Farewell From The Chair

Friends of Pinner Village Gardens

Spring 2022 Newsletter

A heron spotted at the pond; April 2022

by Antonia Savvides

Antonia and the willow dome

After 6 years of being an FoPVG member and 3 years of being Chair, I am now stepping down, as I am leaving the area. I wanted to sum up the journey; it’s been busy and eventful and has taken a lot of personal time and effort, but thanks to an excellent committee and such dedicated volunteers, I am very happy to leave knowing it will continue to move forward and seeing how good it looks now.

The Friends of Pinner Village Gardens was established in 2015 and I joined as a volunteer in 2016. My first aim was to build the membership and volunteers, so I organised a volunteer recruitment event and FoPVG moved from 33 to 100 members – we now have over 200. I then took over management of the Facebook page which now has over 1000 followers.

My first major project was to save the Rose Circle, which had no seating and only 2 rose beds remaining, and the council intended to grass over completely. I weeded and mulched the beds and planted them with a little funding, but since Natalia has joined the committee, it has become a fantastic centrepiece of the park, along with the benches I helped fundraise.

The rose circle

My next major project was to fundraise for new equipment for the dilapidated children’s playground. Along with Glyn Watkins and Helen Ryan, we organised many fundraising events during the first year and applied for grants such as Tesco blue tokens and raised £16,000. Due to our efforts and commitment, the council then fundmatched and added funding, so we were able to purchase £45,000 of new equipment. We also fundraised to install the self-closing gates, these were then matched by council funding resulting in the permanent fencing. Our fundraising also paid for new picnic benches and new benches. New fruit trees were planted and I built and planted the 6 herb beds.

Glyn and I built the willow play dome and refurbished it for 3 years, however, it has been sadly repeatedly vandalised.

Glyn and I then applied for and won a £24,000 grant for a pocket park redevelopment. This was a major renovation and redevelopment project for the area surrounding the large pond. We successfully opened up the area with the installation of a new path, had the wall repointed and the seating area re-laid plus new benches added. The overgrown backdrop of bushes was cut back and 440 new plants added by Friends, Nower Hill High School, and Duke of Edinburgh volunteers.

Next was the revamp of the area termed the ‘roundabout’ under the large tree near the fitness equipment. I negotiated for 4 recycled benches (free of charge) and added planting.   

Alongside the fundraising, I have been the main organiser of events. Over the years we have had Easter Egg Hunts/Geocache events/tree sapling giveaways/new members events/pop up plant sales and 3 years of summer and music events.

I have run volunteering sessions for Duke of Edinburgh teenage volunteers on Saturdays and Sundays for over 3 years. Students complete 1 hr every week, through rain and hail, scrubbing off graffiti, repainting, moving mulch and woodchip, planting new hedges, relocating plants, weeding and helping out at events.

As Chair, a major milestone was installing a committee. It is thanks to this committee that the park has seen such amazing changes and advancements, even during lockdown. Extra special thanks must be given to Natalia Muscovy, Jonathan Freedman, Dodie Melville-Riddell and Sue Jull who have given many hours of work and professional time.

Also special thanks must go to our volunteers – Jonathan Simons, Ray Langford and Leigh Gibb, instrumental in sorting out the Drinking fountain, watering, installing a new tap, hosepipes, constructing footings for the raised bed at Compton Rise, creating bench placements and building the beautiful new walled bed by Rayners Lane entrance.

The tree planting in 2021

I brought Simon Braidman on board and thanks to him, the park has wildlife zones and Harrow Nature Heroes have run educational nature events for children and their families. Thanks to Simon and Jonathan Freedman, many new trees were added to the park.  Local people and organisations kindly sponsored new trees including the Faiths Forum for London Group, 9 dwarf apple trees from Nower Hill High school and two large oaks from the Potohar Association.

I must also personally thank volunteers Barry Gleeson who created the beautifully carved nameplates and Barry Scales who created the 9 character carved wood faces, the totem pole near the playground and the fairy tower.

I have worked to establish links with local organisations who have kindly supported us – Pinner Rotary Club, who donated crocus bulbs, Jacques Armand who donated many bulbs, the Pinner Association, MPGA who donated benches and bulbs, Pinner Lions and Harrow Heritage Trust to name a few.

My other project highlights;

  • New entrance sign at Whittington Way and relocation of entrance sign at Rayners lane entrance
  • Commissioning and fundraising for the mural near Rayners lane entrance
  • Adding and updating benches throughout the park
  • First interpretation panel and first fingerpost sign added
  • Creation of a mini-marsh area
  • Creation of a new bug zone to create more homes for insects
  • Snowdrop drift stage 3 added

One final thing I am proud to have been part of, was helping to raise the £4000 so that Glyn and the park run team could launch Junior park run – the park now hosts a junior park run every Sunday morning.

Pinner Village Gardens is a gem of a park and FoPVG do an amazing job caring for and improving it. I wish the group all the best for the future.

Stepping in as Temporary Chair

by Brian Chapman

I would like to first thank Antonia for the work she has put into the park over the course of the last six years, we have seen many fantastic improvements based on plans she championed. The amount of time and effort she dedicated will probably not be matched by many in the future.

Brian at one of the pop-up sales last year

As set out in the committee constitution, we do not have a deputy chair, with the role instead split between the Treasurer (Stephen Spiro) and myself, the Secretary. As there is only one committee meeting between now and our June AGM, I have volunteered to take on the temporary chair position for the time being. I will consider whether to stand for the position permanently over the course of the next two months, which will leave either the position of Chair or Secretary vacant as it would not be sensible to take on both roles on a permanent basis.

As for my interests and the direction of the park, I do not plan anything radical. I believe we have a great mixture of people on the committee with a wide range of interests, an absolutely brilliant group of volunteers, and a wide range of supporters in our Friends.

