MCT Activities in March, 2023

We had no internet for the past 11 days from TalkTalk but back on at last now. We’ve been doing a lot of path improvements to the main path and the informal path behind Goodwood Grove houses, including some removal of a couple of trees in the wrong place as well as adding more pea gravel. Delighted to see how well the Cowslips were doing on March 27th in our study of the benefits of adding P and K to subsoil when they were planted out last Autumn. The results were a bit surprising as these 2 are typical of those which had no P or K added!

Lesley, Paul, Louise and Malcolm took advantage of the rain over Mayfields on Saturday night to identify the significant depressions in the main path that needed to be filled with pea gravel on Sunday 12th March. They used 11 bags over an hour’s work. This helps to reduce trampling on the grass verges.

Good dry weather on Mayfields on March 4th, ideal for careful selective trimming of growing grass, docks, nettles and velcro plants, while taking care to trim around English bluebells, primroses and pulmonarias in the bluebell area. We also gathered up a lot of twiggy material and some larger fallen branches there.

MCT Activities in February 2023

Good to see Adam Cresser back on Mayfields during a visit on February 25th. He was admiring the sequence of wildflowers on a quick tour, from Snowdrops to native Daffodils and Primroses to Cowslips. He particularly enjoyed the Blackthorn blossom on trees planted by MCT a few years ago though.

Quite cool on February 22 on Mayfields but fine for doing a bit more clearing of vegetation that was starting to invade the path behind Goodwood Grove houses. We plan to replant this area with attractive native shrubs that will be more manageable over the next few years.

Before (left) and after (right) shots of the section cleared on Wednesday 22nd February, 2023. Still a bit more to do before replanting..

The overnight rain went quite early on Thursday morning, leaving pleasantly mild conditions for Lesley & Paul, Alan, and Louise & Malcolm to do more work behind the Goodwood Grove houses. We managed to cut back a willow growing through the fence panels at one point as well as disposing off-cut material at the composting area. Thanks to Louise for her excellent photographs.

.We started to reduce the brambles growing towards (and sometimes through!) the fences of Goodwood Grove gardens on February 15th. There’s more to do and we’re also reducing the leaf cover there to give more light to the buried wildflowers.

Malcolm, Louise, Lesley and Paul took advantage of the sustained dry weather on February 3rd to clean and apply wood preservative to the small gate and fence beside it now these were accessible.

Louise and Lesley after a job well done. Paul also managed to reinforce the slats on the adjacent fence on either side of the playground.

With help from the Council on February 1st we managed to dispose of the two locks that had been added (by someone without permission) to hold the Nelsons Lane gate permanently open. The gate opens easily both ways and closes automatically. It was installed for safety reasons to reduce the risk of children and/or dogs running straight out into the road.


On Saturday morning, 28th January, Alan, Lesley, Paul, Malcolm and Louise tested the erection of the MCT gazebo with a replacement canopy. It was done in a back garden to familiarize us with the slightly different design and make sure it was a good fit.

Lovely to see so many of the 3000-plus snowdrops planted by MCT volunteers with help from Ian Tomlinson in past years starting to flower again at the north end of the main path on Friday 27th January. The native primroses are a bit later this year but coming on well. The hazels were almost as beautiful as the bird song.

Great to have 4 excellent Goodgym volunteers out on January 14 to help Louise and Malcolm clear the heavy fall of twigs and small branches off of the southern end of the main path before they (the twigs!) got trampled in too heavily and formed mud.

The small side gate entrance to Mayfields should be automatically closing to reduce the risk of young children and dogs running out into the road. Unfortunately someone, probably a cyclist, has locked it open. We have put a notice on the gate asking them to remove the locks if they want to keep them.

Great to have Paul and Lesley Abbott out helping on January 12. We managed to strim and mow on either side of the Nelsons Lane fence and trim back several of the shrubs starting to encroach across the grass area. It’s important to keep the line of vision around the bend beside the Playground clear.

