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A good morning's work despite a torrential downpour!
Nearly a dozen of us gathered in the meadow for several tasks. We pulled up all the ragwort which had invaded during the past year or so - by now the distinctive orange and black caterpillars of the cinnabar moth had moved on so we were not adversely-affecting them by removing their foodplant. We also cut off seeding dock-heads and pulled up nettles from the meadow. All these species would take over if we gave them the chance. Other jobs were to clear brambles and nettles from the edges of the paths, plus the usual litter-pick.
The weather was not kind with several showers including a heavy downpour when we got rather wet.
Back at Angela's place four of the group pricked out the remaining seedlings into pots - unfortunately there had not been much success with seeds this year: many had not germinated and other seedlings had disappeared, perhaps eaten or disturbed.
Sunshine and showers
During a morning of sunshine and a couple of showers a dozen of us helped with a variety of tasks: mowing paths, picking up litter, trimming overhanging branches, pulling nettles and cleavers and scything some long grass.
Michael then led a stroll around the meadow pointing out the many plants in flower including meadow cranesbill, field scabious and betony. The dominant colours in the meadow in the summer are those purple/blue shades and the yellow of birds-foot trefoil and meadow vetchling. The meadow is at its colourful best now and we were pleased to see the results of our work over the years.
We ended the morning by gathering around the log seat for a snack, drink and chat.
Welcoming new faces to the meadow
There were over a dozen people today, nearly half of whom are either new or fairly new to helping in the meadow.
The main task this month was cutting off the hogweed plants to reduce the amount of their seed that will produce more and swamp the meadow. Other tasks included mowing the paths and verge beside the cycle path, scything the grass near the far log seat and pulling nettles and cleavers from various places.
The yellow theme continues as the cowslips have given way to dandelions then buttercups and now the trefoil and yellow rattle are starting to show colour. Soon the pink/purple of meadow cranesbill and knapweeds will add to the richness.
Working outdoors is popular as lockdown slowly eases
There were 17 of us helping today, including several people who have joined us in the last year or so. Four stayed in Angela's garden pricking out seedlings including hedgerow cranesbill, a new species for us - we usually grow seed that we have collected from the meadow.
Several other tasks were tackled in the meadow including pulling up cleavers from the copse and hedgerow before it grows all over more delicate plants, picking up litter and scything patches of long grass and cleavers. It was not warm enough to remove shirts as per Poldark!
Spring tidying in the meadow
We met in two separate groups on the first two Sundays in the month and managed quite a bit of tidying up.
On Easter Sunday some of us moved branches that had been cut from the native hedge to form habitat piles beside the path or added them to the new dead hedges in the top corner.
On the following Sunday half a dozen of the group completed tidying up the branches, scythed and pulled nettles, started tidying up along the river bank and did a litter-pick.
The area is now moving on to the next yellow stage of cowslips, buttercups and dandelions, following on from the primroses and celandines.
Small group tasks in March
We didn't meet as a large group this month but tasks continued in small groups.
We continued tidying up the brambles in the meadow and just need to work our way along the riverside to ensure that the bank does not become choked by brambles.
Most, if not all, the wildflower seeds for this season have now been sown into trays: 14 species - some our own seed collected in the meadow last summer, together with some new varieties. The species include: Agrimony, Betony, Goatsbeard, Columbine and Common Century.
Some of the scattered wood and branches in the corner behind the copse have been formed into a dead hedge beside the cycle path and there has been some more work on our native hedge.
Later in March we have split and planted out some of the snowdrop clumps alongside the copse and hedge, done a litter pick and repaired the dead hedge beside the blue bridge.
Lockdown and limited volunteering
Unfortunately, we decided to cancel the February task morning as Covid-19 was more prevalent and the Government kept asking people to stay at home.
Several members of the group have carried out tasks safely in very small groups on various days during the month with the result that the management has been maintained and the area is looking good. The snowdrops are flowering beside the cycle path and alongside our native hedge, primroses are starting to come out and in the last few days the native daffodils are blooming beside the copse and log seat. We have coppiced some hazel trees, cleared brambles from encroaching on the paths and trimmed dogwood suckers from beside our hedge amongst other tasks.
More volunteering in the fresh air to start the new year
A dozen of us enjoyed a morning in the meadow: socially distanced as we've become accustomed to in these strange times.
Derek continued with brushcutting beside our native hedge with Victor raking up behind so that the spring flowers will be able to flourish at the base of the hedge and people will be able to walk alongside to admire them. A couple of us walked round doing the usual litter pick of mainly drinks cans and a few bottles, another couple tackled a tree within the native hedge that had fallen over in the wind and rain, and the rest of the group finished some coppicing and continued with removing encroaching brambles from the paths.