There are flowers to look out for in February!
Starting at the café walk towards the car park entrance; just after you pass the old loo block, take the path to the left and see if you can find the snow drops. They are just on your left as you pass the trees on the left hand side. These lovely winter flowers are sometimes called ice breakers! Returning to the path to the car park look out for the yellow flowers on the winter jasmine growing on the corner of the Italianate rose garden wall, pink and white flowers of the camellias on the bed between the two sets of steps to this garden. There are pink flowers on the winter heather, on the flower bed below the car park wall. There may even be some early bumble bees visiting these.
Back to the main walk/cycle path past the Winter Gardens you will see 3 large evergreen trees, Cider Gums, on your left in front of the uni building. Planted in 1882 by James Boyd, the guy who owned Avery Hill before Colonel North. Look closely and you will see their tiny flower buds.
Continuing along the path alongside Avery Hill Road the yellow, white and purple crocus should be flowering. Keep along the path and at the corner just past the bus stop look out for Snowdrops again, these were planted by 1st Royal Eltham Cubs in 2006.
The path from here closely follows the south edge of the park. Look for the old railings, once marking the boundary to Southwood House. Look closely and you will see that several of the trees have grown so much since planting that they have engulfed the railings! Have you spotted any trees coming into leaf along here? The Elderberries should be showing signs that spring is on the way. There will be fluffy catkins on the “pussy” Willow trees.
Reaching the bridge over the Pippinhall stream keep a look out for birds. At this time of year they are beginning to pair off and you may even hear some of them singing. The Thrush is easily identified, he likes to repeat every phrase he sings! If you are lucky enough to be walking in the rain listen out for the Mistle Thrush. He’s slightly larger than the Song Thrush and likes to sing out from the tree tops when it’s raining!
One of the hedgerow trees in this area is the Blackthorn. It has small white flowers, as you admire them remember that this tree gives us the fruit we call “Sloes” beloved of birds and festive Gin drinkers!
Continue along the path around Greys (the Rugby) field and at the upper bridge over the Pippinhall stream look down the hedgerow towards the lower bridge and see if you can spot any of the snowdrops planted by Alderwood School pupils. Now take a diversion to the left and walk up the avenue of trees. Here are more Snowdrops, planted by Royal Eltham Guides to mark the centenary of Guiding in 2010. From here you have the choice of retracing your steps to the walk/cycle path or completing the circuit of Henley’s meadow to return to the walk/cycle path. Make your way along this path back to the café for a welcome chance to have a warming drink.
All parks have a great history, created as public open, green spaces by visionary men and women for the people to enjoy.