Abraham Wood, 15th May 2021

We met on Boars Hill for another session with the Oxford Preservation Trust (OPT) today. Leader Kevin who had all the tools, parked in the layby along Berkeley Road close to the entrance to the old golf course and Abraham Wood, where we would be working. Meanwhile, most of the other members made use of the temporary free weekend parking at the Peking University HSBC Business School just around the corner.

We were again joined by Lindsay from OPT along with local resident and wildflower enthusiast, Camilla Lambrick. The plan was to split into three teams of six. Once we had transported our tools across the road and down the hill, we set up shop in the wood, which to our delight was carpeted with bluebells. Peak bluebell season no less - a little later than last year, perhaps due to the erratic weather we have been experiencing lately.

Kevin outlined the three tasks of the day which was firstly to continue with the removal of the rogue bamboo growth at the top of the wood, secondly to cut and lop back any new laurel shoots, again within the woodland itself, with the final group working out on the old golf course. Here the job was to cut back dense clumps of rush from along the runnel area in order to assist with the survival of a locally rare plant - the ivy-leaved crowsfoot, which is apparently found nowhere else in the county.

We chose our sides and set to work. Despite the relatively mild weather, rain showers were much in evidence, so for many of us the  shelter of the woodland canopy was most welcome.

Bamboo removal is a notoriously tricky operation with long, stubborn roots and requires a lot of digging and mattock excavation. Fortunately it appears to be a battle that we are winning and today's experience was less daunting than on previous occasions, with just a small quantity left. Which is not to say that it wasn't still very hard work!

The laurel situation seemed a little less optimistic, with fresh shoots appearing throughout the acreage. Following a big clearance operation by contractors a couple of years back, Abraham Wood is much more open and native-species friendly than it once was. However, our mission to cut back the new growth is as ongoing as ever!

Out in the open and away from the trees, the ivy-leaved crowsfoot liberators were hard at it. The rush removal operation continued throughout the morning, with Camilla at the helm. This plant grows in wet areas and it is hoped that it will thrive if the invasive rush is kept in check.

During the mid-morning break, it was announced that Lindsay will be leaving her role at OPT and this will be our final session working with her in that capacity. We hope that she may of course join us in the future under the guise of a plain-clothed Green Gymmer!

The rain largely held off for the remainder of the morning post-refreshment interval. We were treated to a visit by Joanna and Elly the dog, with our canine mascot receiving much attention from many of our members. Hopefully she didn't cause too much of a distraction and stop us from working as hard as intended as the 12:30pm deadline approached!

-Andrew


The cavalry approach.

Down the hill.

Almost there.

Abraham Wood.

Kevin's opening address.

The odd one out (photo by Ursula).

A shelter in the woods, artist unknown.

Laurel growth.

A (squirrel?) skull found by Eleanor B.

Primroses and bluebells.

Wild garlic.

Roger and Graham, the bamboo diggers.

Margaret and Elly the dog.

Cathy and Eleanor B eradicating laurel.

Ivy-leaved crowsfoot.

Lesley at the head of the runnel after it had been cleared of rush (photo by Sally). 

One of the piles of rush that we’d either dug up or cut to allow light for the ivy-leaved crowsfoot to thrive (photo by Sally).

Back up the hill.

End times.


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