Barton Fields, 14th June 2014

A small group of Green Gymmers met in Barton Lane to help the Abingdon Naturalists' Green Team, led this time by David Dewhurst. The main tasks were pulling up Himalayan Balsam in the willow carr area at the other end of the site, and litter picking.

After the overnight thunderstorms, the willow carr area was very wet with ankle deep water in parts so those who hadn't worn wellies lived to regret it but they set off to do litter picking in the drier parts of the site.

Firstly we needed to distinguish between the less invasive Orange Balsam and the Himalayan Balsam, which was our main target. You can see the two plants side by side in the photo below. As the flowers have not yet appeared, you have to look at the leaves, which are more deeply serrated in the orange balsam and are arranged in opposite pairs, whereas in the Himalayan, the leaves are grouped in a patterns of three up the stem. The orange balsam was much more abundant nearer to the entrance to the willow carr with more Himalayan at the farther end. It grew particularly thickly by the boundary fence.

We met up again for the refreshment break and found that the litter pickers had filled several bags as well as finding a large unidentifiable metal object. After the break we continued attacking the balsam. By battling through the nettles, the wellie-less people found a way in avoiding the water and so were able to help. By 12.30 we had accumulated some satisfactory heaps and the more obsessive workers had to be forcibly dragged away. There will be a lot more clearing to do before the end of the Summer.

Laura among the Balsam

Orange Balsam left, Himalayan Balsam right

Margaret hard at work

Green team Ian litter picking with daughters Joanne and Gail

Tea break

Eleanor with the champion prize winning specimen


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