Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Frilford Heath SSSI, 17th May 2014

A beautiful day in May and our first session of the year at Frilford Heath SSSI.  The reason for our visit was to begin the annual Himalayan Balsam-pull.  That troublesome alien invader that threatens to choke the life out of our native vegetation each summer.

We assembled at Woodhaven, ten-strong.  Very few tools were required to be transported from the car parking spot to the work site.  The refreshments, first aid kit, gloves and a couple of loppers and saws were all that were necessary on this occasion, since the balsam can easily be uprooted by hand.

Upon arrival, Eleanor reminded us of the appearance of the plant, what it was and was not - there are other plants in the vicinity that look rather similar but are a good deal more difficult to pull.

Being rather shady in amongst the trees, the ground was still rather soggy despite the warm temperatures - wellies were definitely a good idea.  As were long sleeves, owing to the significant quantity of stinging nettles that populate the area.  Indeed, while the balsam growth was highly apparent, most of the plants were lower than the surrounding nettles, making our job somewhat difficult.  It was at least good to see that our work over the past few years appears to be paying dividends - the coverage of the balsam is reduced from previous visits.

Our refreshment break was particularly noteworthy due to Robert having popped in to the nearby Millet's Farm shop to acquire a pair of delicious cakes that were very well appreciated!  At this point, Eleanor also made an announcement about next weekend.  No Green Gym session due to the Bank Holiday, but on the Monday, she will be guiding a walk along the Ock Valley path, starting at 10:30am.  The walk starts at the Market Place, with registration opening at 10am.

Following the break, work was resumed as the temperature continued to rise.  The skies remained cloudless throughout.

Before setting off back down the track at the end of the session, a card was signed by all members present - we had been sad to learn that Mr Amey who lived at the Woodhaven property died recently, and we offered our condolences.  He was very supportive of our work there and will be missed.

Heading across the meadow from Woodhaven to the work site

Preparing to begin

Lauren with some freshly-pulled Himalayan Balsam

Eleanor and Lesley prepare the refreshments

Break time



Further evidence of wild flowers re-populating areas where Balsam has been lagely eradicated

Lauren making her way along the muddy path

Andrew amid the nettles


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