Tuesday 4 April 2017

Arbury Road Hedge - Undergrowth Planting

Another post about an obscure hedge on a suburban road in Cambridge, removed to give us a cycle lane (which we need) but in such a hurried, silly way that we've lost a lot of local biodiversity, and we're running to catch up and fix it. If we can get this right there's a chance for a better outcome all round. If this hyper-local issue isn't your bag, move on. Ta.

There have been some absurd tweets that the hedge replanting is giving us more biodiversity. Sadly this is going to have to be in part from memory - here's a list of species we lost such that replanting can be done...

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
White dead nettle (Lamium album)
Red dead nettle (Lamium purpureu)m)
Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)
White campion (Silene alba)
Upright hedge parsley (Torilis japonica)
Cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)
Sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata)
Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)
Mallow (Malva sylvestris)
Vetch (Vicia sativa)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Herb Bennet (Geum urbanum)
Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
Hedge mustard (Sisymbrium officinale)
Three cornered leek (Allium triquetrum)
Crow garlic (Allium vineale)
Snow drop (Galanthus nivalis)
Bramble (Rubus fructicosus)
Dewberry (Rubus caesius)
Common hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)
Flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum)
Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
Sweet violets (Viola odorata)
Chickweed (Stellaria media)

EDIT: Yes, I said it was from memory. Please allow me to have a crap, patchy memory that needs the occasional jogging. Some others that were there:

Smooth sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)
Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Queen Annes Lace (Dacus carota)
Curled leaved dock (Rumex crispus)
Ladies Bedstraw (Galium verum)
Burnet (Sanguisona minor) - I think it was this burnet, could have been another one
Burdock (Arctium minus)

EDIT: Looking back at this and baffled at some of the things I missed that I know grew there...

Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis)
Self Heal (Prunella vulgaris)
Wild Marjoram (Origanum vulgare)
Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium)

To fix this we need representative species selected from above to be. Some (chickweed, dandelion, nettle) will be back of their own accord very quickly. Some (crow garlic, oxeye daisy, sweet violets, many others) really ought to be replaced. I'm not immediately sure which are the best to get in first and, again, getting locally sourced biodiversity back should be at the top of the priority list.

I can't do this alone, City Deal. When do you start with this and whats the plan please?

EDIT: I don't see any real need to replace plants that'll find their own way back very quickly. Its a roadside in Cambridge, we'll see fat hen, chickweed, goose grass, nettle and dandelion in no time at all. But we had other plants there that will struggle to re-establish, variously because they're quite shy growers here to begin with or because the conditions on a modern roadside aren't the same as they were when the hedge was established. I've talked to the BTCV and Cambridgeshire Wildife Trust and they're both tearing their hair out about this - its really hard to re-establish undergrowth like this, especially after the hedge has gone in.

The best plan from those discussions seems to be to select some 'winners' and work to re-establish them in the hedge, and then hopefully they can spread from there while other plants re-seed over time. Can I suggest that we should maybe pick a dozen species that will struggle on their own and get those in at various points? I'm going to suggest, as a starting point, ladies bedstraw,  white campion, upright hedge parsley, sweet cicely (one of only two places I've found this wild in Cambridge, really worth restoring), snowdrop, dewberry, common hogweed, oxeye daisy, sweet violets, burdock, herb robert and garlic mustard? I don't anticipate the whole hedge be re-planted thus, and I'm entirely open to alternate suggestions for plants to restore the undergrowth.

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