Meadow Park Diary Update

Meadow Park

The Park Diary. A short account of the activities of the Friends of Meadow Park.

Severn Trent pipeline through Meadow Park Update

Severn Trent Water Authority is in the process of upgrading waste water provision for East Leake, Willoughby-on-the-Wolds and Wysall. On 16th February, Alan Barlow, a FoMP committee member attended a meeting with representatives from STWB, a rep from Fisher German (the land agents overseeing the work), Chris Garbett ELPC, EL Parish Clerk, and EL groundsman to find out about the proposed work and its impact on Meadow Park. The pumps at Gotham Road pumping station will be replaced to increase the flow handling capacity. In autumn this year work will start on laying a new pipe from the Gotham Road pumping station to the water treatment facility on West Leake Road, which is currently being enlarged and upgraded. The new pipe will be placed parallel to the existing pipe which will remain in situ and used as a ‘back up’ pipe for removal of waste water, being flushed through on a regular basis to keep it operational. The new pipe will be made of a plastic material (the old one is of metal) and will be able to withstand greater pressure and therefore able to pump at double the rate of the existing pipe. The diameter of the new pipe will be 355mm (the diameter of the existing pipe is 255mm). The pipe will be 4m below ground and at least 1.4m below the water course of Sheepwash Brook. Land drains should not be affected at this depth. The work site/conduit will be 15-20m wide and enclosed with Heras fencing. Top soil/spoil will be taken off site.

More recently three bore holes have been dug in the park, one by the railway tunnel, one near Stone Bridge and one in the playing field area.  Each bore hole will remain in place for about twelve weeks and be fenced off.

July 2024

July was a very busy month for Friends of Meadow Park. Work continued on the shrubbery and all paths were made clear of brambles and blackthorn. The Bateman Road path and the Hall Field circuit were particularly time consuming. Some of the trees in the Arboretum had growth around their base and this needed cutting to ensure the trees stay sturdy. The tree poppers recently acquired came into good use in removing suckers growing around the poplar trees and in the copses. The willow tunnel near the Bateman Road entrance was pruned and shaped.

June 2024

On Saturday 8th June we had a busy work day focusing on a general tidy up. Volunteers walked along the path and cut back excess growth of hawthorn, blackthorn and bramble.

The work on the shrubbery continued. We had a stall at the village carnival on 22nd June and recruited twelve new members/families. Some wooden picnic tables were painted.

May 2024

We had a very busy morning on Saturday 11th May. The tasks included fence repairs adjacent to the Bateman Road gate and the fitting of post and iron work for restraining the gate. A donated bat box was fitted to a suitable tree near the gate and some remedial work was carried out in the Arboretum. The willow tunnel was pruned and additional lengths of willow woven in to strengthen the structure. A separate group of five worked on the shrubbery, particularly focused of digging up the invasive ground elder. Altogether it proved to be a successful morning. Later in May ad hoc work parties replaced the gravel under various seats, started renovating the metal benches, checked the trees in the Arboretum and continued work on fences and hedges.

Lastly, and very sadly, we have to report two more trees have been stripped of their bark. This is in the area of the log circle used by Forest School children from Lantern Lane and Brookside. The young teenagers (boys) who did the damage were stopped by Mel, but came back later to continue when no one was around. Sadly the trees will die.

 

We are now a Local Wild Life Site May 2024

In May this year Meadow Park was designated a ‘Local Wildlife Site’. Local Wildlife sites are    recognised in the National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF), which gives them some protection from being developed. A local ecologist organised the work needed to establish the criteria. The citation states Meadow Park is an ‘amenity park with areas of relict grassland’. Basically it is a remnant lowland meadow, a priority habitat under the UK's Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP).

Since our very beginnings in 2002 we have managed the grassland to support wildlife; more varied grassland with a range of shorter and longer grass across the six fields, reducing the total area of closely mown grass, and making some more meadow-like areas with longer grass. A range of short and longer grass is better for wildlife, and wildflowers can be encouraged to grow and seed in the grass by mowing later in the year. Removing longer grass cuttings stops plants being smothered and soils becoming too nutrient-rich. It removes nutrients, lowers soil fertility, and prevents a ‘thatch’ of dead grass developing.