It was a useful session too yo show that the Mayfields Volunteers Ap Lesley set up for Malcom was working well. If you’d like volunteer to work in Mayfields for the odd hour or two and to join the group to hear of upcoming volunteer sessions, and you use Whats Ap, just send your name and mobile number to Malcolm.

We had a short break from field work over the festive season, but spent time circulating a members Newsletter and collecting Annual Subscriptions. Many thanks to the 45 members who have paid already and especially to those who added extra donations to support our work. It’s a very encouraging response. New members are always welcome too, as are new volunteers.

Malcolm was back out again on January 4th, clearing away some fallen and dead branches following the recent periods of windy weather.

MCT Activities in December 2022

Many thanks to our supporters via the Co-op Community Fund too. Activity levels were a bit lower during the last part of December due to the prolonged severe frosty conditions.

Cold but dry on December 1st 2022 on Mayfields. Good weather for Mike and Malcolm to work on restoring sections of the main path at the southern end to reduce grass encroachment and mud formation. Raking was followed by adding a fresh top dressing of pea gravel.

MCT Activities in November 2022

Before and after spreading another 5 bags of pea gravel on a muddy section of the main path on November 30th.

A bit different on Thursday 24th November. Mike came round to help Malcolm remove and cut up a branch hanging dangerously over the path by the dead hedge. Mike did an excellent job with the Silky pole saw at full extension (21 feet).

By November 22nd MCT had added 25 bags of pea gravel to fill the wet depression at the north end of the main path. Even after the torrential rain in the morning on November 23rd this area was still quite dry.

Reacent heavy rainfall really shows up the undulations in the main path on Mayfields as the puddles fill with muddy organic matter. On November 18-20 Malcolm added 15 bags of pea gravel to the biggest depression in the main path to provide a drier walking route.

Adding a few groups of Fritillaries after addition of P and K fertilizer to the subsoil locally prior to planting on Monday 14th November. Thanks to Louise for the photograph.

More leaf clearing on Sunday, using a mower to pick up and shred freshly fallen leaves from the path. It was good to see some beneficial effects already of the P and K added to sub soil of the recently planted out Cowslips.

Great to have Mike helping with clearing compacted muddy leaves off of the path at the Little Hob Moor end for 2 hours on Thursday afternoon.

Mike soon mastered our new technique with the long-handled leaf grabber.

Invested in a pair of long-handled leaf grabbers on Monday morning and tested them on site on the muddiest bit of the main path after scraping with a wire lawn rake. They certainly reduce the amount of bending required.

Another session of leaf clearing off of the path and some trimming of wild roses growing through the fence by the gate by Sabrina, Louise and Malcolm.

A useful session with Sabrina, Louise and Malcolm on November 3rd. We trimmed some large branches overhanging the eastern side of the Playground in Nelsons Lane and cut all the material up before moving it to the composting area

MCT Activities in October 2022

After planting the 3rd set of Cowslips on October 27th, Mark, Mike and Malcolm did some trimming of overhanging shrub branches to give more light (and potentially water) to the adjacent Cowslips. This set had P and K added to the sub-soil just below rooting depth. In the process it also provided better growth conditions for a small Yew tree, as shown in the photo below..

On 26th Mark and Malcolm transplanted out some more Cowslips, but this time added phosphate fertilizer to the 10-15 cm of loose soil blow the pot depth. Part of our Co-op supported project is to see if we can enhance wild-flower establishment by adding P and/or K.

Mark and Malcolm transplanting Cowslips after phosphorus addition. Thanks to Louise for the photo.

On Tuesday 25th October Mark, Louise and Malcolm started work on the MCT project being supported for a year by the local Co-op Community Fund to enhance biodiversity and wild flower species on the meadow. They planted the first batch of Cowslips that they had been growing on in a local member’s garden.

More leaf removal from the main path on October 23rd


Path after 80 minutes of leaf clearing. Thanks to Louise for the photograph.

Light rain on October 21st but OK for trimming overhanging rose and brambles becoming a nuisance on this corner of the site.

17 volunteers from GoodGym came out in the dark on October 17 to help Malcolm with weeding the edge of the main path and cut up branches overhanging the side path around the meadow. Louise provided excellent refreshments after all their hard work. We were really impressed the next morning to see what a really excellent job they had done.

