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June 2019

We have a busy month ahead so I will begin by pointing you to a couple of important items I think you will find interesting, just click on the headings below to be taken to the articles.

Project Manager's Update

There was very little to report on the Development last month so we thought it best to add all the progress to the June 2019 update.

Lark in the Park

Our two annual events, this one and Autumn Antics, are intended to be fun and educational, aimed primarily at children and their parents; however, we always welcome everyone and anyone so if you find yourself at a loose end this Saturday afternoon [15th June] come along to the park, there is sure to be something you will find interesting.

Friends of Manor Farm Park: Will have an information stall where you can ask about the Friends, join up and help us with our vision for the park: it will also serve as the main First Aid Point. There will be a free [donations will be welcome] refreshments stall; duck racing in the Griffin's Brook; a 'guess the weight of the cake' competition; a plant stall; a homemade goods stall and we will have a Tombola at another stall.

The Wildlife Trusts: Will be in attendance with a membership recruiter to talk to people about their work and the importance of looking after wildlife.

Fircroft College: Will have a stall with someone showing how to make your own butterfly feeders.

Birmingham and District Beekeepers Association: Will be bringing an observation hive and may also do some candle making from beeswax, depending on the ambient temperature.

RSPCA: Will be talking about their work and 'litter timelines'; they will also make a bug hotel.

WaterSide Care: Project Officer, Lee, will be demonstrating the fun part of carrying out a kick survey to check on the health and welfare of the [smaller] freshwater invertebrates in our brook.

Active Parks/Park Lives: Volunteers will be here with a range of 'soft' outdoor games.

ActiveBase Art: Will be demonstrating how to build up paintings using a bark rubbing technique; a large canvas will be available for those attending to try it out for themselves.

Tony Sames: A long-standing member of FoMFP will lead walks around the park explaining points of interest and talking about the wildlife.

Conservation and WaterSide Care Days

Last Saturday [June 8th] half a dozen volunteers turned out in the rain to begin our annual fight against an invasive weed that causes severe damage to our waterway and wetland indigenous flora. Read on to see why it is so important that we do all we can to rid our park of it and why we feel that the volunteer working days in June and July each year should be spent almost exclusively on this.


 Himalayan Balsam

06231a08775d88f9e28fbe19e5fb4933Despite its pretty, purplish-pink flowers and its attractiveness to bees, this invasive weed is a threat to our indigenous plant life, particularly in wetland habitats. Exploding pods hurl seeds a distance of up to 13'; it is the tallest annual plant in the UK, growing as high as 8'.

For the last six years or so we have been doing our best to eradicate this weed from the banks of the Griffin's Brook and in the wetland areas of the park. Sadly, it has come to our attention that we are unlikely to reduce its presence further as there is a stretch of the brook, upstream between our park and Ley Hill park where the Himalayan balsam is left to proliferate freely. Moreover, we are not allowed, as a group of volunteers, to go and destroy it due to insurance issues. We have been looking into these issues and may even have a solution which we will share with you once we are sure it is feasible.

A more detailed article on this invasive weed can be read here.




There will be members and park users who recall how we asked for help to eradicate this weed Balsroot.opt.400x400from our park, initially during the summer of 2013 with our apt named activity 'Balsam Bashing'. We uprooted and crushed all trace of the balsam [that we could see] over several weekends of intense 'pulling and bashing' [and fun] during that wonderfully hot summer and congratulated ourselves on a job well done at the end of it. We were somewhat perplexed when in mid-July of the following year the weed was back in such volume that it appeared as though the previous summer's work had never happened.

Five years later we are still 'Bashing Balsam' during the early summer months as we have in each of the intervening years. Admittedly, our efforts have not gone entirely unrewarded; it is visibly obvious that there has been a lot less Himalayan balsam in our park over recent years, meaning that at least we have it under some kind of control. Unfortunately, to keep it under control we have to spend at least 3 full activity days 'bashing' the weed into submission in June and early July.

Both our Conservation Day and WatersideCare Day on Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 23rd of June respectively will be devoted to removing as much of this weed from our park as possible. It is expected that the Conservation Day on the 6th of July will be spent similarly.

In theory, uprooting the weed is easy, one must reach down to the base of the stem, grip it just above reddish root cluster then pull gently but firmly upwards; it may be necessary to wiggle back and forth a little to help loosen the root system which is not at all deep or well spread out. Once free the whole plant should be taken at least two yards from the water or the wetland area, piled up and then thoroughly crushed by stamping on it.

This is always a part of the treatment that children love; the main stem is hollow and gives a satisfying squelchy-crackling sound as they jump up and down on top of the pile. The weed is then incapable of producing any seeds, each of which could have potentially grown into a single plant able to spread up to 800 seeds the following the year. Just to be absolutely certain the plant is really neutralized the crushed piles can be moved on to a nearby footpath, further away from the point of initial extraction and left for people to walk upon and crush it even further: it also helps if the footpath is out in the sunshine.

In reality, of course, it is not that simple, at least within our beautiful park. Our balsam seems to love areas that are overgrown and choked with nettles and brambles as though the plant itself makes it as difficult as possible for us to get to the base of its stem. Nevertheless, 'Balsam Bashing' is always great fun and we are hoping that, as well as coming along on the above mentioned days to help, you will take it upon yourselves to pull out and crush any Himalayan balsam weeds you come across in future - that are easily accessible, naturally.

D A B-P [04/06/2019]

updated: 6th; 10th & 12th June 2019








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