Grounds and Green Team  Autumn Report

September to November 2016

I’m not sure what to start with! We’ve seen hugely valuable additions to the team; we’ve managed to amalgamate “grounds” and “green”; we’ve [almost!] finished the mammoth hedge laying and all that that entails at Summerhill; we’ve planted 1000 crocuses; we’ve planted 450 saplings from The Woodland Trust; we’ve had superb help from Queen’s Croft School’s Duke of Edinburgh Award students.

In 2015, the Grounds Team generally comprised 3 of us; by now, we’re regularly 7 or 8, and that’s not counting Dave Dwyer who works midweek at Tamworth Road keeping it tidy and also joining the civil engineering parties.  Of the new regulars, 3 are previously Green team members but who now turn out weekly rather than “as and when” (thanks, Hilary, Aileen and Patsy). New members have joined, too (Paul Haddock, Connie Benson and Pat Gardner). Our only requirement is that folk come with waterproofs, wellies, wit and pyromaniac tendencies!

Most of our time has been at Summerhill, where Roger’s been on a mission to complete the taming of the hedge that had been untouched for 60 years. Following on from last winter’s hedge laying, Roger set the team to trimming the stupendous growth that had sprouted, as planned (hoped for!),  on last year’s 500m of laid hedge, then thinning out the wayward and intertwined hawthorns of the remaining 500m so that completing the hedge laying was easier (that’s relatively speaking!) than our first run last year.

Hedge laying is a winter activity: one starts when the sap has stopped rising (end October), and finishes before the birds start nesting and the sap starts rising (say, February). It’s therefore a cold job! But, happily it requires lovely bonfires! Despite talking about jacket potatoes, sausages and marshmallows we’ve never managed to remember to bring them!

Right now, the hedge laying is due to finish  December 3rd. And we’re indebted to our Staffordshire Wildlife Trust representative, Hayley, for giving us a day’s training on  November 5th. (More on that here). Following on from Hayley’s 4th place in the National Competitions she was invited to Prince Charles’s Highgrove Estate to do more... so we were truly honoured!


Also at Summerhill, the team has planted most of the 450 saplings donated by The Woodland Trust – the remaining oaks and hawthorns are being nurtured by Roger and Jean ready for planting next year when we know where they’re most needed.

Now that the Grounds/Green Team has expanded, we were able to put several days work in to Fosseway in readiness for the Charity Dog Walk. For this, Dave Dwyer and a lovely young man, Josh, helped us enormously: Dave soldiered on with the wheeled strimmer and a very damaged shoulder; Josh worked assiduously but probably wondered how he’d become press-ganged by two old ladies!

And the age gap doesn’t finish there: since 27 September we’ve been hugely helped by volunteers from Queen’s Croft School. Of the school’s 16-18 year olds, 12 are doing Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and have opted to do their volunteering with us. They come each Tuesday morning with 2 teachers, and they are a delight! David Hancock, Patsy Wilson, Aileen Salter and I are variously engaged with their efforts. Their efforts have included clearing Pound 25 on Tamworth Road, planting the crocus bulbs donated following Lichfield in Bloom along Borrowcop Lane Canals Park, doing a partial inventory of tools in the Tamworth Road Container and seeding the top of the batter at Tamworth Road with a meadow mix of grass and flowers. Despite its having been a bit risky to seed in November, there’s now a lovely show of tiny green shoots, and we look forward to seeing grass next year and flowers which bloom through Spring and Summer.

So, not only are we enhancing the “green corridor” for the future (and the bee scrapes and bird  and bat boxes that were done earlier in the year by Foresters Scout Group members need acknowledging) we’re also benefiting from giving all these young people from our community valuable experience.

Where next? Probably Fosseway ..... more next time!

Christine Bull

Environment Matters   2016  Issue 4

Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust

Burning last year’s off-cuts.

Aileen Salter and Jean Barnett.

A well earned lunch break.

Hayley Dorrington instructing the team.

Hilary Smith and Connie Benson planting saplings from the Woodlands Trust at Summerhill.

Queen’s Croft School’s Duke of Edinburgh Award students seeding the top batter at Tamworth Road.

Before hedge laying

After hedge laying

On the Dog Walk - approaching Lock 18 at  Fosseway.

Clearing scrub on December 3rd.