Beautifully edged path the morning after. Well done and thanks to GoodGym.

GoodGym volunteers working by headlamp light at 19.00 on 17th October.

MCT was sad to hear about the death of one of our members in summer of 2022. Because walking on Mayfields was one of her favourite activities her daughter asked us if she could donate a tree to commemorate her mum’s love of Mayfields. The tree arrived on the hottest day of the year when the soil was very dry so we grew it on in a tub in a garden until the weather was better for planting a tree. On October 13th Malcolm and Mike planted it out very carefully on the site.

It had an excellent rooting system and, as the photos below, show it is growing well.

A useful double session on Sunday 9th of October. Great to have Kathryn back a.m. to help Malcolm mowing round the young trees and shrubs at the north-east end of the main path. Mariella, Alex and Louise helped in the afternoon collecting leaves off of the main path before they could turn to mud later in the year.

Kathryn using our recent replacement battery mower round young trees and shrubs.

Alek using a mower to collect up and shred leaves off of one of the back paths for composting on site

Mariella raking leaves to small piles to collect up and shred with the mower.

More mowing on October 6. Mike and Malcolm mowed both sides of the Nelsons Lane fence.

Mike was very happy with the new 4 Ah battery which lasted well over an hour.

A nice sunny afternoon on 2nd October was ideal for an hour’s mowing behind Hob Moor Terrace houses.

A good opportunity for Malcolm to test a new 4 Ah battery.

MCT Activities in September 2022

We mowed the area around the young trees beside the path to the railway underpass on September 29th as part of our scheme to maintain diverse habitats across Mayfields.

Only took just over an hour to do this job.

Malcolm and Louise added more logs and gravel to hel delineate the path edge on 27 September.

One of the jobs done by MCT at least twice a year is trimming the vegetation growing through the fence into the playground. Mike and Malcolm had a 2-hour session on this on September 22nd. It is important to remove thorny and prickly material.

Malcolm raking up the final traces at the end.
Mike making a start on the west side at the Nelsons Lane end

By September 18th we had finished trimming the dead vegetation on the meadow (via a series of 1 or 2-hour strimming and raking sessions by Malcolm, Mike and Kathryn). Sabrina and her friend Joey joined Mariella, Alek, Malcolm and Louise on the 18th to help mow around the outside of the meadow and collect up all the cut vegetation for composting.

Joey soon mastered the battery mower.
Sabrina used secateurs to cut the tougher dried stems.
Mariella and Malcolm hard at work raking up dried offcuts.

Alek with a very full bag to take to the compost area.

September 1st started with more trimming of mainly knapweed and grass on the meadow by Mike, Kathryn and Malcolm. Earlier than expected this as a consequence of trying to deal with droughty weather in York and listening to the local weather forecast for 3rd and 4th September.

Mike and Kathryn using a mix of secateur work and mowing.

Kathryn cutting one of the self-sown encroaching roses back to ground level.

MCT Activities in August, 2022

Good to have Sabrina joining us as a volunteer on Mayfields to work towards her DoE award. In a double session on Monday 22nd August we made a start on the Meadow’s Autumn trim and and with trimming excessive material growing through and/or over the fence into the playground.

Started with sheers and raking

A good start (after mowing at 6.6 and 4 cm.
Sabrina helping trim overhanging branches in the playground.

Malcolm spent an hour replacing a broken height adjustment rod on one of our older Mountfield Battery mowers on August 4th. At £26 for parts it’s a lot cheaper than buying a new mower and lets us keep using the older style of batteries.

Look for the shiny grey plastic (the new part).

Later that day Adam Cresser helped Malcolm for 2 hours to reduce some of the vegetation on the bund competing too successfully for water with the maturing trees we need to maintain.

The offcuts are cut up and left as a mulch.