April 2024

In April thirteen saplings, comprising a mixture of alder, rowan, holly and fruit trees were planted in Stonebridge Field. In time these will grow to medium sized trees and attract more birds and butterflies to the park. The trees will also grow to give form to the field edge and more effective shielding from Gotham Road. The shrubbery was tidied up and some light pruning around the park was done.

March 2024

The work party on 9th March was very busy with one group working on making a bee world near the Bateman Road entrance – turf removal, digging and sowing seed; another group working in Stonebridge copses opening up the area for ground cover growth, planting primroses and honeysuckle; and a third group working on the entrance to Playfield to Little Meadow, opening up the access for equipment to mow Playfield.

Maintenance of pathways in the park January & February 2024

Friends of Meadow Park applied to British Gypsum’s Community Projects for a donation of £2,000 to assist in the upkeep of the park, contributing to the improvement of vital paths that had suffered significant damage in the aftermath of the 2019 floods and the greater footfall during Covid. East Leake Parish Council contributed most of the money for the project (£8,000). The repair project, costing around £10,000 in total, involved scraping the existing surface, increasing the width to 1.2 metres and adding Type 2 limestone gravel to enhance the height. The paths were then top dressed to create a durable surface. Sadly there had been further flooding since this work and some damage has been done. We are considering how best to deal with the problem of flooding in the future.

On Friday February 23rd children from Lantern Lane planted ten primroses, ten honeysuckle, two foxgloves and some dog violets in the Stonebridge copses. Kevin Gibbons organised the plants and Lisa Kandola led the children in the planting of them. Lantern Lane had a ‘kindness day’ and visited local businesses/organisations to say thank you and to chat with people running them. Meadow Park was one of the visits they scheduled, hence the planting session. They also gave out thank you cards. Year on year the park gets more colourful with a variety of flowers, shrubs and grasses growing in greater quantity.

Lastly, we need to thank our dedicated litter pickers. You would be amazed at what they find!

The green climber
The green climber
The green climber

February 2024

As the weather for the scheduled work party in February looked pretty grim we moved the day to the first Saturday (3rd) and we had a lovely day with warmish sunshine as work on the two Stonebridge copses continued. If you have time to take a look you will see some extension to the dead hedging and further clearing of low growing trees/shrubs. The hedging will created a barrier for dogs and allow small mammals to be better protected. The opening up of the area will allow more light to get in and ground cover plants, as well as snowdrops and bluebells to thrive.

This is a photo of Andy Kemp (Feb 3rd) using our new ‘tree popper’ which is an implement to uproot saplings that are growing in the wrong place or too close together or to tackle deep rooted, strong stemmed weeds. We bought it with donations and it has really been a boon to our planned work. We are thinking of buying another as it is so useful.

The green climber
The green climber

January 2024

The first scheduled working party of 2024 was on January 13th and work continued on the two Stonebridge copses, removing blackthorn re-growth and generally tidying up the two areas. It was a cold day but a good number of volunteers turned up for the work.

On 31st January we had the use of a mechanised strimmer to cut back the scrub and some sections of hedgerow and volunteers helped remove and re-site the resulting debris. The aim was to ensure pathways are clear for walkers and that boundaries are kept in check.

The green climber

Summary of our AGM held in November 2023

In November we held our annual AGM with the usual series of reports being presented.

Chairman Kevin Gibbons noted what a busy year it had been for Meadow Park. The three-yearly Management Plan was reviewed and updated with RBC and ELPC. The main changes were to the grass cutting regimes so that alongside the annual hay cut the Arboretum and Stonebridge Field will remain uncut on alternate years. The Green Climber was used in the park for a full day in October to tackle the encroaching scrub in selected areas such as Hall Field, the boundary with The Burrows and parts of Stonebridge Field. The butterfly leaflet produced by Diana Jones and Mary Mays has been very well received. New signs have been funded by RBC. Challenges for 2024 include the work that will be undertaken in the park to facilitate the new pumping station. Some funding will be provided to Meadow Park and we will spend it wisely.

Andy Denker, Treasurer, noted some generous gifts to the park. Lantern Lane School gave £100 towards the updating of the log circle and British Gypsum gave £2,000 towards the maintenance of the pathways and a further £200 to the Strollers so that leaders could be trained and insured.

