This is a community website for the Friends (and others) of The Lambeth Walk Open Space. The Friends welcome new members whatever their financial or residence status, but local people who use, look at or enjoy our park regularly will get most out of our organisation. Anyone who would like to contribute to the Friends or this blog, please get in touch via the email link (at right, below). We are currently spending nearly £200,000 on the important basics like fence, hedge, play area and path works

Monday, March 29, 2004

Phew . . . as much fun as they always are, getting one of the FoLWOS Open Days together is quite a project, and when the weather dawned on Saturday with cloud cover down to about 150m it looked like we might be in for a long, damp and grey day. It stayed grey, but the spring rain was kind and stayed away almost all day.

Tony the marquee man showed up at 10.00 with his team - pretty soon after Adam Thomas (our landscape architect / consultant) and I had finished re-marking out with spray paint (sic) the new seating area to come, some huge question marks to stimulate ideas and interest, and two possible outlines (of different diameters) for the dog-mess-free area for our little kids we'll be constructing later this year.

I also got the chance to personally thank the Team Lambeth parks worker who, despite several breakdowns for his FIDO vacuum machine during the week, had managed to poop-scoop the park again that morning for a second time.

Then it was all hands on deck as FoLWOS chair Diana, Jane, Adam and I got on with dressing the marquee with display boards, posters, t-shirts and leaflets etc we wanted people to see or take home, and stacked the guard rails and so on ready for the bouncy castles to arrive - which they did in good time and Sean managed to set up and pump up by 12.00 noon as we'd arranged.

Natasha, one of our outreach artists arrived too. She was carrying several bags full of what looked like very colourful seed packets . . . which is almost exactly what they were!

In fact we have two teams of local artists working with the DG project at the moment, spending 10 weeks in primary classrooms surrounding or near the park and in the Ethelred youth club stimulating local children's ideas about ways to value and protect a park, and particularly how to keep dog-mess away from areas used a lot by young kids . . .

The simplest way would be just not to let dogs anywhere near the park at all, but after twenty years of locals using the park grass as their dog-toilet because they have nowhere else to go, it doesn't seem either fair or sensible to ban both dogs and mess from the whole park straight away. And since previously there were no bins of any sort, you really can't exactly blame dog-owners for not using one!

What we hope for the future is that gradually the dog-walkers will see the light and bring along a plastic bag to collect their animal's mess in once it has done the deed, and then just walk a short distance to the new bins we've put in for the purpose.

Human nature being what it is, though, we also figure that gentle regular reminders from other park users who do see the connection between healthy play, healthy kids and no dogmess (plus the introduction of several more bins over this year through the DG) will make a big difference to local habits and a rather better appreciation of the need for all sections of our community to share the park as a community resource.

But rather then just trust to luck and good nature, we also thought that getting local kids to speak up about what they think about the mess, and how to tackle it, was a more positive step.

So Natasha and her colleague Jo have been working in Walnut Tree Walk Primary School stimulating and helping their kids to make a kind of seed packet with a picture of an anti-poo idea on the front, and some words about the idea - just like a seed packet - written on the back.

My favourite from yesterday was the "cool dog" idea: Get a "cool" dog to sit somewhere on the park far away from the designated kids' area, and all the other dogs will want to go and play there with the cool dog instead!

I will try to get a better pic or two of the dozens of beauties our kids have come with already and post them up soon here as well.

Meanwhile, back at the marquee . . . .

Hugo (our other park consultant - what luxury, eh?) arrived to help set up the new display boards describing and illustrating the detailed DG plans and outlining the work we have done so far, while Lambeth parks officers Boulton and Polyzoides took their turns corralling the kids into the right bouncy castle for their size or discussing the DG's progress with Adam, Hugo and the adults who were starting to roll up already.

I guess it is pretty obvious (and smacks a little of the Jesuits' precepts), but "Get 'em young . . . " has been a focus for FoLWOS since we started the DG project, and we aim to keep on keeping on at kids' level as well.

Food arrived in the shape of sandwiches from the Madeira Star cafe just down Kennington Road (past the Cross), drinks and water from Sparrows off-licence on the corner of Wincot St (right opposite the park).

Plus we had home-made piping hot pizzas fresh from the Casa Pizza next door (my thanks to Ahmet for the second FoLWOS Open Day running for firing up the ovens early again, just for us). We managed to serve up 30 eight-slice pizzas in two hours so something was just right for a rawish Spring day!

