Monday, 13 May 2013

Hempstead Meadow in May

An unexpected bonus of today's visit to the dentist was a walk through the Uckfield Town Council owned Hempstead Meadows Local Nature Reserve. I didn't have to go out of my way or take much time. I just swung through Waitrose car park and walked though to the Hempstead Lane playing fields.

Jack-by-the-hedge growing on the railway embankment.
As if to emphasise how close this little oasis of nature is to my normal working life, a London-bound train left just as I was walking through the reserve. It was partly screened by ash trees that were just starting to come into leaf and its emerald green Southern Rail livery contrasted with the fresh yellow greens of the surrounding spring foliage. Even so close to the train, I could see Jack-in-the-hedge, cuckoo flower, forget-me-nots and wild garlic.

Spring blossom.
There are so many other flowers to see now. Tiny jewel-like germander speedwell flowers vied for my attention with startling white greater stitchwort. The last of the king cups were fading out but there were plenty of buttercups and, I think, lesser spearwort, coming. The more subtle tones of ground ivy and crosswort added to the rich tapestry.

As I admired a clump of cuckoo flower growing in the stream, I noticed pond skaters and whirligig beetles on the water surface. Above birds flitted and twittered amongst the branches.

Wild garlic by the notice board, near Hempstead Lane playing fields.
The Uckfield news tells us that plans are afoot to tackle the pretty but thuggish Himalayan Balsam. A notice on the board says:

Task days will be held every Saturday morning in June,
from 9am to 1pm

If you want to help, you can come along to one of the task days and do as much or as little as you can. Meet at 9am Waitrose car park entrance to the reserve.

Full training will be given.

You can also support the Nature Reserve by coming along to the Advisory Committee's AGM on Thursday 6th June from 7.30pm, in the Green Room, Uckfield Civic Centre.

I hope to get along to some of the task days. It should be good fun and will help preserve the variety of damp-loving wild flowers by removing some of the Balsam.

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