Make the most of your Local Park

Discover some of the inspiring things that Londoners are doing to make the most of one of the city's great parks and then check out our other ways to enjoy the National Park City.

 

Make where you live wilder

What if we made where we live wilder? Watch our film of Londoners rewilding London wherever and however they can. What if even more created great little nature reserves for the city's wildlife?

 

Start thinking more naturally at school

Could your school do more outdoor learning? For ideas watch this video featuring children and adults of Christ Church Primary School, Brixton and Natural Thinkers ... and plenty of mud!

 

Enjoy London's Waterways

Go out and enjoy London's waterways. Watch our film and find out about some of the great things that Londoners are doing to make the most of the capital's beautiful waterways.

Use your imagination for Our City London

Are you a student or do you run a course? Might you be able to produce something which tells your own personal story of London as National Park City?

The National Film and Television's, Motion Graphics and Titles students made a set of films to promote their ideas of London as a National Park City.

 

 

Watch more of the student's films over in our Make A Difference section.

If you are a student and interested in creating something for London as a National Park City then let your imagination fly! We'd love to see and hear your ideas. Have fun with the brand, present a different view of London's wildness, green and blue and how anyone can Make A Difference. Share you're ideas with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - we'd love to hear them!

I`m a great believer in the benefits of engaging with nature and its so easy as it is all around us. Bringing birds in closer proximity to ourselves by providing bird feeders on our balconies, in our backyards or gardens is one of the simplest and most affordable methods of being close to nature. Indeed you don`t have to even leave your home, just look out the window! If you live in a communal environment think about having a communal feeder or placing one in your local green area.

Feeding birds in London accelerated into being a common activity at the end of the 19th century when the city experienced a spate of severe winters. It was unfortunately a frequent experience to see birds that had succumbed to the severe cold and the sharing of bread became a regular pastime in London`s parks and on the London Bridges.

Now our winters are much milder and feeding birds is more about our enjoyment and engagement with nature rather than bird survival. Foods for wild birds have become more sophisticated and healthier than crumbs from our stale loaves. Here`s some top tips to get involved with bird feeding:

1. FOOD

Nuts and seeds are the most popular form of food for feeders. Start off with peanuts and /or black sunflower seed avoiding anything that is salted. Fat balls are another form of food particularly favoured by many species and consider using bruised fruit to attract blackbirds and thrushes. Remember avoid bread being the only food source.

2. DON`T FORGET THE WATER

It may sound simple but often we forget to have a supply of water for them. This does not have to be an expensive bird bath, a simple container on the ground / in the borders will suffice or a saucer on the balcony.

3. YOUR PETS

If you own a cat, a little bell round the collar is often sufficient warning for birds that a predator is near. However when chicks become fledglings they are particularly vulnerable. They are not as nimble and fleet footed as their parents, so take extra care if you know that nests are present close to your feeders.

4. HYGIENE

Clean the feeders once a month by soaking in boiling water. Birds can be affected particularly by salmonella and canker from other bird`s faeces.

5. GET A BOOK

Now you are seeing more birds, identify them, get to know more about their habits and how you may attract other species. Watching the birds can be mesmeric, magical and therapeutic; don`t be surprised if you switch off and be transported into another world, good luck!

Take part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch which is every year at end of January. In 2019 it is 26 - 28 January.

 

Getting started may be a challenge but walking - even in a city! - provides a great opportunity to connect with nature and boost your health and happiness. Walking every day, and taking a photo on every walk can be great motivators and help you notice something new every day.

I have always lived in the London Borough of Bromley and have vivid childhood memories of Sunday afternoon walks in local woods and parks. I recently revisited the farmland around St Johns Church, West Wickham, which was my favourite walk, with stiles and kiss-gates and lovely views – all still there.

It was a combination of two unrelated events five years ago – my retirement from work and a diagnosis of MS – which really focussed my mind. I immediately decided my strategy would be to walk every day, and what better way than to combine this with discovering (or rediscovering) the open spaces near to where I lived. It became important to me to keep a record of the scenery and wildlife and so, with the ease of my iPad, I began to take pictures and post them on Twitter. I was very surprised and flattered to find that other people enjoyed these pictures, so I continued. Now, five years on, it’s become a pleasant obsession.

