Thursday, 29 July 2010

Overwhelmed by Hats

If "Get ahead, get a hat" were true than Blashford would be "So far ahead, it's beautiful!". Today's volunteer task was pulling Himalayan balsam, or as it is also known, policeman's helmet. This invasive plant can dominate river banks to the exclusion of native species and so we are trying to remove it from along the Dockens Water to reduce the amount of seed that goes down stream and into the Avon. It was introduced as a garden plant and it is easy to grow and has large flowers coloured anything from almost white to purple and it could be regarded as beautiful, if it were not such a problem to native species. It is an annual and can grow over two metres high, after flowering the seeds explode from the pods and can be thrown two or three metres as well as floating well. Luckily it is easy to pull up and the seeds do not have long viability, so it should be controllable by pulling plants before they seed.

The balsam did not provide the only hat of the day though and the other was rather more welcome. In ploughing my way through the undergrowth after a clump of the alien I came across a large plant of skullcap, the first time I remember seeing it at Blashford. It also grows in marshy ground and has attractive blue flowers, although rather smaller than those of the balsam.
Birds that I saw were few, a common sandpiper and a black-tailed godwit on Ibsley Water were the best, although a mysterious report in the diary in the Tern hide referred to a goldeneye, summer records are few but not unprecedented, if there was one I could not find it.

1 comment:

  1. At least you seem to be able to control that invasive plant. We have not been that lucky with most of the invasive ones here.