I am fascinated by the history of the area, I am a big champion of our ridge and furrow field and spent some time last autumn conducting research at Harrow Museum, the British Library and the London Metropolitan Archives for information for an interpretation panel for the field. I made some very interesting finds, including the original plans for the layout of the park and details of when several changes were made such as the installation of the tennis courts.

My most prominent project to date was the organisation of the calendar competition last year, which we intend to repeat in the next few months. So make sure to start taking those photos! We’ll operate it in the same way as before, with a shortlist created and then put out for a public vote.

Other Committee Changes

Many regular park visitors will be familiar with some of our regular volunteers, and so our newest committee member will be instantly recognisable to some of you. We’d like to welcome Dodie Meville-Riddell who has been co-opted onto the committee as Volunteer Coordinator until we hold the FoPVG Annual General Meeting in June.

Two students from Nower Hill High School will also be joining us for the next Committee Meeting to see if they would be interested in becoming our joint Junior Ambassadors for the forthcoming year from the AGM onwards.

If you are interested in joining the committee for our wonderful park, please do get in touch at info@pinnervillagegardens.org.uk; we currently have vacancies for a communications lead at the moment, and of course, all positions will be up for re-election at June’s AGM.

Hereford Gate Project Begins

The plan as proposed last year

You may have seen our volunteers hard at work around the Hereford Gardens entrance of the park. This is part of the current major improvement project which we’re calling Hereford Gate. This area of the park has long been one of the plainer areas, with the entrance comprising of a tarmac path, along with two strips of grass on either side.

Dodie, now our Volunteer Coordinator, proposed a plan to improve this at last year’s in person committee meeting held in the park (something we’re planning once again this year). The overall plan was to improve the soil at the site, and install new planting such as shrubs and herbaceous plants such as ferns, all while not obstructing vehicle access.

This programme will be continuing throughout the year, with assistance from our volunteers, as well as others such as the Community Payback attendees in the park.

Compton Copse Update

by Jackie Lindop

Please note I no longer refer to this as the Bluebell Project

The fact about Compton Copse is that in contrast to North Green it already delivers something that is strikingly wonderful and this is why:

A neighbour told me that he and his friends played football in the then tree-free area we now call Compton Copse. Then about 55 years ago that came to an end when the trees were planted. It was not an act of nature, but the human eye intervening with the choice of trees and how, when planting the trees, to assemble them in relation to each other.

The result is that in a limited space the trees provide an extraordinary experience of three-dimensional grandeur which one can enter and experience from multiple viewpoints. Therefore, I think this living creation, while it survives, should be left as it is.

Among the trees at Compton Copse

What might benefit this family of trees and other life forms, is to continue a focus on the improvement of the condition of the ground.

The leaves that have been delivered to Compton Copse are best left there to continue decomposing until the end of the summer when they can be spread over the ground of Compton Copse. By increasing the population of worms the ground will improve. An outstanding issue will then be whether and whereabout in Compton Copse there is sufficient light for plantlife.

At some stage, it may be worth planting selected wildflowers within Compton Copse in those areas where the ground is greened up by the germination of seeds that come in amongst the collected fallen leaves.

Meanwhile, Simon Braidman and I think planting on the fringe of Compton Copse where there is more light makes sense. I have yet to see whether the small sample of Wild Daffodil planted last Autumn will come up. If they do well enough, it would be good to place an order for more Wild Daffodils to plant this Autumn.

Bramble and Mowing Management Plans Agreed

With thanks to Simon Braidman, Dodie Melville-Riddell and Jonathan Freedman, we have created a plan called “Wilder Areas in Pinner Village Gardens”. This incorporates a number of elements, including setting out the purpose of these areas but also specifically set out the areas where there would be a reduced mowing regime, and where we will let bramble remain.

You might be asking why we would allow bramble to remain in our park. They provide a food source for many native species including honey bees and bumblebees, caterpillars and butterflies. The bramble tangles provide shelter and allow for space for nesting birds to be left undisturbed. Old bramble is of particular value to solitary insects, such as bees. But bramble will outcompete other plant life, so it remains vital to keep it under close control and with this new plan, our volunteers have a clear guide as to where to limit bramble growth. Recent work has reduced the volume of bramble in the park by a third, and the plan now sets out to keep it at that level going forward.

Areas with reduced mowing shown in blue

One project on which we have received more comments than any other has been the mowing regime tested out during lockdown in 2020, which when coupled with the council cutting back on such services during the height of Covid meant that more areas of the park we re-wilded than we had originally planned for. The new mowing regime sets out the areas which will be removed from the usual council mowing which takes place every three weeks, and what limits will be set upon those areas. In addition, further detail is given to the area around the pond, which will not be mowed during the growing season but our volunteers will cut back any over-tall growth. One of the interesting discoveries we made as a result of the change in the mowing regime was the growth of Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis), which harks back to Pinner Village Gardens’ prior life as part of a wide stretch of open meadow which reached all the way between Pinner and Harrow.

Also set out is the detailed plan for rose circle east (marked 9 in the map) in which we plan to enhance as a wildflower meadow. The remaining areas of the rose circle will be mowed as normal, and we hope that the contrast between the cultivated nature of the rose circle itself and the adjacent wildflower area will be enjoyed by visitors and encourage pollinating insects to help the park thrive.

FoPVG Annual General Meeting 2022

The Friends of Pinner Village Gardens Annual General Meeting is coming up once again in June, and we will be finalising details of this at our May committee meeting next month before sending out information to all members.

If you are interested in standing for a committee position and would like to discuss it, or even sit in on the May meeting to see what it would be like, please do get in touch with us at info@pinnervillagegardens.org.uk.

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