Loose Amenities Association
Loose Amenities Association

WorK Party reports

15th May 2022

A bit damp, even so 9 of us attended the work party in the valley on Sunday 15th May. The majority of people worked in Rainbow Meadow cutting the emergent bramble in the wild flower areas. It was surprising how much the brambles had grown. It doesn't seem that long ago that we cut them back before. Although bramble is an excellent plant for butterflies and small mammals it is also persistent , resilient and difficult to eliminate in those places where it is not wanted. We are slowly winning the battle in the open wildflower meadow in Rainbow. A lot of our wild flowers have been a bit slow this year due to the dry weather, the blue haze of speedwell that we usually get in the spring just did not happen. Although not a lot is open yet there seems to be quite a variety of wild flowers growing. While some of us worked in Rainbow 2 others cleared a fallen elder by Little Ivy, cut and cleared a broken sycamore at the end of Roys, retrieved the uprooted alder from the stream and dug its root ball into the bank a bit in the hope that this would prevent the vandals throwing it back into the stream. They also cut back the top of 3 steel stakes next to Great Ivy. We do not know quite what they are but until recently only 1 was above soil level but now 2 others have been exposed. All 3 were a significant trip hazard. It would be interesting to know what was there long ago. Our chaps also put in markers on some of the whips. Thank you to the 3 people who provided refreshments and for every ones' hard work. 

 

17th April 2022

8 of us celebrated Easter in the valley. We had a work party! To be more precise, 2 work parties! The first scaled the heights of Kirkdale (Penfold Hill) to remove and cut up a tree that had fallen most inconsiderately into a garden of a house in Valley Drive. A difficult place to work on top of a high bank! A little aside....did you know that both sides of a cutting at the bottom of Kirkdale were once supported by tall ragstone walls? (One can only assume that these are now in peoples' rockeries!) As you can see the loss of this wall has caused substantial erosion and we rather anticipate that this will not be the last tree to lose its equilibrium. The other 4 stalwarts went into Roy's and along the Ride Path where they started the task of removing as many Sycamore seedlings as they could find and cutting any regrowth on any of the felled tree stumps. That too, on a steep bank. Steep slopes seemed to be the theme for working conditions for this week end! They removed the Sycamore seedlings because (as you can see for yourselves) Sycamores very quickly establish a mono-culture of over-crowded trees which is of limited use to wild life, shades out the under-storey and is not good for the overcrowded trees themselves. If you look you will see that where we have been thinning the banks in Roy's an under-storey is beginning to develop, Dogwood, Elderberry, Hawthorn and Holly and ground cover plants like Bluebells, Dog's Mercury and Wood Anemones are establishing well. In relation to previous work in the valley the area where Loose Junior School planted their whips has been utilized effectively by Ladies' Smock(Cardamine Pratensis). This is the food plant of the Orange Tip butterfly so on sunny days it would be worth looking out for them. We have seen them on the wing these last few days, only the male has the very distinctive orange tip to its fore-wing. Thank you to our volunteers and the provider of refreshments. Now that Covid is more manageable we are resuming providing refreshments. Offers of help in this respect would be gratefully received. 

 

20th March 2022

We had a beautiful spring day for our work party, 20th March. We divided up into several groups. Two groups worked on the slope up towards Penfold Hill in Rainbow Meadow. Another group went to Roy's. Our chainsaw gang cleared a patch of Bullace that had made inroads into the meadow. Others cleared bramble stems in the grassy bank as they had at the last work party lower down( carefully to avoid disturbance to the mammals and reptiles). Additionally they removed the protective fencing round some of our grouped young trees. These are now big enough to have their own wire netting, a job for another day before the sheep come in. At the end of the session the groups in Rainbow combined to use the brash from the Bullace to build a dry hedge. This makes an excellent habitat and refuge for insects, birds and small mammals. The rest of the work party went into Roy's. They removed the top perimeter fence at Lower Wiggals as the trees there are mature enough not to need our protection. The fencing material will be used to re-fence Upper Wiggals, to make an undisturbed, unmanaged area for nesting birds such as Blackcaps that like bramble scrub for nesting. (They nested in the area last year.) As we had use of a trailer we were able to move a pile of wood chippings and put them in the wet area of the vehicle track so it is more walkable and people don't have to trample the vegetation at the side. When they had finished that they returned to Rainbow and cleared the vegetation on the bridge. It was important to remove this early in the year before birds started nesting there. Our 2 lumberjacks did some "overtime" and removed an ivy-covered tree that had fallen across and into the stream in the grove of Alders. As always many, many thanks to the 18 folk who gave of their time and their energy for the benefit of all of us

 

19th December 2021

This work party was a 'repair the footpath' event. Working in Roys we barrowed a large amount of wood chippings to the vehicle track laying it in the wettest areas.  We also removed some scrub alongside a fence, which will make walking in this area easier and less muddy as there is a ragstone base.  Fencing around Wigals was removed in one area, opening up the trees as they are now well established.  The Hopkiln boundary fence was repaired, with some logs re-used as posts ( as these are Sycamore their longivity will be monitored).

