Yep – it’s the digging and ditching season. A great workout for us Heath Hands-ers before spring and the weeds really get going and we are back down on our hands and knees doing battle with the chickweed, the bindweed, the ground elder, the enchanter’s nightshade and the creeping buttercups.
So, job number 1 – ditching along Millfield Lane.
This was relatively painless and just involved digging out the soft hummus and dead leaves that had accumulated in the ditches that we had dug out last year. A lot harder work was creating this ditch down the meadow below the Old Orchard Garden to the wet area at the edge. This is what it looked like at the end….
….with the water trickling down to the bottom. But when we got there all the water which is now pooled at the bottom of the ditch was pooled at the top. So we had to dig a channel going from the bottom up to the pool and then ‘break through’ so that the water could run down. This sounds very exciting and Terri got the job of making the break through but – as you can see – it was extremely hard work!
Next up – rescuing the fallen oak
Well, not rescuing as obviously this guy in Highgate Woods is way beyond our help. But the rangers felt that if we could cover its exposed roots in soil, maybe some of them would survive and something interesting could happen. However, this did involve digging up a lot of beautifully wormy humus from about half a mile away and trucking it over. Not a problem had not the tree, for its own protection, been surrounded by a wire fence. So the soil had to be dumped on the outside of the fence, then shovelled over the fence into a wheelbarrow from which it could be decanted around the tree roots and then shovelled in amongst the roots.
Yes, it was jolly hard work so are you surprised that some of us felt that the British workman had a point when he leaned on his spade to watch…. Hope the tree appreciates it.
Loggin’ and hedgin’
Our last muscle wrenching job was also in Highgate Woods. Some serious tree work had been done by the rangers leaving us with some man size branches to weave into the fence protecting the wild flower area. Here is Cindy weilding the chain saw – sadly Health and Safety means that we volunteers are not allowed to play with that toy.
But first, of course, the branches needed to be lugged as far as the hedge….
…. and then woven into the existing hedge. The object is to make the hedges sufficiently dense to deter both dogs and humans from breaking through to create a short cut across the woods – and destroying the wild flowers on their way.
On this session our hard work was not only rewarded with tea and biscuits, but with some delightful bird watching.
In the hedge behind our log two male robins, totally ignoring us boring humans, were wooing a lady robin. This involved a good deal of fluffing out of feathers and strutting and dancing in front of her – interspersed with a number of robin-shaped bouts of fisticuffs with each other.
My phone was far too elderly to catch them but this is what they looked like. And half an hour later when we knocked off, they were still at it!
And just so that you know, this is what we were trying to protect from intruding boots and paws.