Warden's report December 2017
As ever at this time of year, work has been concentrated on the cutting back and clearing of our path network, as well as the cutting and clearing of the glades and meadow areas. At the time of writing this report, only Bulls Hollow remained to be cleared from the main cut. Happy Valley will be cleared separately in the run up to Christmas. The last cut of the amenity grass was carried out at the beginning of November, hopefully leaving it reasonably short for the start of the new contract next April.
This year, in accordance with the recommendations of our new Management Plan, we have left parts of our glades uncut to create a greater variety of age ranges and habitats within the sward. These areas will be cut on a two or three year rotational basis. Two of the clearances in particular were noted as showing good heather regeneration and worth extra attention. To this end, we have had two visits from the Kent High Weald Volunteer Group, who cleared invading birch seedlings and bramble from the new heather area below Royal Victoria Grove, as well as from the nearby original heather stand that was the only remaining patch found on either Common when it was surveyed for the original Management Plan.
In accordance with Management Plan recommendations, Fir Tree Pond has recently been de-silted and weed removed over about half its area. Having first been allowed to drain back into the pond, the weed and silt was used to construct a refuge in a sunny corner of the site. Logwood and brush were incorporated into the mound to create chambers and spaces within the refuge, as well as providing food and shelter for invertebrates that will in turn provide a food source for the amphibians.
This important breeding pond has always attracted early attention because of its sheltered and sunny position which allows water temperature to rise swiftly in the spring. In recent years, however, the holly scrub to the south of the pond has grown high enough to start to shade it. I therefore plan to cut the holly in question down to around six feet in height, which will not only allow light back onto the pond but also should cause the holly to sprout from the base, acting as a much improved barrier against road noise.
Work has been carried out once again to repair the surface of Fir Tree car park. This time we concentrated on the entrance, where the existing tarmac was crumbling badly. A section on either side of the granite sets was cut out back to sound material, and new tarmac installed. As ever, we will be recovering fifteen percent of the costs of these repairs from the cricket club.
We have now started to cut back the overgrown edges of some of our surfaced paths, as well as clearing leaves from our drainage ditches. Many of the ditches are in need of re-digging now. We excavated the Racecourse ditch between Major Yorks Road and Hungershall Park last year and we plan to re-dig the section from Major Yorks Road to the end of Royal Victoria Grove this winter.
As ever, a number of our anti-parking posts have required replacement, particularly along the Racecourse. In the past year we have installed new posts on Bretland Road and Lower Green Road to prevent continued erosion of the verges. I hope to be able to do the same at the end of Apsley Street this winter to prevent similar damage occurring there. At the time of writing, KCC Highways are installing wooden edging to prevent further erosion along another black spot, Edgcumbe Road.
After much frustrating delay, the new information panels being provided by the Friends are about to be installed on both Commons and should be in place by the time of the meeting. This will be the culmination of a great deal of effort by quite a number of people, most especially the previous Chair of the Friends, John Barber. These panels will be a valuable asset to visitors and residents alike, especially in conjunction with the extremely popular maps that the Friends produced two years ago.