I assumed South Norwood Country Park was still a sewage works until I took the trouble to go and visit! It’s now an important - and very beautiful - nature reserve. Closest station: Elmers End.

My daily walks have made me more aware of nature and wildlife, kept my mind and body active and improved my physical and mental wellbeing. I’ve also made some new ‘park’ friends. If I’m feeling anxious or down I go to my favourite local park – Kelsey Park in Beckenham – and sit quietly with the Egyptian duck family or watch the steely stillness of a heron.

I find it very interesting to follow a species life-cycle in a particular park, watching the cygnets, ducklings and goslings grow up and have families of their own – and recognising them from one year to the next! Getting down to their level can produce some interesting shots. I now notice small things: even a bee or a dandelion puffball can fascinate me for ages! If nothing seems interesting ahead, I just look closer – or up – or down, there’s usually something to inspire.

I’ve discovered a variety of different parks. One day last year the view from my window across the Ravensbourne Valley inspired me to find the source of the River Ravensbourne. This took me to Keston Ponds, a beautiful place I had not visited since childhood. In the other direction the river flows through Beckenham Place Park, a huge area of parkland and ancient woodland. Walking with my friend’s dog, Rosie, introduced me to locations in the Chislehurst area – Hawkwood Estate and the beautiful Scadbury Park Nature Reserve are favourites (Rosie likes to jump in the ponds and rivers) – also Elmstead Wood and Petts Wood for shorter walks. (Kelsey Park and Beckenham Place Park can be reached from Beckenham Junction station, just 25 minutes by train from Victoria. The Hawkwood Estate and Petts Wood sit next to Chislehurst station.)

I’m interested in the way the weather affects nature and wildlife. One rainy day, walking between two parks, I noticed an interesting leaf on the rainy pavement. I was very surprised and delighted when BBC London used the picture for a weather bulletin! I’ve since had several park pictures used. I’m only an amateur and only use my iPad, but I do take care with composition.

Barbara's photos and daily walks can be found on Twitter at @skylark22BHC1

barbara fowlds 1 Rediscovering a favourite walk - 55 years later and still a lovely view. Wickham Court Farm, West Wickham.

barbara fowlds 4I never noticed so many bees on this shrub before.

Finding new ways of depicting rain can be an interesting challenge; but walking in the rain is always fun!Finding new ways of depicting rain can be an interesting challenge; but walking in the rain is always fun!

When you need a cheer-up-heron, one magically appears. When you need a cheer-up-heron, one magically appears.

barbara fowlds 5Just go where the path, or perhaps the dog, takes you. Here through the Hawkwood Estate in Chislehurst.

Making seed balls is very simple and a great activity enjoyed by young and old.  

Seed Ball Recipe

  • 2 parts soil. Do not use good quality soil, wildflowers have evolved over millennia to adapt and grow best in poor quality soil.
  • 5 parts clay mix, (as London is built on clay it is easy to find!)
  • 1-2 parts water
  • 1-2 parts seeds
  • Large tub to mix ingredients

Directions

  1. Mix the soil, clay and 1 part water thoroughly. There should be no lumps. Slowly add more water until the mixture is the consistency of bread dough
  2. Add seeds. But not too many!
  3. Keep kneading the dough until the seeds are well mixed in.
  4. Add more water if necessary.
  5. Take small bits of the clay mixture and roll into balls about one inch in diameter.
  6. The balls should hold together easily. If they’re crumbly, add more water.

Have a great day!

Also useful

Bowl of water to rinse hands and towel to dry hands with

We always have some vinyl gloves for those who do not want to get their hands dirty.

