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CROW (Conserve Reading on Wednesdays)
Wednesday, 20th August 2014
Lower Southcote Allotments ~ Himalayan Balsam clearance

Having studiously declined a number of previous invitations to clear balsam from the site in the belief that there were other places where the need for it's removal was more pressing, we had finally succumbed. While it was obvious on our arrival that there was a considerable amount of balsam growing along the Holy Brook which forms part of the site's boundary, on the site itself there appeared to be relatively little, what there was being located around the pond.

Although giving the appearance of a tropical rain forest, this is the willow and reed near the pond's edge which contained the first of the balsam.

The enthusiasm of some knew no bounds and they crawled under the willow seeking to remove the smallest of plants.

As we continued in the belief that we would soon have all the balsam cleared, some started to cut back the willow which was shading the pond.

The interior of the bug hotel we had built on a visit to the site in April 2010 needed replenishing although the main structure - a collection of old pallets - remained in good condition.

Elsewhere the destruction continued.

In this slightly strange photo, the group appear to have acquired a cardboard cut-out of "old grey beard", the group's treasurer, which seems to be on the point of toppling over.

No, always well, got him upright again.

Nice smile!

As time progressed we came to realise that our original estimate regarding the amount of balsam was woefully inadequate and as elsewhere, it was to be found all the way along the bank of the Holy Brook or at least until it reached the poplar trees to be found at the far end of the site.

And so the task continued until three in the afternoon when the last of the balsam was removed, the final large patch being cut with the aid of a slasher rather than pulled. We do not expect this to be an end to the balsam on the site, the plants growing in the surrounding area will insure its return and some we pulled had already set seed which showered down on us as we worked. However if we do return next year we hope there will be considerably less.

A trail of devastation.

Thanks to all who joined us, Cathy, Diane, Judith, Trish, Alan, Chris, both John's, both Mike's and Terry.

Created: Monday, 25th August 2014
Photographs: Cathy Holwill