The London Borough of Bexleys's Parks and open space team are responsible for the management of the meadows. All heavy duty work is undertaken by their contractors. The Friends in association with Bexley are involved with other management activities such as Tree planting and Pond restoration work. See the activities page of this site. This page written and images by Michael Heath.



Ten Anniversary Trees – Latest 15th June 2016 – posted by M Heath Chair.

The Ten anniversary trees all now have an enhanced tree pit. This was due to the volunteers in the picture below, Malcolm, Ray, Ian, Ron, Michael and the photographer Brian. This team completed this task last Friday and a special ‘thank you’ to each of them. The mulch should have received a good soaking over the last week. But it will dry out and with any protracted dry spell we will have to water the trees.


 Image by B Riches


Posted 7th June 2016 M Heath 

Ten Anniversary Trees Celebrating Ten Years of the Friends of Foots Cray Meadows.

The Meadows now have ten young trees planted to celebrate the formation of the Friends of Foots Cray Meadows in 2006. We are indebted to committee member Raj for the idea of recognising this milestone in this way. Thanks also to Sid Wilkinson the Tree and Woodland Officer with the London Borough of Bexley for sourcing and planting these trees. See the location plan below, the individual species are:

1 Quercus Palustris (Pin Oak)

2 Paulownia tomentosa (Foxglove Tree)

3 Betula papyrifera (Paper Birch)

4 Zelkova serrata

5 Liquidamber styraciflua (Sweet Gum)

6 Ulmus Lobel (Elm Cultivar)'Lobel'

7 Ostrya carpinifolia (Hop Hornbeam)

8 Juglans regia (Walnut)

9 Acer platanoides (Crimson King)

10 Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree)


Whilst over the years we have been working with London Borough of Bexley planting native small trees (whips) to protect the existing ancient woodlands on the Meadows this is a wonderful; opportunity to plant ten larger trees. Sid has especially selected spectacular species which reflect on the landscaped heritage of the Meadows. Much of the site was developed in the 18th Century from the formal design of the grounds to Foots Cray Place and North Cray Place.  

With the trees in the ground (They were planted February.) and summer arrived, it is now important they are nursed as they establish in their new home. This falls to the Friends and involves: observing the trees for signs of damage or stress, maintaining a clear and mulched tree pit around them. This is because weed and grass will draw moisture and nutrients away from the tree and finally watering. Such trees are planted with a surprisingly small root ball and it will take time for the roots to spread. Thus our trees need extra water during the summer months.

Thanks also to Mark Taylor, Bexley's 'Tree and Conservation' Officer for leading a tree care training session in early June. Armed with this basic knowledge (as explained above), we now need to ensure the trees are looked after.

Watch out for watering and maintenance parties from the Friends and Bexley Staff, the former most likely with a trolley of water containers across the Meadows.  All are welcome to volunteer to help with their care you can check our website for events or contact the Friends . Also please report any concerns with the trees to either:

The Bexley Parks team  or to the Friends at the above e mail address.   

This is a great example of how the Friends of Foots Cray Meadows work in partnership with the Parks Team and our commitment to the Meadows. However, the challenge is on for us all to care for the trees, enabling them to mature into natural 'showstoppers' complimenting the habitat and beauty of the Meadows for generations to come.  

 FFCM Members at the Tree Care Session June 2016

Bluebells. May 2016

 You do not have to have a National Trust Card to enjoy Bluebells, just take a spring walk into North Cray Woods at Foots Cray Meadows and wow. The above image is just a few metres off the tarmac path from the St Andrews Road entrance and below is further into the wood towards Royal Park School Images and post M Heath 3 May 2016   



The Willows at Five Arches.

Finally four years on  the outer two Willows on the East Bank at Five arches were pollarded in February 2016, there are signs of new growth and they should return to full glory as with the inner two .3 May 2016


Less than a year on see the new growth as the pollarded trees are returning to their former glory. The outer two trees are due to be pollarded later this year. Unfortunately the Willow nearest the Five Arches on the West Bank is apparently beyond saving and will have to be taken down. August 2012


Visitors to the Meadows enjoying the heat wave this last weekend will have noticed the Pollarding of two of the weeping willows on the East side of the lake near the Five Arches. This work is long awaited as these trees were decaying and in danger of splitting and being lost. Pollarding is the removal of many of a trees limbs leaving the main trunk and encourages new stronger growth; it is a long established treatment for the management of trees. Willows respond positively to this process, so what appears alarmingly dramatic bringing a new dimension to the landscape, should in turn considerably extend the life of these trees.

Coincidentally the dead tree trunk on the opposite bank has been retained to act as a natural habitat for wildlife. Foots Cray Meadows between Five Arches and upstream to the Penny Farthing bridge (including the fenced off pond and wetland area) is a Local Nature Reserve with wildlife protection restrictions on fishing and dogs or people entering the river and lake in this area. 

3rdOctober 2011

Images of the willows by M Heath



The temporary reduction of the tree canopy from coppicing re regenerates the woods and brings out the bluebells
Coppicing (click here for the wikipedia definition link) takes place in the established woodland areas on Foots Cray Meadows, The most recent site of coppicing March 2011 is a 50m section in the river woodland at the North end of the meadows see images below


above images of recent Coppiced section of wood , below is the previous coppiced section now two years later showing the new growth.