By now the display boards and the people's questions were getting more attention than the bouncy castles, and both local Prince's Ward councillor Charles Anglin (Lib-Dem), who is the new overall chair of the DG Steering Group and local Member of Parliament Kate Hoey (Lab), turned up to enjoy the day and see what locals thought of all the fuss, as did Bishop's ward councillors, the Parrys.

Judy and Kay - our art workers in the Ethelred Youth Club - arrived too with a banner made by the kids at the Club.

Arrayed right next to the banner were a selection of specially customised t-shirts they had designed for themselves around a "how can we make a visual representation of the idea of protecting our park?" theme. A couple of the images are here now, and with luck I'll be able to put them all up soon as well, with the appropriate credits to the creators too.

Charles and Kate were joined for a suitably cheesy photo-op by Ethelred Youth Club stalwart Fred Peters, standing proudly over one (ok, two) of our new Doorstep Green dog-mess and litter bins.

And soon enough along came Zak the charming, friendly but unarguably miniature pony from the Stables where he lives, just across Fitzalan Street . . .

Meanwhile 2: Behind the marquee, Martha, Patricia and Linda were going great guns at potting on the 100 or so Purple Beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea Pendula' for the gardeners among us) "whips" or year-old saplings we bought from the Secret Garden nursery with the help of Sure Start Kennington and Roots & Shoots. The Purple Beech (thought to originate in Switzerland) has been cultivated in Britain since at least 1760, and occurs only in the Northern hemisphere.

Many of the kids lent a hand or two, and the babies seemed to like getting their hands properly dirty a fair bit more than most!

When we erect the new perimeter fence we'll need literally thousands more saplings, but this first 100 are a particularly beautiful shade of deepest red, almost claret, and we plan to dot them among the more common or garden copper beech whips to make up the bulk of the hedge that will line the inside of the new fence. This beech only grows to about 3m high, so we can prune them with all the rest of the hedge (around 1m) to provide splashes of extra colour, or allow some trees to grow taller for the same sort of effect.

They should make a very brave show for almost all the year round, as well as neatening-up the park perimeter, reducing problems with traffic using the park as a turning head and making the whole place look a bit more the thing. . . .

ian nicolson,
FoLWOS membership secretary

Friday, March 26, 2004

Ahhh, double litter and dog-mess bins . . .
We planted those too yesterday with Earth Anchors (who supplied them and moved the earth to get them in before the Open Day, for which many thanks, EA!).

There are half a dozen more to come later in the year in the Doorstep Green proper but these come courtesy of Greening Vauxhall's park improvement funds, and when I popped by this morning to see if the rain had washed 'em away or whatever they were already being used and even admired. Result!

See you at the Open Day tomorrow?

Ian Nicolson, FoLWOS Membership Secretary

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Ahhh, Spring . . . when most green things start getting a real move on.

We planted our first item bigger than a daffodil bulb yesterday, a 4 metre high and gorgeous heavy standard Prunus avium 'Plena' , while light spring showers gave the ground a decent soaking in greeting, and the other preparations for Saturday's Open Day took shape around us.

Leader of the Council (Lambeth) Peter Truesdale - who is also our local member - braved the wind and showers to join Fred Russell and his team from Trees for London, plus our Greening Vauxhall officer K. Polyzoides (GV helped pay for the tree), FoLWOS members and our landscape architect Adam Thomas to make the first practical difference to the Park.

The tree, already in bud and just itching to make some serious blossom, was selected for its form and beauty, but also for size and robustness. Like much open space planting, especially when surrounded by schools, smaller trees tend to suffer terminal damage from passers by rather too easily, so we're hoping that a considerable investement - around £400 - will pay off in longevity as well as beauty.

We also spent some time spraying the grass of our park with lines of white paint (sounds mad I know but the paint washes off soon enough and is non-toxic) to show where seating and the children's dog mess free area, litter bins and steps will be going later this year, and to begin to suggest some of the issues we need more feedback from locals on - starting at the Open Day this Saturday.

ian nicolson

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Among the delights on offer at the Open Day on March 27 (and after) are these designer (tee hee) t-shirts proudly announcing your contribution to the Doorstep Green - it could be a donation of time, skill, money or support - or available to buy through our email address (see links top right). We'll settle prices on the weekend, but somewhere around £10 for kids (ages 2-3, 4-5, 6-7) and £14.00 for adults (s, m, l and xl) looks likely. We'll be awarding some as prizes at the Open Day as well, and to local kids coming up with crackin' art and logo etc ideas through our Greening Vauxhall-funded art in schools programme (which is happening in the Ethelred Youth Club and Walnut Tree Walk school right now).

