Sherwood, Frilford Heath SSSI, 4th May 2019

Eighteen of us turned up on a bright and sunny, albeit nippy, morning at the magnificent Sherwood House, Frilford, for today’s session led by James. The house has a large garden at the end of which is some woodland which has been designated a SSSI.

We parked up in the driveway, unloaded our tools and James ran through the tasks that awaited us: mainly pulling up invasive Himalayan Balsam, and clearing fallen timber.

After carrying our kit down the length of the garden (past the swimming pool!) we reached the woodland to find there wasn’t a huge amount of Himalayan Balsam in evidence, it being quite early in the growing season. There were plants that looked like it, but they didn’t have the three leaf whirl at the top, nor the watery hollow stems. For the Himalayan Balsam novices (such as the blogger here) it was also explained that HB is easily pulled from the ground. If it resists, that’s another sign it’s the wrong plant.

So after some discussion it was decided we’d return to this site in a couple of weeks’ time, and meanwhile we made our way through the trees to Woodhaven, the next door property. Here we found plenty of the plant to be getting on with.

We set up base camp and after selecting our patches to be cleared we got stuck in, many of us finding the process of gentle pulling, clearing and piling up the plant a therapeutic process. Others of us took to clearing up the timber debris.

After much progress we had our tea break in dappled sunlight and Kevin ran through what they’d learned at the first aid course the previous weekend. It had proved a very useful day for the six attendees.

Following tea break we carried on with our clearing and felt much better knowing that the plants won’t have a stranglehold over the area, allowing other flora to flourish in the coming weeks. Still, we know that when we return there will be more, and this time it will have grown much taller.

During the session we spotted a tiny frog, some muntjacs, speckled-wood butterflies, and some beautiful spring flowers, including orchids. It was a very satisfying morning, all in all.

A ray of sunshine.

Gathering on the driveway of Sherwood House.

Making our way to the woodland at the end of the garden.

(Cuckoo) flower power.


A baby frog.

Himalayan Balsam breaking through.

Margaret surveys the scene...

...before getting stuck in!

Tea break.

A wood clearer.


Bug love.

Home time.


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