It’s been just over a year since we were all allowed an early break from our houses and the park became a buzz of activity from 6 to 9 each morning. Everyone was out jogging, gymming, walking, chatting, but also weeding as we’d lost prime time for ridding the park of weeds and their seeds.
This time round, we’re more or less ahead of the weeds. We’ve also begun implementing various plans that were hatched during early lockdown. The park remains almost as heavily used as right after lockdown, but we’ve conquered some forgotten corners, allowing everyone to spread out more. Take a stroll down the new paths into the North-West corner of the park to discover a hidden garden. Or wander over the ridge behind the gym equipment to enjoy a breath-taking view across the Northern suburbs.
Residents have begun donating bags-full of autumn leaves so we can mulch all the rockeries and beds that we’ve freed of kikuyu and weeds, and in which new plants now have to survive the next few months without water.
We keep learning which plants grow best, and what to make cuttings of and plant more of in spring.
We’ve discovered some champion weed-busting, drought-loving species. Thanks to Mayford’s seed donation, we have indigenous grasses flourishing in several previously weed-infested patches. We’ll resume sowing grass seeds in spring.
A new priority is the area of the park that meets Putney corner Esher. A gatvol resident confronted dumping and began having rubble and waste removed. The plan is to prepare new paths, rockeries and seating areas. Watch this space, but also come out and join the action, adopt a patch and enjoy seeing it flourish.
The Park People
A sad-looking stray has been part of Brixton’s street scene for at least two months. Tail tucked in, ears and eyes alert, she would look back to make sure no one was following her. Several residents had hopes of gaining her trust through food and luring her into safety. She seemed to anticipate these plans, and would move to a different part of Brixton. The SPCA tried at least four times to catch her!
As the weeks went by, her belly swelled. A WhatsApp group formed among those spotting her regularly. We co-ordinated feeding and hoped to secure her safety before she’d give birth to her pups. Like a slippery bar of soap, she never quite allowed anyone close enough to fit a collar, and evaded attempts to make her enter an open gate. But slip into our hearts she did.
She moved between Barnes and Putney, most frequently seen lying in the afternoon sun outside an unused gate in Putney west. We racked our brains. But she had it all planned. All along she was trying to tell us: ‘humans, just bear with me, I have it all sorted’.
On Friday morning 14 May, residents in Putney heard squeaks from a recessed clump of bamboo. The commune owner allowed us to cordon the area off with a neat barrier crafted by a resident carpenter. The Sector Crime Forum agreed to keep a lookout and neighbours brought her food. Students in the commune stayed awake all night watching over her. On Saturday morning, they reported her sudden escape. But the perfect mom came right back after relieving herself. The barrier was raised.
On Sunday, a dog whisperer from Place a Pup in Bryanston arrived and lifted nine pups to the safety of a canopied pick-up. She managed to gain the stray’s trust sufficiently to slip a collar over her head and lead her to a happy reunion with her offspring. By evening, photos poured in of a box with cosy blanket in a warm room, home to a relaxed mom feeding her tumbling pups.
Why didn’t one of us keep her and the pups? We did debate this. But as Place a Pup explained, 95 percent of puppies don’t survive their third week if the mom isn’t vaccinated against pavovirus. Place a Pup has experience with pulling such pups through, while also getting the moms dewormed and eventually spayed. They provide behavioural training, before putting the mom up for adoption. They do home visits before placing pups.
Anyone wishing to support Place a Pup while they care for Brixton’s stray and her large litter up to weaning at six weeks, and/or beyond, can contact them using the details below.
Post by Marie Huchzermeyer
Brixton Community Forum members share their views on neighbourhood matters, and we interview Brixton residents. #BrixtonBeautiful