Greenkeeper's Update - August & September 2017

Summer is over and autumn upon us though it remains warm. This means leaves will hold on the trees longer but already there are a range of autumn colours around Barnes. The pond’s marginal plants are setting seed which will provide an important winter food source to ducks such as Shovelers, a regular winter visitor to the pond. The wildflower meadows have now largely been cut down with just a few patches of scabious and corn marigolds still flowering. In winter 50% of the meadows will be dug over and re-sown in spring. Most young birds have now fledged and one can currently see the two remaining cygnets building their flight muscles with the odd lap of the pond. The other 4 cygnets were removed to the Swan Sanctuary where they were treated for parasites which can slow their development. Hopefully, they will now be able to put on sufficient weight for the winter and fledge from the Sanctuary lake.

Other news includes the award of a silver gilt award for the Barnes In Bloom entry and another successful Food Fair. A few vehicles did get stuck on wet ground and cause some rutting which has now largely grown over. This did give rise to the new policy for events that when the ground is wet no vehicles will go within 15 metres of the Brook (the lowest and wettest area). The BCA have also purchased a new boat which will soon be in evidence as I start the seasonal pruning on the island. This new boat is designed to be stable enough to work from and can be used as a platform and punted or rowed. The old boat will become part of the new garden at the Castelnau community centre. Elsewhere, 3 extra waste bins have been added to the Green plus half a dozen sign posts in the meadows and pond edges for displaying signage and interpretation.

I have begun clearing the understorey along the Beverly Brook bank to increase light levels and create better conditions for marginal plants and river wildlife. This is the very beginning of what I hope will be a steady process of improvements along the Brook. The main aims will be to make it more accessible and safe for people and a richer habitat for wildlife. Preliminary meetings have been held with Environment Agency, South East Rivers Trust, and Friends of Barnes Common to examine feasibility of different works. These may include creating gentler gradients on the banks, using coir fibre planters and brash bundles to prevent erosion, installing flow diverters and a dog/child entry ramp, and possibly a gravel beach. A proposal will be published in due course, with the aim to carry out works in 2018.

Lastly, look out for the Bulb planting on Tuesday 31st October, 0930 start. Volunteers are sought to help plant 4000 bulbs along The Crescent hedgerow, just bring suitable clothing and footwear and, if possible, a spade. Hopefully see you there.

Green-KeeperSarah Sumpter