Friends of Oxleas Woodlands

Oxleas Meadow, showing the cafe and the water tower
Oxleas Meadow, showing the cafe and the water tower

Bat walks, local history walks, rose garden restoration, woodland conservation and litter picking: the Friends of Oxleas Woodlands have been very active since their formation at the end of last year. Sue, the Friends’ secretary, wrote with an update:

As you know we have had a couple of Bat walks and Houses in the woods walk; which we are planning to offer again, weather permitting. We also have our regular activities, the litter collection once a month; the Saturday and new weekday conservation sessions with the Shooters Hill Woodland working group and a new gardening project to re-establish the rose gardens at Jackwood and Castle woods. I have attached a poster about this project including the dates of forthcoming gardening sessions.
Our activities have been developed in response to our members’ requests and we are really fortunate to have knowledgeable members who have been able to lead walks and deliver interesting talks on a range of subjects.
Up until now we have been able to open up all our activities to non members as well as members but with our large and growing membership (currently we have 92 members), we are needing to prioritise some activities such as the Walks to members (their friends/families) only. So far, we have not had to turn people away; we have just had to repeat the walks! Needless to say, we are always grateful for volunteers to work with us on the regular gardening, litter collection and conservation activities.

Friends of Oxleas Woodlands Rose Garden poster

The poster reads:

A massive thank you to all the volunteers who were able to help at short notice with clearing the rose beds at Jackwood Terrace (above). It took a total of 30 man & woman hours to weed the beds.
We have confirmation from the Council that they will add mulch when time allows, but volunteers may be needed to help with spreading.
Parks & Open Spaces did remove the roses from the Severndroog beds (below) with the intention of replacing them with wildflowers. They have now given permission for FOW to replace the roses in the autumn if funding can be secured. We have requested further information on sponsorship permission.
Whilst funding is secured for replacement roses (best planted in the autumn) we are looking for volunteers to help weed and prepare the Severndroog beds during August and September.
We will use this as an experiment to see what days and dates suit different people so please do let suereeve@virginmedia.com know when you can join us (see purple box above).
PS. We will offer to find a good use for the wildflower seeds too.

Bluebells in Oxleas Wood
Bluebells in Oxleas Wood

The next event that the Friends have planned is this Sunday, 14th October, when the Friends’ Chair Tom Wareham will lead  a repeat of the Houses in the Woods walk. This twilight wander through the woods visits the sites of some of the great houses that used to stand in the woodlands: Castle House; Castlewood; Jackwood; Wood Lodge; Warren Wood and Falconwood. Each participant on the walk is loaned an A4 folder with pictures of the houses before they were demolished. As the appropriate points on the walk it is possible to hold the pictures up against the current scenery and see where the houses stood. What a great way of presenting local history! The stories about the houses and gossip about their occupants are fascinating.

It’s very likely that Sunday’s walk is already fully booked, but contact Sue on suereeve@virginmedia.com if you’re interested.

The next dates for other planned Friends’ activities are:

Litter collection                            Saturday 27th October 10am – 12pm
Shooters Hill Working Party Saturday 13th October 10am, Friday 19th October 10am – 3pm
Rose beds & bulbs                      Sunday 4th November 10am-12pm,  Friday 9th November 2pm-4pm

Again, contact Sue for more information. The next members’ meeting is planned for 7.30pm on Tuesday 4th December in Shrewsbury House.

Path in Oxleas Woods
Path in Oxleas Woods
Detail of water feature on Jackwood Terrace
Detail of water feature on Jackwood Terrace

Apple Day and other October Events at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Apple Day poster

October is a busy month at Woodlands Farm with Apple Day on Sunday, an autumnal walk on 21st and events for children in half-term week which includes a spooky Halloween trailer ride.

Maureen sent me details of the annual Apple Day event:

Join us for a celebration of British apples on Sunday 14 October 2018 from 11am to 4pm. Discover and buy different types of traditional British apples. There will be live music by Skinners Rats, a variety of activities including: tractor and trailer rides (weather permitting), children’s craft fun, a treasure hunt, apple-pressing to make delicious juice, craft and local produce stalls (including our own honey, homemade jams, BBQ) and an opportunity to try some delicious Kentish cider. A great day out for all the family. Entry is £1 adult, and 50p for children. All proceeds go towards keeping Woodlands Farm here as a conservation project and valuable resource for the community. A great family day out!

An opportunity to stock up on the less well-known varieties of apple that supermarkets don’t seem to stock these days, and possibly even a rare Pitmaston Pineapple.

Apples at Woodlands Farm
Apples at Woodlands Farm
Apples at Woodlands Farm
Apples at Woodlands Farm

The following week, on Sunday 21st October, there is the Farm in Autumn Guided Walk starting at  11:00am and lasting about an hour and a half. We are asked to wear suitable shoes for muddy conditions. This walk isn’t suitable for buggies.

Hannah, the Farm’s Education Officer wrote about Woodlands’ half-term events for children:

Autumn Half Term Holiday Activities
Autumn Wildlife Explorers Wednesday 24th October 11am – 3pm £3 per child.
This farm explorer’s session will be about autumn at the farm. Find out about what happens during autumn at the farm as well as about the different wildlife which hibernates and what work we do on the hedgerows in autumn, there will also be an autumn scavenger hunt.
This is the last in a series of farm explorer’s sessions throughout the year. Pick up your farm passport to collect stamps for each farm explorer’s session you attend. Collect as many as you can throughout the year to get a certificate and prize! £3 per child. No need to book, just drop in. More information call 020 8319 8900.
Horrible Halloween – craft and spooky Tractor/Trailer ride Friday 26th October Sessions from 2-4pm and 6-8pm £5 per person
Join us for a spooky time at the farm. Make a spooky craft before enjoying a creepy tractor and trailer ride around the farm, but be careful you don’t know what you will see on this Halloween trip! This event is for children age 4-11 years. Due to space on the trailer you have to book for adults and children. To book call 020 8319 8900.
For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Ricketts on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

Autumn fungi at Woodlands Farm
Autumn fungi at Woodlands Farm
Autumn fungi at Woodlands Farm
Autumn fungi at Woodlands Farm

Hannah is also the person to contact about the last of the farm’s ecological surveys for the year:

Monday 15th October, 2pm – Bee Walk – this is the last bumble bee walk of the year.
Tuesday 16th October, 4pm – Mammal survey – putting the traps out
Wednesday 17th October, 9am – Mammal survey – bringing the traps.

It’s been another interesting year for wildlife surveys at the farm, with all the usual ones being run, including bees, butterflies, moths, bats, tree health, aquatic life, the wildflower meadow and mammals. The Longworth traps have only yielded wood mice this year, none of the voles or shrews that have previously been found. Perhaps Wednesday will be different!

Hawk Moth at Woodlands Farm
Hawk Moth at Woodlands Farm