Autumn and winter maintenance and planting at Crabtree Fields

View of gravel court in park.
Vegetation around the park has been trimmed.

The Friends group and Camden’s contractor idverde have completed the first stage of the autumn and winter pruning of hedges at Crabtree Fields in readiness for planting of new trees and shrubs. The autumn trim will make it easier to sweep the hard surface areas.

The vines on the pergola have been cut back so that the structure can be seen through and inspected for maintenance and allow light to penetrate the garden as the days get shorter and darker. Some of the timbers will need to be replaced this winter.

View of paved area and lawn in park.
The vines on the pergola have been trimmed to allow views through the park.

The Friends group continue to keep many of the cuttings and create small compost and brash piles to conserve vegetation on site and provide habitat for insects. As the leaves fall over the next month these will be gathered and used as mulch around the gardens. Cuttings and deadwood are important for improving biodiversity in the park.

View of lawn and beech hedge.
The perimeter of the lawn and the beech hedge has been trimmed.

In November the Friends will begin the first stage of winter planting when we receive 30 saplings from the Woodland Trust free trees for communities scheme. We’ll be planting a mix of dog rose (Rosa canina), hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), hazel (Corylus avellana), crab apple (Malus sylvestris), and dogwood (Cornus sanguinea). We’d like to thank the Woodland Trust for providing these.

View of pergola with climbers cut back.
Climbing plants on the north side of the pergola have been cut back to allow light to pass through.

In December we will be planting another 100 saplings from The Conservation Volunteers Dig Trees’ scheme. A mix of English oak (Quercus robur), common alder (Alnus glutinosa), green beech (Fagus sylvatica), silver birch (Betula pendula), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), common dogwood (Cornus sanguinea), goat willow (Salix caprea), and dog rose (Rosa canina). We’d like to thank TCV and OVO Energy for providing these.

The Friends group have also planted a variety of seeds to produce “woodland floor” wildflowers, and have gathered then planted acorns, sloes and conkers to grow oaks, blackthorn, and horse chestnut. This should yield a variety of new growth in the spring.

View of leaves and brash piles, deadwood and mulch.
Piles of leaves and cuttings provide habitat for insects and mulch to use around base of trees and shrubs.

With this planting the Friends hope to achieve a long flowering period spread over early season (eg, blackthorn) mid season (eg, hawthorn) and late season (eg, ivy): from February to the end of October, and even a forth season of flowering from November to the end of January.

This will support a wide diversity of pollinators from March to September — the most important period on the year. This will reinforce the B-Line through London and help restore our declining populations of bees, butterflies, hoverflies and other pollinating insects.

Creating a dense series of hedgerows will also provide nesting and food for the variety of birds that inhabit the park. Many of the birds feed on insects that inhabit the shrubs and trees. Native species like oak, birch and willow each support hundreds of different insect species.

This year common species of birds sighted in the park have included: feral pigeon, wood pigeon, crow, magpie, herring gull, blackbird, dunnock, wren, blue tit, great tit, pied wagtail, robin, sparrow hawk, parakeet. After sunset there have been many sightings of the common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) bat feeding on insects above the park. A fox can often be found sleeping in the park. But please do not disturb the wildlife or feed the birds

Looking further ahead, the Friends group will be assessing how the deciduous leaf canopy of the park can be increased to provide more shade in the hotter summers we are now experiencing. The Friends will also be careful to plant drought tolerant species, although many tress and shrubs will require watering for the first year or two.

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