Tips for Community Seed Ball Making

To source your wildflower seeds the simplest approach is to buy a wildflower mix. To offer more choice and to get the chance to explain the important of  these flowers for pollinators you can buy a variety of seeds and offer them in small bowls for people to choose their mix or single type, a photo of the flower helps for those who do not know flower names. We believe it  is important to only sow native wildflowers and made sure all our supplies were following the Flora Locale & Plantlife’s Code of Practice. They provide a list of suppliers.  

It is important to explain to those making the seed balls that not many seeds are needed, kids tend to way overload and grab a fistful of soil mix making a tennis ball size which is far too big, explain that too many will not grow as they all need space. 

It's a good idea to make a few ahead, to show the finished product and correct size. Often people will try and make their seed balls too large.

We have found it easier to make up a few containers of the soil mix, and have the seeds in a small container to top up when empty. 

We have a table: soil at one end, people take a small bit, roll it in their hands then flatten it, choose and scatter seeds over flattened mix then roll it all together.  

Supply small paper envelopes/bags brown paper which the care instructions can be written, and if you offer a selection of seeds they add the names of the ones they have selected. 

Using your Seed Balls

We generally ask people to plant some in a designated area at the event, and to take some home. 

One project we've seen prepared a low bank and then encouraged people to throw their seed balls at the bank. Other ideas include scattering the seedballs in patterns.

Tell your seed ball makers to just drop the balls in an place where there is no grass to compete and loosen up the surface of the area, a fork works well, if weather is dry sprinkle them with water, keep an eye on them and water every 10 days if no rain happens.

Seed balls are much more successful where the soil has been prepared as if for normal seed sowing or in pots. 

You can read more about different ways to use seed balls on our Wildflowers For Londoners project

Please Respect London’s Existing Natural Communities

#WildflowersForLondoners seed balls are to be used to bring colour, beauty and wildlife to all our streets, balconies, gardens, schools, workplaces and shared spaces that make up London.

They are not to be used in or near where wild plants and flowers are already established. They should not be used within or near a nature reserve, a Royal Park, open countryside, or any protected areas. Derelict-looking "brownfield" sites can host important insects and wildlife which have found sanctuary from development elsewhere. These communities may be unique, and we should leave them alone & celebrate them. If in any doubt, then please find another location.

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You’re different. You’re amazing. You see London as a National Park. This is your opportunity to share the love.

Most people don’t see the nature around them, don’t connect with it. They don’t benefit from the health and happiness that understanding about and immersion in, what’s around them, can bring

Take trees ….

Surveys have shown that 80% of people don’t recognise an ash tree and 70% of people can’t identify the trees on their street.

You’re different. You’re amazing. You don’t see the green wallpaper other people see. You can actually separate the trees from the wood. You can actually identify (some) trees!

But there’s something else going on:

Try this experiment: Next time you’re walking along your street, ask someone coming out of their house what the tree outside their house is. You’ll be amazed that when people say they don’t know (as they usually do) they nearly always add – ‘I’d really like to know.’

So here’s the thing:

There IS something you can do.

Take someone, a stranger even, to a tree you love, identify it, tell them about it and encourage them to take a closer look at it. You’ll be surprised at how happy sharing tree knowledge makes you – they’ll be surprised at how happy knowing about trees makes them.

… and with tree knowledge comes tree love.

Once we know and understand something we start to care about it

and when we care about it we start to look after it better

As we become tree champions we might start

  • watering young trees
  • looking out for pests and diseases
  • reporting damage
  • removing ties and stakes from young trees appropriately

Creating a local TiCL App tree trail is a simple way of pointing out, identifying and educating people about local trees. You don’t have to be a tree expert to create a tree trail. The trees on your street or in your local park are a good place to start – and yes – even you might have to mug up a bit!


As people look at your tree trail you will find that local interest and respect for trees increases. As well as connecting with trees physically they will connect with you and with each other virtually. With respect for the local trees comes love and respect for locality – you might notice less antisocial behaviour, less litter, more positive interactions with the neighbours …

and when we’re caring for ‘our’ environment and respecting each other more locally, we won’t have to worry so much about the world

and you’ll know that just by sharing your tree love

you did that – you’re amazing!

www.ticl.me

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