The Friends of Haddon Wood

Everything interesting we can think of about Alhampton's community woodland. To leave a comment on a post, click on its title and scroll down…

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We have Yellow Rattle!

Of the three elements the community requested be included in the wood, together with the orchard and the pond, the third is the hardest to achieve. Wild flowers don’t thrive on rich soil and we knew it wouldn’t be easy to establish colonies because the site has been used for stock grazing and silage for so long that the grass is just that. Of course we have got native species already – things like buttercup, clover and vetch – but the quantities of seed we sowed on the disturbed soil on the southern end of the pond flourished only that season, with one or two exceptions.

So, the answer, apparently, is to sow Yellow Rattle, to weaken the grass. We’ve done that a couple of times, along the hedgerow on the north side of F3 and either side of the eastern path in F2 – See the Gallery post, in the link above – but for the last couple of years have let things be to see what would happen, barring the odd grass cut to knock down any seed that was hanging on.

We’ve pretty much been told that we’re wasting our time, as the richness of the clay will override any partial effects the rattle might have, but bless it, even in the areas we didn’t oversow, it’s been back every year. It’s even appeared round the north end of the pond – I think, on its own – which completely bears out the poor soil theory, so there we are. It just goes to show that nature is a very determined thing.


The pond is complete …you can’t miss it!

Yes, it’s a pond that, at the moment, thinks it’s a reservoir …or at least that’s how it looks to me. I hasten to add, that isn’t a negative, more an observation.

I’ve been holding off from writing this post in the unrealistic hope that I’d be able to accompany it with an attractive picture, but that isn’t going to happen in the near future – at least at my skill level. Having said that, the topsoil, back in place round the edges and covering the banks, is starting to green up already, specially from a distance and committee members have scattered pond-specific wildflower seed around – quite a lot in fact, but we thought it worth raiding the budget for.

The great thing is that there’s water collecting in the bottom already, by now all round the island and filling the three deeper pools.

I say great thing and it is, because that’s the point after all, but what none of us took into account from the beginning – and it’s one that makes me more than grumpy – is that our wildlife pond would be adopted as a handy, regular swimming pond for dogs. This was never the idea and whilst we thought it possible that one or two might flop in to cool off occasionally in future years, it simply never occurred to us that, if we put up yards of tape and clear notices asking people to stay off the area – for goodness sake, the place is big enough without it! – while soil settled and seed germinated, that people would ignore the request and any possible reasons behind it and follow their own agenda. Naive? Obviously!

To be fair there have been only a few transgressors, probably not in the Friends group and who almost certainly won’t read this, but they have been regular and persistent and accompanied by the larger (and therefore more destructive) breeds.  If you see if happening, please feel free to have a word, if for no other reason than to find out why they do it. Personally, I don’t get it because apart from anything else the water is grey and smelly and will be unless and until it gets deeper – probably in the cold weather when no-one, canine or otherwise – feels much like swimming. But there you are. There will always be a few who have to be different.

It’s a shame because our wood is being enjoyed by increasing numbers of people, most of whom are brilliant in all other respects – picking up dog poo, pulling and cutting back thistles – but I’m guessing this will be a longer and more drawn out battle and I really don’t know how it will turn out. Perhaps a pair of particularly aggressive swans will take up residence on the island and repel all borders….