We'll also be celebrating the beginning of Doorstep Green year one with a brand new ornamental cherry (being planted by the Leader of the Council, Peter Truesdale - our longest standing local councillor as well) and four chronically needed dog-mess and litter bins from Earth Anchors, several new and improved park lights from Urbis, new park signs from Signology, and lots of preparation work for the new children's area, public seating, fencing, hedging and planting.

And we've got membership cards too for people who would like to join us as members of FoLWOS.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Do you like parks, plants, gardening or just getting out in the open air? Well, whatever your level of skill or experience, the Lambeth Walk Doorstep Green is looking for helpers as we crack on to make our park a better place for locals to enjoy.

There’ll be lots of opportunities for children and adults of all ages and gardening abilities to help with the planting and preparation over the summer and autumn of this year (2004), so why not contact the Friends and see if there is something is happening you’d enjoy working on too?

PO Box 43419, London, SE11 6WU or email friendsof.lwos@which.net

Or come along to our Open Day on SATURDAY MARCH 27th between 12 and 4.00 on the Open Space and see the plans for the Doorstep Green and tell us what
you think. Also featuring TWO Bouncy Castles (one just for very little ‘uns) plus face-painting, henna tattoos and a big marquee for the plans, displays, food and refreshments.

The Friends of Lambeth Walk Open Space
PO Box 43419, London, SE11 6WU


Between now and our first 2004 Doorstep Green Open Day (2pm- 4pm, Saturday, March 27, on the Space) we are looking for local people to help the Doorstep Green project really take off.

We’ve already found most of the money we need, hired the landscape architects to manage the project and started organising new fences, paths, planting, lights, signs and dog waste or litter bins.

The really heavy work will be done by contractors in October / November this year, but there’s lots and lots of hedge, bulb or tree planting, wildflower sowing, pruning and creative work that really needs local people’s help as well.

We’ll be offering training and support to people who would like to volunteer, and plenty of art or design activities for our local children too. So if you would like to get involved, get in touch with FoLWOS – or come to the Open Day and see what the future holds!

The Lambeth Walk Doorstep Green is a partnership between Lambeth Parks and the Friends of Lambeth Walk Open Space (FoLWOS). It wasn't always that way, as most of you already know (see previous posts).

In late 2003, after six months of planning and intensive consultation with local people and the social organisations that surround our park (supported by the Countryside Agency's Doorstep Green initiative and Greening Vauxhall), FoLWOS briefed landscape architects Nowell/Thomas to draft solutions to the most urgent shortcomings of our park identified through our consultations:

So during 2004 we will be spending the £160,000 or so we have raised so far on improvements designed to fix these specific urgent problems. But like all strong,
living projects, these changes are only the first steps toward meeting an even greater challenge – returning our park to the centre of our local community, which is where it belongs.

We hope the structural improvements – new paths, new lights, new fence / beech hedge boundary treatment, a dog-mess-free kids play area, new planting, signs, seats, litter bins and so on are just the beginning of a process that encourages local adults (whatever their age or physical ability), and especially local children, to see their local park as a good place to play, to rest, or just to enjoy a little bit of nature and being out-of-doors. Not just as a huge patch of not very nice grass and some useful paths on the shortest route to the bus stop. To that end we are applying for significant additional funding to dramatically increase provision for active use of the park by all the groups the park is here for, from our seniors to our very youngest.

If you would like to help FoLWOS put in place the changes that you can see are on the way, please get in touch, join our group or make a donation of your time, energy, ideas or cash.

And if you have ideas about more improvements you would like to see in the future, do let us know what you think. The Lambeth Walk Doorstep Green is here for 25 years at least. That's plenty of time to make our local park an even better place to live close to.

Ian Nicolson

Membership Secretary,
The Friends of Lambeth Walk Open Space
PO Box 43419, London, SE11 6WU


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