Friday 23rd February, Thursday 8th & Friday 10th March 2018
Our volunteers have been working on the restoration of an ancient hedgerow on the edge of the Three Score housing development in Bowthorpe. The hedgerow borders both sides of a grass track which was probably used by drovers moving cattle between Bowthorpe Hall farm to grazing areas on Bowthorpe marshes. The open land either side of the hedge was once farmland but has remained untouched for some years. The eastern side of the track is earmarked for housing and over the next decade will steadily take over the area. The western side will remain as an open amenity area with wild flower meadows and paths. On this side there is also a large balancing pond created to take excess surface water from the proposed housing area and this is gradually being colonised by wildlife.
What was probably once a hedge has matured into a line of overgrown hedging trees thickly covered in ivy. Over a period of three days our Volunteers cut back the ivy, coppiced and low pollarded sections of the hedgerow, removed fallen trees and planted up gaps within this.
Work started at the end of February with our Friday group cutting back the ivy and clearing a way through the path. Matt pollarded the larger trees opening up the hedgerow. A lot of ivy was cut back from the trees and was stacked ready for burning. The sudden arrival of winter and heavy snow at the beginning of March meant that our volunteers had a few days off.
We re-grouped last week with our Thursday team continuing the cutting back but also burning the piles of material left from the previous visit. The track was already starting to look much better. The area between the rows is now opened up and light is getting in from the reduced foliage. Paula pollarded the larger trees and other team members cut back the ivy on some others. Not all ivy was removed since this provides great habitat for birds and insects throughout the seasons. Keith cut back growth along the track with the brush cutter. Whips were planted in the new gaps in the hedgerow.
The cut material was burned. The fire was slow to start and never really got going fiercely but we cleared most of the brash from the lower end of the site. The material was probably too wet from being covered in snow for a week and the very cold and wet weather also suppressed the fire. It was nice to hear the ivy leaves crackling as they quickly caught fire and floated off into the sky.
Our Friday group under supervision of Matt D and Matt H carried on burning the material at the lower end of the site and a new fire site was started at the top end. There was a huge pile of cut material here and we didn’t think we would get through it all that day – but we did, of course! The fire burned a lot more fiercely on this bright and dry day.
We continued working along the hedgerow cutting back the ivy and pollarding more trees. One of the ways to deal with the ivy is to cut out a large section of this so that it eventually dies off in the tree canopy. This stops the ivy overwhelming the tree and falling over. More trees were planted, and a litter pick cleared much of the rubbish around the site.
On both days our tea breaks were a bit of a cake fest with big jammy dodgers from Keith and flapjacks from Paula on Thursday. (Keith said that he had made these under supervision – he has certificates for brush cutters and mowers and other kit but apparently not yet got his licence to operate a cake mixer or oven!) On Friday it was tasty cheese jacks from Liz (her recipe is on the Fringe Blog site) and moreish marshmallow crispy cakes from Rebecca. How do we all remain so slim?
After three days work the track was looking good. Our clearance work had made a big difference and future conservation management will keep it in good order. We will visit again soon to deal with the upper section of the hedgerow.