Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

What an epic weekend it’s been….

  • Exciting man versus machine – Silvesterstone
  • Enthralling, long-lasting racket against racket – SW19
  • Last gasp victory in bat versus ball – from central London
  • Last but not least, a few men versus a lot of Himalayan Balsam – Comber Road, Kinver Edge, Staffs….

Whilst some lounged all day in front of their TV’s, a very small and thus very determined group met up with ranger Ewan to pull up Himalayan Balsam from the slopes of the sandstone ridge at Kinver (whilst other members of the Group holidayed with the NT in Northumberland).  The increased light from previous woodland thinning activities (see as long ago as December last year), coupled with moist conditions means that there are plenty of pink and white flowers; and after that seeds starting to appear. These need to be prevented from spreading, which calls for manual labour!

Ewan explained how the plant will root / find a home, even in loose leaf litter and still reach up to 2m.  Hence if you pull from the root, it’ll come out easily.  Then comes the additional tasks: separate the root from the plant, otherwise that’ll refix itself; break up the stem; and finally separate the flowerhead from the plant, so that that part too has no reserves of energy to call on.

If things go to plan, there will soon be some cattle on the property, tasked with keeping down the scrub, who will in no time reduce this plant’s abundance – so message to all those members who didn’t turn out this Sunday….the days of this task are hopefully numbered!

Still – roll on paddling in the water at other NT properties later this month and into August!

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Unusually, SSNTV worked on a Bank Holiday Sunday to help the garden team at Shugborough with the mulching, weeding and edging of beds in the Pleasure gardens between the mansion and the river.

There were teams laying bark chippings onto the plastic weed suppresser in one large bed, while others weeded four more and tidied them by trimming the edges.

After lunch one team moved on to meticulously cutting the edges of the tulip (former rose garden) beds after Gardener Derek had mowed the grass paths. 

Whilst sounding straightforward the jobs were surprisingly long-winded and needed us to persevere, despite backs and knees complaining at times! The consensus was that the end result was worth it as we could see the tremendous improvement we had made in the beds, and after the trimming of the edges in the formal garden the wonderful display of tulips looked even better – well at least that’s what we thought!

Derek was very pleased and promised to cut down more trees to provide the extra mulch needed to help suppress the likely weed growth in the coming months – so he or boss Caroline are sure to keep us busy!

….Thanks to Workday leader David

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Edge ranger Al, has a predicament…. he has a new tenant farmer for one of his fields alongside the A458 but the farmer wants a stock proof fence to keep his sheep in.

The livestock is due to arrive on 1st May and we are only two weeks away with 160 meters of hedge to be cut back so the new fence can be erected by a contractor starting on 23rd April.

What can he do?… Answer: Call in SSNTV!

Its Easter Sunday…will anyone turn up? (The group have not been out on a bank holiday for a number of years – they do need some days off to build up their strength after all)

Well Al need not have worried, eleven members and one member’s visitor all the way from London met up at the designated lane.  Al dragged assistant Kate along as well.

In no time fire number one was burning away. So off to the other end of the field for fire number two.  Both were blazing by cake o’clock, as the old fence started to appear from under the hawthorn and among the brambles.

The sun blazed down, the heat of the fires and the sweat pouring out of everyone, mean frequent breaks for water had to be taken as the hedge shrank in size and the bonfires got bigger.

Cue reddened faces and relief, as by the end of the day the task was complete, old hedge was removed and the group left Al and Kate to take down the old barbed wire ready for the next phase of work to start on Tuesday morning.

Workday leader – Peter O

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So in the end we made it to Walcot Wood for one day this Spring and experienced the whole range of weather that nature could provide!

After the high winds of Saturday which caused a cancellation, an early Sunday start saw blue skies and dry as we arrived on site – a delight. However soon after heading up the hill, grey skies arrived and hail – or was it sleet – came down briefly!
As work continued clearing the hawthorn stands to reveal more of the aged oaks and encourage more flora – which was already starting to peak through, as we spotted the first spring primose flowerheads – showery spells were interspersed with sunny skies.
Cake o’clock and lunch came and went in the sunshine – should we have a long Sunday lunchtime BBQ next time?…. and as the day came to a close with more of the hillside revealed – hopefully Countryside Manager Pete will like what we’ve done – the peace and tranquility of the remote site became clear to all as the wind subsided and the sun shone to round off the day.

…You know you’ve been to Walcot – the flipside of the views and rolling green hills are the steep slopes – your aching knees remind you of that when you get home!

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Our EVENTS page has been updated with new dates for your diary.

If you have volunteered with us before…., then you know how to book onto the workdays.

If you’re interested to volunteer with us for the first time…., then please contact us for more info – just pop over to our CONTACTS PAGE and send us your details so our web fairy can put you in touch with us.

In the meantime, don’t forget that we are also on Facebook.

Just click the Facebook link in the sidebar to read recent workday reports and see more pictures (don’t worry, you don’t have to have a Facebook account to read the updates!).

Walcot Woods

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The Weir, Hereford, Saturday 22nd October

It has been a while since we visited The Weir, May 7th to be exact. It is a real pleasure to work at this location, particularly so this weekend as we had such lovely weather.

Our task was to cut back overgrown buddleia and rosemary willow. The idea was that we would uncover the old pig sty. We were wondering if this would be possible as we couldn’t see a pig sty – as you can see from the ‘after’ pic, the pig sty was there and we worked hard to reveal it from the undergrowth.

We enjoyed working with NT gardener Ned. He always has something interesting to show us in the garden. This time it was a fabulous selection of pumpkins and squash of all shapes and sizes and an oddly shaped vegetable – which turned out to be a south american cucumber of the Achocha family, known as the ‘Fat Baby’. Also growing there was a close relative of the Fat Baby – the exploding cucumber, Latin name Cyclanthera Explodens.

 

 

 

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Wenlock Edge, old quarry, Friday 7th to Sunday 9th October

Earlier in the year, a discussion took place with NT Ranger Chris – what would be better than a workday at Wenlock Edge? The answer? Three workdays at Wenlock Edge! And so the group found themselves booked in for a three day working weekend, working at a new part of the site. The location was an old limestone quarry which has long since ceased production. The National Trust recently took over management of the site. It had become overgrown with hawthorn and blackthorn hence badly in need of some volunteer action.

There is a variety of things that make the group happy: – good weather, chunky trees to chop, a bonfire, lots of cake. All of these were available in abundance!

Some of the group stayed overnight at an NT holiday cottage near Dudmaston. Ron tested his culinary skills on Friday evening, providing the group with a delicious spaghetti dish. Sheila helped out by creating an apple crumble, using apples provided by Ron from his own garden. This was washed down with a fine selection of ales, or a glass or two of homemade wine – “Rhubarb Ruin”. On the Saturday evening, the overnighters ventured into Bridgnorth for a meal in a local bistro – I am sure it wasn’t as good as Ron and Sheila’s tasty creations on Friday.

The photos don’t do justice to the extent of work completed over the weekend. We hope to be back working at this site sometime before Christmas so if you want to see it, keep an eye on our programme of workdays and come out and join us.

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