The climate change-induced drought over most of July has had a big impact on Mayfields. Trees have responded by translocating nitrogen back to the roots from leaves resulting in brown edges to leaves and then leaf fall. This is their mechanism for reducing their evapotranspiration and water use. If it goes on for too long some trees and shrubs die, The tall grass on the meadow tends to get flattened on Mayfields. When rain was forecast for a few days we removed some of this by strimming and raking in selected areas and were please to see some of the protected wildflower species re-emerging as the areas greened up. We had an evening mowing volunteer session on 3rd August to trim back dead grass stems on some of the main path verges with the mowers set to 4 – 5 cm.

Mowing on August 3rd made good use of our new battery mower and an older one.

We’re grateful to the Dringhouses and Woodthorpe Ward of CYC for funding the new mower.

MCT Activities in July 2022

July ended with a useful amount of rain and, on 31st, more raking off of tall, dry grass cut with the strimmer. Good to see wildflowers starting to re-emerge.

Area strimmed and raked a few days earlier greening up well.

A mix of routine jobs up to July 27 in several sessions. The drought killed off a number of small shrubs and trees but not many. It finally started to rain fortunately but only after we had done more watering of young trees and shrubs. We removed some dead plants in the woodland areas and did several strimming and raking sessions of parts of the meadow dominated by flattened dead grass. On the 27th we used a mower set at 5 cm to collect up more of the grass (that raking had missed). Meanwhile Louise did 2 sessions of litter picking.

Louise and Malcolm (that’s him as the shadow below) added another 80 litres of water to the soil round the Jubilee oak on Thursday July 14, not as hot as earlier in the week but trees need a lot of water in a drying wind (when recently planted especially). Kathryn and Mark helped with the same job earlier in the week.

On July 9th and 10th Kathryn and Malcolm braved the heat to finish a few outstanding weeding jobs and adding needed tree stakes.

On 2nd July Malcolm and Kathryn relaid the 4 paving stones someone had deposited in front of one of the 3 MCT benches to create a level surface over a weed barrier. It is now safer and looks neater.

A couple of days later an Oak tree was planted on little Hob Moor to comemorate the platinum Jubilee of H.M. Queen Elizabeth the Second. MCT was one of the sponsors and also took over 100 litres of water to assist with the planting conditions.

MCT Activities in June, 2022

Mike and Malcolm managed to finish strimming the grass beside Nelsons Lane on June 28 and rake up the cut material for composting elsewhere on site.

Very dry so best to remove for reduction of fire risk as well as for ecology!
Another job finished, just a few hundred more to do.

Still no rain on Saturday morning (June 25), but at least it was cool enough in the shade to spend 2 pleasant hours reducing the velcro plants, docks, nettles, brambles and excess buttercups that were starting to starve some of our recently planted shrubs of water and light.

Shrubs are generally doing well in spite of water shortage.

Malcolm went out for an hour and a half of strimming at just after 9.30 on Friday before it got too warm, cutting back grass that was taking much-needed water from round young trees and shrubs.

Sad to see one of the MCT information boards vandalized on 16th June. We’ll attempt to fix it for now as a replacement costs almost £1000.

Really warm on June 16 but Malcolm managed an hour of cutting down nettles and brambles about 4 feet tall growing against the fences of 3 or 4 Hob Moor Terrace houses.

Kathryn noticed a pair of large willow branches that had broken off of a crack willow at the N end of the site, overhanging an adjacent property.. She later came out with Mark and Louise to help reduce the overhang to a safer level. We’ll try to cut the remainder down later in the week.

After removing some sections to make it easier to see the break.

On Tuesday 7th Lesley, Paul and Malcolm carefully re-laid the 4 paving slabs someone had deposited on the grass in front of one of the MCT benches beside the path. This was necessary because they were protruding over the grass edge and nowhere near level, posing a trip risk. They were re-laid at a better depth over a double weed barrier and horticultural sand. It disturbed an ants nest, not surprising as the slabs had just been dumped on the surface.

Testing the re-laid slabs. Lesley also managed an hour of mowing.

Malcolm managed a 3-hour session on Thursday 2nd June, mainly mowing but some nettle reduction.

In need of grass removal to reduce soil N status.
After mowing the eastern half.
After mowing both path verges.