Sunday, 22 April 2018

Spring has arrived on The Mound

This weekend the warm weather has brought out some of the flowers and insects in the Biodiversity Area.  The grass is about knee-high at most, and so it is possible to walk around the spiral maze.

The first trees to flower are the hazels, wild cherries, the elder and the rowan.  There is also some sloe blossom in the old hedge-bank.  The Pussy Willow catkins are good sources of nectar for bees.

Wild Cherry planted April 2014

Rowan planted April 2014

Goat Willow (Pussy Willow) 2016

Elder - existing hedgerow
I also saw a black ladybird with red spots (possibly a 2-spot), three Great Tits, a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, a wren, two brown Carder Bumblebees.  There are also a lot of Red Admiral caterpillars in their nettle tents.
Caterpillars hidden from predators inside their 'tents'

Some early flowers are dandelion, celandine, lady's smock - the food plant of the Orange Tip butterfly.  The leaves are opening on the Alder Buckthorn, but no sign of Brimstone butterfly eggs yet.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Keeping the grasses down 12 May 2017

Now that the grass has been topped, Maggie, Ian and I went up and spent a morning strimming (electric and petrol cutters) and scything by hand.

Maggie enjoyed the scything, while Ian and I had ear-defenders on due to the noise.

This will help to keep down the coarser grasses and creeping thistle and allow the trees some space.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Keeping the grass down - May 2017

We are very grateful to Chris and Gail who brought their tractor and topper to top the grass paths of the spiral maze today.  Without this help, it was difficult to see where the trees were growing. 

Grass Path - First Lap

Grass Paths - Lap One and Two

Grass Path - Lap Two
Top of the Mound - 2012 Trees - Lap Three
We will also use some brush-cutters to trim around the trees within their hedgerows later this week.  The ground is still rough, but at least we can walk round the spiral maze now.

Spring 2017

2012 Rowan in bloom

On Friday 28th April a group of us went to check on the trees and pull out some of the grasses from their base.  They have grown well already this Spring.  Some of the older trees from 2012 and 2014 are well above head-height.  I think the tallest Rowan is now 8 feet high.  One Rowan has its first flower-head.  Similarly the Red Dogwood has flowers.  These will provide pollen and nectar for insects and later on, berries for the birds.

2014 Red Dogwood with flower buds

We still have two Alder Buckthorn bushes, planted in 2013, which is the food-plant for the bright yellow Brimstone butterfly caterpillar.  This Spring there is no sign yet of any eggs or caterpillars on them.

Alder Buckthorn 2013

In a Biodiversity Area, plants considered as weeds in gardens, have a value.  The dandelions provide early nectar for bees, whereas the dandelion clocks provide seeds for goldfinches, which I have seen in our patch.
Dandelion clock

There are lots of Red Admiral butterfly caterpillars on the nettles, enclosed in their nettle 'tents' and I found an interesting brown spider asleep on a holly leaf - possibly an Orb spider.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Nearly there! Over 90 trees planted so far.

Another productive morning planting 30cm whips along the line of the Spiral Maze, filling in the gaps left last year.  These trees are part of the Centenary Woods in memory of the First World War.


Seven volunteers with me behind the camera!


To help the seven volunteers, I drew out a map of the design, so that we could see more clearly where we needed to plant.


Andrew also had the idea of tying tape to each cane, so that Roger will be able to see the line of trees, when he tops the grassy paths.  This has made it a lot clearer for us all to see where the hedgerow is.


Each cane now has a red and white flag

 As well as the 30cm whips, supplied by The Woodland Trust, we also planted Goat Willow and Red Dogwood cuttings.  If these survive they will help to fill out the rows, while the smaller ones are catching up.  


We found several caterpillars low down in the grass, showing just how mild a winter we are having, with hardly a frost yet.  One was the caterpillar of the Ringlet butterfly which breeds on this site.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

More trees planted today

First Tree Planting - another planned for next Sunday (13th December)

Well. the weather forecast was for mild, dry weather - but it started drizzly and then got heavier!

Nevertheless, three hardy volunteers stuck with it and we have planted 16 new trees in the wildlife area - hawthorn, silver birch, oak, rowan and blackthorn.

Graham from Winkleigh Parish Council watches Phil and Penny at work     

As these trees were given by The Woodland Trust to plant as a Centenary Wood in memory of those who served and died in the First World War, we were glad that 'Major Ron' of the Winkleigh branch of the British Legion, was also able to visit us.  He was very encouraging and fully supports what we are doing for our community, for future generations and in remembrance of our grandfather's generation.

I also took the opportunity to do some maintenance of a dozen or more trees which were planted in previous years.  Here is one of the first Oak trees which were planted on top of The Mound exactly three years ago in December 2012.  This one is about 4 feet high (1.2 metres).  They were planted to celebrate the Queens Jubilee.

Jubilee Oak 2012

Monday, 16 November 2015



in the

Wildlife Area behind the Sports Centre

Sunday 6th December and 13th December

10.00 onwards until midday

No previous experience necessary – all ages welcome!

Bring gloves, wellies, and spades if possible.

For further information: Kim J Melhuish (via Facebook)

Trees donated by the Woodland Trust to commemorate the First World War