Well done to the 12 volunteers.

 

11th November 2021

Last week we had 2 work parties.On Wednesday we continued our work on our Woodland Management Plan.This job is done from September on and through the winter.It involves thinning our overcrowded shaws along the Valley .We fell weak and diseased trees where possible and also trees that are threatening the health of specimens of trees of different species eg Oak,Gean(Wild Cherry) etc. out numbered by the prevailing Sycamore. (This is separate from the felling of some of the Ash trees,which we all regret but we have a legal duty to ensure public safety on the footpaths.If our consultant experts say a tree is unsafe it has to be made safe.More often than not this means felling,sadly.) On the Sunday our 'foresters" continued with their work in Roy's.The rest of our volunteers worked around Little Ivy. Sort of spring theme! The weather was quite spring like and we were preparing for spring.We cut the rampant growth and raked out the resultant debris vigorously to give the wildflowers a good start come spring.We used to get Cowslips in that area but they died out(or walked -we have found holes with trowel marks in the past).We had a single specimen appear in a discreet corner this year so we are hoping! Covid rather derailed our management of this area so there was a lot of hard work involved.Many thanks to our 16 volunteers and a warm welcome to 2 new volunteers who joined us. 

Before and after photos , clearing scrub in Roys Meadow

19th September 2021

8 LAA volunteers did a morning's stint in Hop Kiln in the valley. The path from Dog Kennel Hill was cleared of nettles. Some small dead trees were felled, gateways and footpaths were cleared. Bays were also cut in the brambles along the edge of the shaw. By not having a straight edge we create a longer edge with varying aspects and micro-climates. This increases resting and feeding opportunities for butterflies, bees and other insects and birds. Towards the end of the morning we moved into Roy's and did some clearance and maintenance work on our young trees in our new woodland. At present most of the whips that the children planted seem to be doing well. Somebody from LAA does a check on the trees approximately once a week. Thanks to our work party volunteers. While we are thanking them may we also thank all those lovely people who without being asked pick up bags full of litter and poo bags and even use their own bags to clean up after other peoples' dogs! You are marvelous! 

25th July 2021

LAA work party for 25th July happened despite a gloomy forecast of another monsoon. It didn't rain but it was pretty clammy! So, "Well done!" to our volunteers who sweated, perspired or glowed on behalf of us all. Many different tasks were undertaken today in Rainbow Meadow. Nettles were cut where we didn't want them. Nettles are very good for wildlife providing food and shelter for a wide range of wildlife especially butterflies, so we are selective. As you may have noticed we have planted Hemp Agrimony among the nettles near the Alders. We cut some of the nettles round them to help them get established and in various other places where nettles were out-competing other plants. We mowed the "Amenity" area by the stream. This proved very hard work and difficult and, unfortunately, will involve us in cost as the mower broke. The vegetation was even thicker than we realized (the combined results of Covid, a lot of rain and a lot of heat!) This vegetation had to be raked up and you will be able to see how verdant things were by the volume of vegetation in our piles. This vegetation will be used in time as a mulch for wherever it is needed. We also did some path cutting and to a much needed repair to the corner of the fence near to Kirkdale Cottages. During one of the recent gales a young Alder which had grown right in the middle of the stream came down into the water. The tree was cut and winched out. (Quite an achievement in view of the depth of the water and the weight of the root ball.) There is a good mix of wild flowers in Rainbow Meadow at the moment. We hope people will enjoy them and post some photos on Facebook. A warning; some pretty unsavoury-looking scum floated down the stream while we were working, dog owners and parents beware!

27th June 2021

9 volunteers, on Sunday 27th June 2021, attended Loose Amenities work party to wage war on rampant vegetation. The new trees, planted by Loose Primary school were rapidly becoming overgrown by the extremely vigorous growth engendered by the current wet weather. This meant we had to locate and clear round each individual tree, a rather slow and painstaking job, before we could actually mow as the little whips were virtually invisible. Once this was done we were able to use our mechanical mower. The little whips seem to be doing well and all, at the moment, appear to have survived. We did find that the Oak whips were showing signs of mildew(baby Oaks like a bit of space, air and light). So in the afternoon one of our volunteers went back and shortened the spiral collars to allow the air to get to the growing point and put wire protectors round each tree. Meanwhile 2 volunteers cut the paths in Rainbow Meadow and then moved on to the footpath by Little Ivy. They were joined by the volunteers who had finished working on the school trees, to cut areas of encroaching nettle. Some dangerous, low-hanging branches were cut from the Sycamores next to the vehicle track in the near-by area. Some clearance was also achieved further down the valley as well. We also had a mid-week work party on 16th of June when 4 of us cleared the Woodlawn and Great Ivy Mill paths and cut the nettles round the gateways. We have a new notice board made by one of our members erected at the Loose end of Rainbow Meadow(the notice board was erected, not the member!) 

