Friends of Middle Street Meadow
A ‘Friends’ group has been formed to help care for the meadow and to carry out some management tasks. The group is supported by Salisbury City Council Parks Department.
Friends of Middle Street Meadow - Newsletter September 2022
After last year’s wet summer, we have now had the longest drought since 1976, the British weather is certainly varied and unpredictable! This has led to impacts on wildlife and challenges for the Parks Department when managing open spaces such as the Middle Street Meadow.
The grass has become tinder dry and this has created a fire risk causing concern to those living in surrounding properties. The Meadow continues to attract more and more visitors including young people from around the city. More people are using the river for recreation and enjoying the natural environment but there are others who have caused problems with the lighting of fires and the use of disposable barbecues. This led to the Council’s decision to ban barbecues and to bring forward the cutting of some areas of long grass close to properties. The wildflowers and grasses had already set seed so this was fine and we welcomed the decision. The remainder of the grass on the south side of the flood bank will be cut at the usual time in late September or October.
The drought and heat led to the flowering season of wildflowers being over earlier than usual which can have an impact on butterfly populations the following year but there has been an abundance of other pollinating insects. Mike and I have continued to do butterfly counts each week, some new species have turned up such as Chalk Hill Blue, although others have been absent or reduced in number. The newly planted wildflower area behind the bench by the river has done well but also produced some unwelcome re-growth of bramble, dock and sow thistle, probably from the seed bed already existing in the ground under the dense bramble we removed last winter.
There has been more evidence of Ash dieback in the trees along Middle Street, these will be inspected by the Parks department and appropriate action taken. As a number of other species have been planted over the years removal of the Ash, if necessary, will not have a huge impact on the tree cover along the boundary.
The invasive Himalayan Balsam in the reedbeds has been minimal this year, either because we have had an impact over the last 3-4 years of removing it or the drought has reduced its abundance. Mike has been able to remove any plants that have grown singlehandedly so he hasn’t needed to call for assistance from the group.
We led a guided walk for the Harnham Community Network on the 9th July, it was a hot day but still attracted 12 people who were very interested and supportive of the work the Friends do in the meadow. After the walk we joined the Saturday ‘Coffee and Chat’ at the Parish Hall.
The 2022-23 winter season of work days will start in early October following the usual pattern of alternate Saturday and Friday mornings:
Dates until Christmas:
Saturday 8th October
Friday 11th November
Saturday 10th December
Time: We will be in the meadow from 9.30 am and finish at 12.30. Please come anytime that suits you.
We borrow some tools form the Friends of Harnham Slope but extra pairs of loppers, rakes and forks are always welcome. Please bring your own gloves and mugs for drinks.
Look forward to seeing you whenever you are free to join us.
Pam Rouquette - 05.09.22.