Friends group shows Olympic ambition for park’s wildlife

A series of schemes to help green and improve South Croydon Rec seem to have really taken wing, in one case quite literally.

Flutterby: Beautiful Butterflies hope to create a wildflower meadow in South Croydon Rec

The park, tucked away off the Brighton Road and squeezed up against the mainline railway viaducts, was used for some major rail engineering works until recently.

Now the trucks and diggers have moved on, a newly formed friends group, as well as organising the seemingly obligatory litter-picks, has been busy finding ways to improve their local park, including recruiting the help of the Tokyo Olympic organisers.

Last month, the London Wildlife Trust’s Brilliant Butterflies started work to mark out the site for a wildflower meadow near the park’s Wyche Grove entrance. It is hoped that the new meadow will attract pollinators, including butterflies, as the shape of the exposed soil suggests.

Friends in action: there’s lots of changes going on in South Croydon Rec

The soil in this area will be made more hospitable to the flowers which encourage native chalkland butterflies, their eggs and caterpillars, by using a cut and rake process over the course of the summer that reduces nutrients in the soil.

Butterflies and bees struggle for habitat across the country, where 80 per cent of meadows have been lost either through changed agricultural practices or development.

Under this scheme, the grass will be allowed to grow long and is then cut and raked off towards the end of the summer, allowing the butterflies and other pollinators to enjoy a full annual cycle and hopefully establish themselves in the park.

Any new visitors to South Croydon Rec will soon also have access to the nectar of the blossoms of 15 cherry trees.

The Sakura trees have been allocated to the park as part of Japan’s cultural celebrations linked to the Tokyo Olympics.

One of the council’s trees and woodland officers managed to get 10 promised cherry trees increased to 15 through a call to the Japanese Embassy. The generosity of the Japanese is just as well: Croydon’s cash-strapped council has no budget for any new trees.

The relatively new Friends of South Croydon Rec have also planted themselves on the interweb, with their own website, which can be found by clicking here.

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