Arboretum report by Andy Denker: Three trees (sweet chestnut, downy birch and wild pear) donated by Shirley Fox have been planted in the arboretum. Sadly the alder died but the other trees are doing well, helped by the wet summer. The grass in the Arboretum was cut in late September and will be cut biannually.

Forest School goes from strength to strength. The silver birch planted by Year 6 near their work area is doing well. Volunteers source materials for den building, willow weaving etc and the children are delighted with the new log circle.

The hours worked by volunteers reached a record high with over 800 hours recorded in both scheduled and unscheduled work parties. Jobs in the park are varied from the heavier tree planting and hedge laying to the lighter planting of bulbs and sowing seeds – there is something for everyone to turn their hand to.

Wild Flowers are monitored by Gwen Mountain. She counted 119 different species in 2023 with two new comers, hesperis or sweet rocket in the Play Field hedge and dark mullein growing on the butterfly bank. A further sighting of dropwort and pepper saxifrage, both relatively recent additions, was very pleasing. Gwen welcomes information from fellow park users to keep her lists up to date.

The butterfly report by Brian Johnson noted that all the regular 21 species of butterfly were recorded during their different flight periods. He took photographs on each of his 24 visits. In August we had a rare visitor to the park, the white-letter hairstreak, this was sighted and photographed by Kevin Gibbons. The speckled wood has increased in numbers and can be seen in many areas of the park, it thrives in partially shaded areas where dappled sunlight can break through trees. There are now many such areas in the park which allows this, where tree branches have been cut back, and passages widened. The holly blues, common blues and the meadow butterflies have also done well, whereas the small tortoiseshell and peacock not so. In terms of moths, we saw the day flying chimney sweep moths and six spot burnet moths in reasonable numbers. The later hay cut this year certainly gave the relevant wildlife a boost.

Meadow Park Strollers, led by Anne Rippon, reported a healthy number of people turning up for a stroll of about half an hour and a coffee afterwards. A longer walk is often available which takes a route under the railway bridge and out onto West Leake Road. Everyone is welcome, so if you are interested turn up at the millstone sculpture at 1.30pm on Thursdays – in good weather. More information from Anne on 07913 328 971

November & December 2023

The weather for the scheduled working morning on 11th November was very pleasant and much was achieved.  Volunteers planted 400 bluebells and 400 snowdrops in the Forest School to brighten up that area.

The green climber
The green climber
The green climber

We also cutback some of the overgrown bushes near the Bateman Road entrance as it was difficult to gain access with the machinery for the hay cut in late summer. The hazel has been coppiced and the litter pick is ongoing.

The main pathways through the park were repaired in October, just before the heavy rain. Some minor repairs have been made as the rain caused some damage.

October 2023

The green climber was in the Park Tuesday 3rd October. This is an impressive machine that is operated by remote control and can attack scrub at unbelievable angles making it possible to have a more open and varied habitat suitable for a larger number of species. The green climber cut back the scrub near the boundary with The Burrows, the edges of Stonebridge Field and cleared all of Hall Field.

The green climber

Other specific areas were tackled here and there in the park. It was a busy day and much was achieved, helped by the very pleasant weather.

The work party on 14th October mainly carried out work on the northern boundary of the park where, after a visit from the Green Climber, extra cut back of the Stonebridge path hedge, the fence line and entrance at The Burrows was completed. The Forest School area was tidied up and some random fly tipping taken away. The usual litter pick was carried out.

The maintenance on two paths in the park was completed just before the heavy rains set in and some minor repairs were needed. Funding for this project has mainly come from ELPC but we also received a very generous donation from British Gypsum Community and Charitable Support Fund. We are grateful for their support.

Break cut near the railing in The Burrows

September 2023

The meadows were mown on 7th September this year and the wild flowers had seeded by then so we hope for a good showing next year.

The working morning on 9th September was extremely how so ended slightly early. Some weeding was done in the shrubbery along with some light pruning of shrubs close to pathways and briars cut back. The usual litter pick was undertaken. The willow bed in Gibson’s Field was harvested and the possibility of a willow seat was investigated.

A vole rescued in the Arboretum cut

Forest School resumed on Monday 11th September with a full day of activities and they appreciated their new log and plank circle, which was more comfortable than the previous logs, being slightly higher to sit on. So far this year the number of hours worked by volunteers is 628.5 (as of mid-September). We are very fortunate to have a fantastic, loyal set of volunteers.