16th May 2021

6 volunteers cleared bramble in Rainbow meadow, these were realtively small plants having been cut each year. Additionally the fence along Rainbow meadow was stabilised wiith some new posts.

The view is of Rainbow Meadow, including the new noticeboard made by John Williams from recycled wooden benches.

18th April 2021

On 18th April, 3 volunteers cleared bramble in Rainbow meadow, this were realtively small plants having been cut each year. Another 3 cut and dug out some more vigorously growing brambles in Roys Meadow, this is to make room for tree planting by Loose school. Additionally the fence along Rainbow meadow was stabilised wiith some new posts.

18th October 2020

On Wednesday 14th October 4 LAA members performed forestry work in the valley felling sick and fratricidal trees in an area of over-crowded self sown Sycamore. This is part of a 10 year Woodland Management Plan.

On Sunday 18th October 6 volunteers worked in the valley clearing the brash and stacking the logs from Wednesday. At the same time our 2 chain saw operators made up a second group. They took down a tree that had partially fallen in Roy's Shaw as it was dangerous. They then cleared the large willow that had fallen across the public footpath at the bottom of Hopkiln Meadow.

20th September 2020

On 20th September a "Covid regulations" reduced LAA work party of 8 people, carefully separated into 2 distinct groups, worked in the valley. One group of 4 did fence repairs to the fence around Wigals. Wigals is the woodland planted by children from Loose School. The trees along Linton Road from the top of Old Loose Hill towards Herts Crescent were similarly planted by the children from Loose School a generation before. It is so good to have a school involved in enhancing their environment.

The other group of 4 cut down the scrub trees near to Little Ivy. This will prepare the way for planting a healthier and more varied range of native trees in Roy's Meadow. Opening up will also encourage wild flowers and shrubs. 2 of the 4 in this group had to act as look-outs for safety reasons and while doing so were able to tidy up the path edges. It is now the time of year when annual tree work can commence. The aim is to thin the trees from excessive competition and we should see an improvement in the health of some of the trees that are currently being smothered by the over-growth of Sycamore, e.g Wild Cherry and Oaks. Unfortunately Ash Die-back has arrived in the valley. This has necessitated some large trees near the footpaths being felled for safety reasons. This was unplanned and is much regretted but was strongly advised by an arboriculturist and a tree surgeon. Many thanks once again to our volunteers

16th August 2020

On 16th August 9 volunteers worked on LAA land in the Loose valley. We are currently restricting numbers of volunteers so that we can more easily observe distancing as required by Covid regulations. Normal will happen one day! Sadly some of us had to repair vandalised gates. We think they were broken deliberately probably by cyclists trying to get their bikes through despite cycling not being permitted in the valley. On one of the gates the top bar had actually been broken and the closer post moved out of alignment. One of our volunteers who is trained to use a chain saw felled several poor and overcrowded bullace trees some of which were unstable and hanging over the vehicle track. Some of the wood produced was/will be used to make path edgings. The smaller branches and twigs will be used to make dry hedging on the woodland edges. This provides a habitat for small mammals, reptiles and insects as well as woodland edge plants. Areas of invading nettles were cut near Little Ivy to give other plants a chance to grow. The clippings were used as a natural mulch under the trees. At the start of the work party several "tonne" bags of fir tree remains left on Brooks Field from the Christmas tree were taken from Brooks Field as they had never been collected and used to make a mulch-type habitat under the hawthorns in Rainbow Meadow

19th July 2020

On Sunday 19th July a small group of volunteers worked in the valley for LAA. Due to Corona virus we are keeping our group small and doing our social distancing bit. The time was spent path clearing in the main. We cleared the circular route round the village end of Rainbow Meadow and the public footpath that runs through Roy's Meadow beside Little Ivy and Woodlawn. Some of the big Sycamores along the public footpath by the Woodlawn border had an overgrowth of ivy. We like to see some ivy on the trees as it is excellent for wildlife but if you get too much in the crown it makes the tree very vulnerable to being blown down in winter winds. For this reason the ivy is being cut so that it will die back. As a small aside the wild flower meadow (Rainbow Meadow) is looking pretty good at the moment. There are lots of butterflies, bees, crickets and grasshoppers etc. among the flowers and grasses and lots of Soldier beetles on the Hogweed flowers.

