more flowers, buzzing with bees, butterflies and many other pollinating insects. If you look carefully, you might also spot some bees relaxing in their boutique bee hotel.
We have specifically chosen these sites to be flagship ‘Buzzing Hotspots’. Over the summers to come, there should be a riot of colour, making it a more vibrant and inspiring place to be. The new developments will provide vital new food and nesting places for our pollinators, so that they will be happy and healthy – just like the spaces are loved and used by local people (at the centre of this project is making our parks and gardens better and more enjoyable for us too). Work at Millennium Bridge has already started with wild flowers being planted with the fantastic help of local people and plans are being made for Rowntree Park.
As well as being very good news for us, this is good news for our buzzing buddies too. They have been having a really tough time lately and some species of bumblebee have even gone extinct. What a lot of people just don’t realise is that we depend on insect pollination for much of our food and that around 80% of wildflowers rely on pollination. So, without our buzzing buddies, butterflies and other pollinators our food would be boring and our parks and gardens dull.
So, over the summer when you’re enjoying your strawberries and cream tea, take a minute to thank our tiny pollinators busily buzzing about their day!
Great prizes to be won, for a creative portrait taken in the Park. Entries for the ‘Best Selfie’ category, or for a portrait by a photographer aged 0-6, 7-15 or 16 and over. Closing date is 10th July. More details here: https://www.formpl.us/form/5709683924926464/
Everyone is invited to a plant sale at Rowntree Park, on Saturday May 7th. It will run from 11am to 2pm, and will be located close to the Reading Cafe – look out for our tent! There will be seeds for children to plant (free for members of the Friends). There will be plenty of plants, covering a range of interests, provided by Brunswick Organic Nursery.