The grass in the Arboretum was cut on Tuesday 26th September. A group of volunteers were around for the morning and rescued a number of voles, frogs and toads. The magpies came down and alerted the volunteers to the location of some of these and they were scooped up and taken to the long grass in the margins. It all served to illustrate the importance of leaving some areas uncut to enable wildlife to flourish. The hay was gathered up and taken away on 4th October. In all about four loads were taken away.

August

Over the first months of this year Gwen Mountain has been counting the flower species in the park and the total is just under a hundred. Yellow rattle is helping maintain the flower rich grass land. The number of flowers from the sowing of wild seed in 2022 was very low probably because of the dry, hot conditions last year. However the bulbs planted in 2021 and 2022 produced good quantities of flowers, especially snowdrops and bluebells. The meadows may well have been cut by the time you read this and this year’s weather has been more favourable for plants setting seed etc so we hope for a good show of wild flowers next year.

Kevin Gibbons photographed a White Letter Hairstreak butterfly in the park in August. This species has only ever been seen in the park fourteen years ago! See photo.

Nest boxes in the park have had a good take up (as usual) with full occupancy. Over the years we have increased the number of boxes and intend to continue increasing the number as they are in high demand.

Tasks undertaken in the park in July included work on the Forest School area, weeding the shrubbery, trimming back brambles and branches and the usual litter pick.

June & July 2023

July

Tasks undertaken in the park in July included work on the Forest School area, weeding the shrubbery, trimming back brambles and branches and the usual litter pick.

June

Work in the park in June was mainly about tidying up with branches overhanging pathways being cut back, some light pruning and a trim to the willow structure by the Bateman Road entrance. Some work was carried out on the top path in the Arboretum. We have a limestone mound on the edge of Playfield and have planted bird’s foot trefoil, rock rose and kidney vetch to attract some different species of butterfly. Volunteers worked hard on this patch in June. We had a stall at the Carnival.

April 2023

The brash from the hedge making was taken away and either woven into existing dead hedges or used in the wooded areas around the park. The regular working party in April had a busy time planting native bluebells and single snowdrops in Sculpture Alley, putting a grit layer under a number of seats and adding wood chipping to the entrance path on Hall Field. Some work was also carried out on the limestone bank, along with the usual litter pick with special attention given to the brook and the railway tunnel. Many glass and plastic bottles were retrieved.

Volunteers replaced the log circle used by Forest School children in readiness for the summer term. The old circle had lasted a long time but was gradually rotting away. The new design will enable the children to sit more comfortably to eat their lunch and plan their activities. Also using the log circle (which is near the Bateman Road entrance to the park) will be a new group, Tree Babies. This is a group for parents with babies from birth to pre-walking. They are meeting on Tuesday mornings 9.45 till 11 am. To find out more visit their website: www.blossomand bond.co.uk

Two committee members have worked on a leaflet about the butterflies you may see in the park. It is in A4 format folded into three for easy use and will be printed by local company Thistlebank. It has pictures of the butterflies with a little information about each one. We hope children will want to visit the park and find out more about the wildlife they can encounter on their doorsteps. Copies in Mel’s shop, the library, the Parish Office and will be downloadable from the village website (see the page minutes, meeting and reports and it is under the documents section).

May 2023

In May some of the most damaged paths were repaired as an interim measure while the committee awaits quotes from companies to undertake more extensive repairs. However, it was thought best to target the paths most in need of maintenance as the park is on a flood plain and every so often paths are eroded in wet weather.

A variety of tasks was undertaken in May included cutting the grass under seats, fitting ground grab tiles under some of the seats, moving the wood chip from the Bateman Road gate to the entrance path in Hall Field and removing the remaining Russian Vine (mostly new growth) from the Bateman Road bank. Some weeding was done in the shrubbery and stalwart volunteers continued with the litter picking.

The Forest School pupils like their new log circle, which is more comfortable for their picnic before they start work. Leaflets about the park have been distributed by the three primary schools in the village and we intend to have a stall at East Leake carnival on 24th June. We are hoping to attract some new members.

