Wapley Bushes Local Nature Reserve, near Yate and Chipping Sodbury, South Gloucestershire.

The Nature Reserve is run by the Wapley Bushes Conservation Group, a small group of volunteers.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Harvesting the meadow

Part of our haul of rattle seed
Four of us spent a couple of hours at Wapley on Wednesday collecting hay rattle (yellow rattle) seeds. This plant has large seeds, and if you pick the seed pods when they have dried and shake them, you can hear the seeds rattle.

Rattle is an interesting plant - it's a hemi-parasite. It has green leaves that can photosynthesise, but it can tap into grass roots and draw nutrient from them, which weakens the grass.

Up at the top of the Lower Meadow we have an area where the grass is so vigorous that few wildflowers can take hold. Our idea is that by sowing small patches of rattle there we can weaken the grass and encourage species diversity. It'll be an interesting experiment - we're starting to play with GPS to record where we do things like this.

We're also wondering whether hay rattle can feed off the root systems of the invasive plant meadowsweet - perhaps this could be a way of bringing it more under control.

In more news from the reserve, the areas that were seeded after they were damaged by vehicles turning are showing a lovely crop of annuals - the perennials will come along later.

The patch at the bridge end of the Common, on the orchard side
 In the cottages part of the orchard, the climbing rose that we trained up the dead plum tree has shot upwards, and is now in bloom.

Please come and join us at our work morning this Sunday (12 July) - meet at 10.00 am at the Shire Way gate for a couple of hours of light stoned fruit tree pruning and general maintenance tasks. As usual there will be something for everyone. Please wear suitable footwear and bring gloves if you have them.

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