The winter work parties kicked off with some planting and some removing. Back in the spring a shake of a few local ragged robin seed heads produced many seedlings and some were planted on the west side of the pond edge in Malster’s Little Field. We hope to establish an area of wetland flora in the soggy edge of the pond.
In Vicarage Grove the success of holly growth had to be curbed in order to encourage the germination of ground flora and other saplings that needed light. Areas of holly were removed by pulling or digging out small rooted plants and cutting back more mature growth. There is a lot of holly in the wood and we do not aim to remove all of it, it provides valuable roosting sites for birds and the berries are a food source. The brashings were gathered up into a loose dead hedge along the edge of the wood perhaps helping to deter Muntjac deer from entering and providing shelter and food source to a variety of insects and small mammals.
A group of six volunteers from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offered to work in the wood and we allocated them a patch of holly to clear. They worked hard all day and made such an impact on the holly clearance creating a neat and substantial dead hedge on the perimeter. We are very grateful for their support and we would love to take up their offer of more help next year. Another bonus for us was that we gained a new volunteer from the group at our regular work parties.
We have been fortunate to receive a large number of trees this year from the Tree Wardens Scheme and Woodland Trust as well as the Conservation Volunteers. The trees have been planted in the northern end of Grove Woods to thicken up a scrub area and to fill in a depleted hedge and in Grove Piece dead trees were replaced and the scrub areas defining the edges of the natural regeneration were added to. Some standalone trees were planted in the natural regeneration area on the eastern side where regeneration has been absent or slower. In the main we have planted trees found in the immediate locality however there are some additions of varieties to broaden the variety and to experiment with trees that can tolerate climate change. In Malster’s little Field the boundary hedge planted by the school had dead trees replaced and in places the hedge was made thicker. More trees were planted into the coppicing area scrub varieties were planted between standalone trees.
We planted five more fruit trees in the community orchard at Merton Wood and also replaced the section of hedge that was removed by adjacent developers. We look forward to the autumn and a bit of scrumping!