Thistles and Reeds
Wednesday, July 3rd 2019
In the hay meadow amongst the wildflowers were hundreds of thistles and although they are a valuable source of nectar for many insects, they are prolific on the reserve and if every one were left to go to seed then they would take over all of the habitats! In the sweep netting area they are a particular nuisance as they snag on the sweep nets too. The best way to remove them is by pulling them out by hand much to the delight of the Foxglove staff and volunteers!
Fire gauntlets provide great protection from the prickles.
Pupils from the Dales School came along to see what was going on and to lend a hand with the sacks and wheelbarrow.
Although a tedious task, it was lovely to spend a sunny morning in the hay meadow which really is teeming with life. A large Hawker dragonfly and a Common Blue butterfly were observed along with many bumblebees. A Kestrel family flew overhead too.
At lunchtime, an odd delivery arrived at the centre; three boxes full of Phragmites australis also known as Common Reed.
They were for planting along the banks of the newly created wetland, Spigot Mere. Once grown, the reeds will provide some shelter for wildlife from the prevailing wind.
They were planted in a zigzag line along the water's edge. The plugs were put in 50cm apart and had to be 2cm beneath the surface.
Gerry (being the only sensible person to wear wellies), had the important job of tamping down the soil around the reeds to remove any air pockets and make sure they were compacted in!
By the end of the day a third of the plants were in and it is just possible to imagine what they will be like in a few years time.
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