The park looked very colourful in May after a lot of rain, with an   abundance of wild flowers. Meadow Park is certainly a great asset to the village.

 

April 2023

The brash from the hedge making was taken away and either woven into existing dead hedges or used in the wooded areas around the park. The regular working party in April had a busy time planting native bluebells and single snowdrops in Sculpture Alley, putting a grit layer under a number of seats and adding wood chipping to the entrance path on Hall Field. Some work was also carried out on the limestone bank, along with the usual litter pick with special attention given to the brook and the railway tunnel. Many glass and plastic bottles were retrieved.

Volunteers replaced the log circle used by Forest School children in readiness for the summer term. The old circle had lasted a long time but was gradually rotting away. The new design will enable the children to sit more comfortably to eat their lunch and plan their activities. Also using the log circle (which is near the Bateman Road entrance to the park) will be a new group, Tree Babies. This is a group for parents with babies from birth to pre-walking. They are meeting on Tuesday mornings 9.45 till 11 am. To find out more visit their website: www.blossomand bond.co.uk

Two committee members have worked on a leaflet about the butterflies you may see in the park. It is in A4 format folded into three for easy use and will be printed by local company Thistlebank. It has pictures of the butterflies with a little information about each one. We hope children will want to visit the park and find out more about the wildlife they can encounter on their doorsteps. Copies in Mel’s shop, the library, the Parish Office and will be downloadable from the village website (see the page minutes, meeting and reports and it is under the documents section).

Work in the Park January to the end of March 2023

Small working groups prepared the ground for hedge laying and dug large holes for the new trees in the Arboretum. The work was weather dependant and had to be organised around the freezing conditions which persisted in the early months of this year. Newly moved trees and spliced branches would have struggled in the very cold weather. The working morning scheduled for 14th January was moved to 21st January because of the cold snap. A good number of volunteers turned up and cleared Russia Vine from the Bateman Road boundary. It is an on-going job as this pernicious weed is hard to eradicate. When the vine was cleared spring bulbs were uncovered and gave a good display of snowdrops and daffodils.

By the end of February the new trees (alder, sweet chestnut, downy birch) had been planted in the Arboretum. Hedge laying between Gibson and Bateman Fields was a huge undertaking and looks very impressive.  A large number of volunteers worked for hours on this project. These hedges are making a big difference to the quantity and variety of wild life we see in the park. A fungus, the Scarlet Elf Cup, was found on a branch during the work. Our aim is to continue with hedge laying where appropriate and to manage the variety of hedges in the park sensitively. Some will be higher and wider than others.

The committee updated the management plan for the grass paths mown diagonal across the meadows. These have seemed quite wide and could be made narrower in future. The limestone gravel paths are quite costly and labour intensive to maintain so we are considering what best to do.

There was a lot of blossom in the park in March and April. Flowering currant, blackthorn and apple trees are in various locations in the park. Wild flowers began to grow in profusion – we had a very good display of cowslips in late March through to early May. Some butterflies made their appearance in March, notably peacocks, speckled woods and small tortoiseshell. Robins and chaffinches began to lay their eggs and we had several nests in the park. Typically robins lay their eggs twenty days earlier than chaffinches. Blackbirds, blue tits and the occasional thrush were also spotted. Insect life included bumble bees and ladybirds.

The existing hedges in Meadow Park

Since the founding of Meadow Park in 2002 a number of hedges have been layed. Initially Rushcliffe Borough Council planted hedges and copses in a number of places in the park. For instance Play Field hedge boundary was hawthorn/dog rose/ash/apple, whereas the hedge opposite it was given over to blackthorn. The Arboretum copses are mainly blackthorn. Hall Field hedge is mainly hawthorn/blackthorn/apple/dog rose/bramble. The Oak Meadow hedge which we have recently layed is a mixture of dog rose/field maple/hawthorn and dog wood. The Stonebridge copses are mainly blackthorn. Volunteers have continued to lay hedges (as opposed to planting them) and to maintain existing hedges as necessary and as time allows. When gaps appear in hedges we have added hazel whips. Volunteers have continued laying hedges over the years and these include Hall Field and Play Field boundary, Stonebridge copse alley, Oak Meadow boundary and various parts of Arboretum copses boundary. Our latest hedge laying has just been completed and runs along the Bateman Field Gibson Field boundary.