Ivy cut at base of Sycamore along Woodlawn path

11th and 15th March 2020

On Wednesday 11th March LAA were grateful to receive the help with our work in the valley of a group of people from Cabot at Kingshill. A group worked in the woodland stacking cut wood and putting brash into dry hedges at the edge of the woodland. Another group cleared the mud from parts of the public footpath and made good with ragstone chippings. The final group worked on the ground near to Brickfield Cottage digging out brambles. So a big thank you to Cabot and their team who worked very hard. We hope we will see them again.

 

On Sunday 15th March 12 volunteers came to the Loose valley to join the LAA work party. We concentrated mainly on Rainbow Meadow. Grass and brambles were cut and raked up. The cut vegetation was put in various places to provide habitats for smaller species such as rodents, reptiles and insects. We also cleared the ground to allow sheep access to coarse grasses giving the wild flowers a better chance. Invading Bullace scrub was cut and the brash from that was used to build up the dry hedge that borders the woodland. We also continued repairs to the public footpath. We were delighted to welcome Lola (and her family) who did a much appreciated litter pick as part of her D of E award.

17th and 19th January 2020

On Friday 17th January 4 of us went down to Loose Valley to work. Our 2 chain saw qualified volunteers felled some damaged and dying trees. This will make room for more healthy trees to grow. We also cut down some of the invading Bullace scrub to open up glades and remove it from some of the grassland areas. Some were also crowding out the low, dense canopy Hawthorn wood that is so valuable for birds. In the winter this is used as a roost by Fieldfares and Redwings en masse, on occasions. The resultant cut wood is being stacked for use and the brash/brushwood has been used to renew the dry hedge at the edge of the wood.

This work is the first stage of the Woodland Management plan.

 

On Sunday 19th 13 volunteers worked in the valley on a variety of tasks. A tree that had fallen into and across the stream was removed, a cold, miserable job, even in waders! A patch of the more vigorous bramble that had invaded the flower meadow was dug out and other bramble areas were cut down. Meanwhile other volunteers cut up and stacked the rest of the wood from Friday's efforts and built the brash into the dry hedge that borders the woodland. The dry hedge provides a habitat for small mammals etc. and also protects emerging woodland edge plants. Ironically this includes bramble, what a pity we can't teach it to grow only where it is wanted! As always thanks to our volunteers and our refreshment providers.

17th November 2019

13 volunteers worked in the valley today, Sunday 17th November. The slope below the woodland near Little Ivy was mowed and raked to clear for the wild flowers in the spring. Some of the overhanging and invading bullace scrub was cut back to let more light in. The cut branches are woven in to make a dry hedge along the wood and the path thus improving those areas for wild life e.g wood mice and bank voles. A little further along the invading nettles were cut and cleared and just beyond Little Ivy an area of invading of bramble and nettle was also cleared. The volunteers worked really hard and every-body was very tired. They all richly deserve our thanks

 

20th October 2019

8 hardy souls worked in the valley on 20th October. The weather was kind with a clear blue sky. We cleared nettles in an area around the gates between Rainbow and Roys Meadow and adjacent to the stream. Working north along the valley, the area at Little Ivy was also cleared of nettles and brambles. All cleared material was heaped at several positions, these should provide a short term habitat for wildlife.  Nettles whilst not a bad plant to have do sometimes overpower an area. By regular cutting and consumption by sheep, we aim to manage the nettles along the valley.

The litter 'hidden' in the undergrowth was also removed.

15th September 2019

13 people turned up for LAA's monthly work party on Sunday 15th September. We cleared the bank side and an area near the stream in Rainbow Meadow. It is planned to keep that particular area relatively short and clear to provide a more people and dog-friendly place thus taking the pressure off the rest of the stream bank. It may have the added benefit of allowing more "short grass" wild flowers and plants to grow. The cuttings have been stacked and when wilted will be used as a high-nitrogen mulch for some of the trees and the thicket and woodland areas. We also cut the verges in Kirkdale and cut back the vegetation alongside the vehicle track and the Ride footpath. Thanks to all the volunteers and the refreshment providers. Warm work on a warm morning!

P.S. We had the added pleasure of seeing 5 Buzzards circling over the valley and having mini "dog fights

Registered office:

 

Loose Amenities Association,

Springdale,
Church Street,
Loose, Maidstone,

ME15 0BX

General enquiries: 01622 743676
E-mail: info@loose-amenities.org.uk

 

 

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