Category Archives: Volunteer Days

A Sunday morning stroll in The Woodlands

Last Sunday, the 10th of September, committee member Donald Albrecht had a tour of the woodland to look at possible future maintenance projects, as well as to enjoy the woodland’s tranquility.

Future maintenance projects are to repair some steps and to remove a large fallen branch.

Potential plant projects are to remove ivy from trees along the southern boundaries, to do coppicing projects of elder and dogwood shrubs and to remove robinia suckers.

But we have healthy growing oak trees, a large poplar tree near The Glade, the mulberry tree is growing strongly.

This year we have had quite a good crop of Bramley apples.

Volunteer Day – Sunday 3rd September 2023

Earlier today saw a good turn-out for the September volunteer morning. After last month’s dreadful weather, today was the opposite, very warm, gentle breeze and lots of sunshine, a perfect day! However, after several weeks of only minimal activity in the woodlands, it was time to get on with some serious weeding. The generally cool and wet weather of the last few weeks have seen brambles, ivy and nettles run rampant, so lots of activity – see the accompanying photos – was here to remove these to keep the more delicate ground flora happy.

The apples have had quite a good few weeks, with a lot of Bramleys on the floor and on the trees, but clearly the local birds have been enjoying this free source of food too.

Last year, several small cyclamen flowers were seen in the Woodland glade, it was nice to see that these have spread to 3 small clumps, their delicate pink / mauve flowers are a welcome site at ground level.

The photo below is our pond, which has seen its water level drop and surrounding vegetation take over. Work will be needed in the next few weeks to remove the encroaching vegetation in advance of our early Autumn Open Day.

Although the ivy at this time of year can look very pretty with its flowers – and it’s a good source of food for insects – although the photo below shows some flowers in their glory, we do need to keep it in check because of its very invasive nature.

Finally, today was very warm with lots of sunshine. You wouldn’t think that banana plants could be found in th elocal area, but as you can see, the photo of a neighbour’s garden show them thriving! A real treat to those who work in the woodland!

Backyard Nature in Greenwich.

Calling Youth and Community groups.
Would you like to spend some time in nature?
Try out some creative woodcraft projects?

Book a visit to our woodland in East Greenwich, near Maze Hill station.

Friends of Westcombe Woodlands.
Contact Rich Sylvester / / text 07833 538 143 /

Plan a Visit for your group.
A chance to explore and connect with nature.
The site is a nature reserve with 340 trees, diverse plants, birds, insects, bees, a pond and a meadow.
We regret the site is not wheelchair accessible.

Some Ideas.
Film making.
Pond dipping.
Making bird boxes.
Leaf printing.

Late Spring Flower Survey – Tuesday 6th June 2023

In early June 2023 local botanist Jane Lawson re-visited Westcombe Woodlands as part of her follow up to her site visit several weeks ago. In this short space of time, more late Spring and early Summer flowers are in bloom, with more to follow! Jane’s list of plants that she observed is below, as well as some of the photos she took.

Ground elder Aegopdium podagraria; a patch forming hairless perennial of damp and disturbed ground.
Garlic mustard Sisymbrium alliaria (Jack-by-the-hedge); the leaves grow large in winter and they have a strong garlic smell. It is favoured by the Orange tip butterfly as a food source and is good to eat especially when young.

Wood avens Geum urbanum; a member of the rose family. It has a short creeping root stock. The name is from the Greek geuo in allusion to the clove like smell of the roots which were used to flavour Augsburg beer.
Green alkanet Pentaglottis sempervirens; leaves green throughout the year. Stamens deep inside the flower head.

Hogweed Heracleum sphondylium. It can grow to six feet and is a splendid sight in hedgerows and commons. Not to be confused with an entirely different plant – Giant hogweed. It’s in flower from June to September. The dry hollow stem known as kecks is often a winter home for numerous small creatures such as insects or beetles or snails.
Enchanter’s nightshade. Circaea lutetiana found in damp woodland. The flower is tiny and all its parts are in twos. The genus is named after Circe the Enchantress but no one knows why.
Male fern nephrodiumfilix-mas;
Elm – a rare sight nowadays. Let’s hope it reaches maturity!
Elder Sambucus nigra; A quick grower and very common. The flowers can be used for elderflower cordial and the berries for wine. The juicy shoots harden quickly with a core of pith with can be extracted and then used as a pea shooter or even a music pipe.
Cocksfoot Dactylis glomerata; It has deep roots and survives well in drought.
Dogwood Cornus sanguinea; it was the wood from which dags (daggers) or goads and skewers were made – nothing to do with dogs.

Red campion Silene dioica; attractive widespread and common. It can grow to three feet in height.
Cut leaf cranesbill Geranium dissectum; There are many cranesbills and this one to my mind is the most attractive with its notched bright red petals.
Common meadow grass Poa pratens; This is a very common plant.
Oxeye daisy. Lucanthemum vulgare; Very attractive which can grow to 31 inches tall in some habitats.
Dog rose Rosa canina; There is a multitude of species and it takes a DNA analysis to identify correctly each one. It’s common in hedges and ramble happily over other bushes and trees.

Yellow flag Iris pseudocorus; Grows in profusion on the banks of ponds ditches and rivers.
Marsh woundwort Stachys palustris; Flowers from June to August in damp places.
Meadow sweet Spiraea ulmaria; It has creamy white flowers and likes damp places. It has a powerful lovely fragrance and was used as a strewing herb in times past.
Tutsan Hypericum androsaemum; One of the St John’s Worts but doesn’t have that name. It’s semi evergreen and is found in shady places.
Hazel Corylus avellana; Mostly found as a shrub but if left alone it will develop into a tree. Hazel catkins appear in the spring with the female catkin having a fine red flower at the tip. The nuts are delicious – if the squirrels don’t get them first!

Volunteer Day – Saturday 1st April 2023

Local volunteers and committee members gathered at the woodland site last Saturday for a day of habitat creation, weeding and planting of seeds. As can be seen in the accompanying photos, in a newly created habitat area where dense holly trees have been cleared, new habitats in the form of terraces next to the path that goes from the entrance to the upper levels were created, using the felled tree trunks to act as support structures.

Many of the volunteers were excited to see the primroses in flower, including an unusual purple-coloured primrose, the lords and ladies that were beginning to appear, as well as the bluebells which were growing strongly.

The volunteers took extra care to protect these delicate flowers by clearing any invasive plants such as brambles that could threaten their growth.

We hope that by creating new habitats and caring for the existing ones, we can promote a healthy ecosystem that benefits both the wildlife and the local community.
Of course, no volunteer morning would be complete without the coffee and biscuits!