Categories: Rewilding674 words2.6 min read

Pond planting and balsam bashing!

DATE

18/06/2021

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In humid conditions, our volunteers got a lot done!

After a dry, but cold April, followed by an extremely wet May, June’s sunshine has been a real delight. It has, however, also meant that the vegetation at the small nature reserve we work on in Surbiton has really shot up! While this is no bad thing, as an essential part of this site is its wheelchair friendliness, we need to make sure the path is clear at all times.

Some vegetation removal was therefore essential, the majority of which were nettles. Not only does clearing these nettles allow for wheelchair accessibility on the path but has the added benefit of removing nutrients from the soil. As an old allotment site, the soil has a high nitrogen content, which has meant nettles have flourished. We want to lower the nutrient content so that other wildflowers can establish themselves.

To do this, when nettles are removed, we take them away to ensure they don’t rot back down onto the soil. Where we have been doing this over the past few months on the site has really paid off, with some lovely wildflowers popping up, including salad burnet, meadow buttercup and hedge woundwort.

Pond planting

We first dug our wildlife pond back in 2019, however, due to the COVID outbreak, we have only just been able to plant it up. Fortunately, since it was dug some plants have already begun to establish themselves, including the beautiful yellow flag iris. To give it a helping hand, we put some pond plants in as well. This included bogbean, ragged robin, meadowsweet, wild angelica and all-important oxygenators, such as crowfoot. We can’t wait to see how they grow over the coming months.

Balsam bashing

Himalayan balsam is an invasive species that impact riparian habitats. One plant can produce around 800 seeds which are fired metres from the plant and carried downstream. While they provide food for bumblebees, once an individual feeds on that patch of balsam, it will no longer feed on other sources of food. Furthermore, the dense patches of balsam also out-compete native species, which reduces diversity along rivers. As the nature reserve we work on backs onto the Tolworth Brook, which feeds into the Hogsmill, our volunteers also got to work on bashing some of the dense patches of balsam that have formed, which is essential to do before flowers go to seed. This is essential work for the restoration of the river and dovetails with our water vole reintroduction project, Get InVOLEd, as ensuring a healthy river ecosystem is vital to their long term survival.

Check out the photos from our session below!

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