World events may be getting you down, but perhaps we can cheer you up a bit by saying that the Park, and the Friends, have had a good year overall. At our AGM, we looked back at 2016, and noted some highlights:
- Very Young Friends have had a strong year, with an enormous turn-out for the Easter Egg Hunt, and a typical monthly turn-out 15 to 30 people. Sessions delivered have a range of entertaining but educational themes, including those led by the Bat Group and BugLife.
- The Birthday Party was very well attended, with large numbers of stalls, and only a few issues, one of which was toilets (portaloos will be booked, next year), parking (inevitably) and the need for more volunteers; many thanks to Christina who was the force behind another terrific success.
- Voluntary gardening sessions have been well-attended and well-received; Rosemary is now co-ordinating this. Emma had organised a plant sale in May, which raised our profile.
- Ruth has been supervising the bird food project, with good sales of food packets from the café. Christine has delivered a bird-related talk to Knavesmire School children, and laminated signs have gone up in the play area.
- The Friends sponsored a very popular yarnstorming project, by Hippystitch, with workshops resulting in a beautiful ‘Fantasy Fish’ installation in the park.
- Lara McClure organised two clothes swaps, in the Cafe.
- Friends’ membership numbers had gone up, possibly partly as a result of the 10% Friends’ discount at the Café; the Friends thanked Mel for suggesting and supporting the discount.
- Dave Meigh (CYC) reported that there had been a lot of running repairs recently (eg repointing, refurbishment of basketball court and the pergola). Committee members had met with Dave for a site visit/walkaround.
At the time of the AGM, the Friends were looking forward to the bulb planting event (October halfterm), and willow weaving (December), both of which were also very well-attended, and successful. We have also recently sited bird feeders and hedgehog homes in the Park.
So, if you would like to help us continue with our work into 2017, please consider getting a FRP membership (what a lovely Christmas gift?). If you would like to help with our activities (maybe to help with the gardening?), why not get in touch by email, or follow us (Friends and Very Young Friends) on Facebook.
All the best for the festive season, and for 2017
Friends of Rowntree Park
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/