Sambourne Village

Phil Jones invited a biodiversity expert - David Lowe - to  Sambourne to seek his advice about the project in the village.
David Lowe (Principal Ecologist, Warwickshire Historic & Natural Environment) visited Sambourne at 11.00 on 13th June 2011.
He examined many of the verges and gave several recommendations.
This is a summary of Phil's report on the visit.

Middletown Lane opposite St Catherine’s
The area of greatest interest is the end nearest to the Village Green. It is more open and light with a greater variety of wild flowers and ant hills. Interesting plants present included Knapweed, Vetch and Yarrow.

The whole area should be cut twice per year. The first cut should be about the 1st August. The mowings should be left for about a week to allow the seeds to settle then raked up. The second cut should be in late October when the cuttings will not need to be raked.

After a couple of years this regime will result in a shorter sward and will allow desirable grasses to grow through.
The Knapweed should be allowed to form seed which should be gathered and scattered.
Nettles and thistles at the rear of the plot can be cut back at normal mowing times, perhaps by one metre more with each cut.
Acquiring and scattering a hay bale on this mown area will provide desirable grass seed and help the recovery process.

Re-growth of the nettles and thistles will be valuable for butterflies. To target any specific “weeds” the use of a rag wipe is recommended. This contains a herbicide and the procedure should be carried out by a contractor as a licence is needed.

The Middletown end of the plot has significantly more tree growth, so more shade. Little other than what is already there is likely to grow and it is suggested that the same cutting regime as for the rest of the plot is followed. It is worth considering acquiring a green hay bale from a local farm, spreading it over the area then raking it up after a week. This should prompt seeding and increase biodiversity.

With regard to the trees, David suggested consulting Matt Austin at Stratford. There is an Oak growing near the road and Highways Tree Maintenance may agree to take off the lower branches to raise the crown. This would allow in more light and encourage the area to develop as a meadow.
A large Willow has a split trunk and some dead branches. Matt Austin might consider this to be a safety issue; otherwise the tree should be let alone. An old stake should be removed from the side of a Turkey Oak.

The hedgerow to the rear of the whole area is very overgrown. We could take the blackthorn back towards the line of the original hedge. This would allow hedgerow plants such as Red Campion to spread. We might also consider establishing ownership of the hedge with a view to having it laid professionally. This would allow in more light and increase biodiversity.

A kick-start for this area could be achieved through appropriate seeding. Stockists of seed include Emorsgate Seeds, British Seed Houses and Henley Aquatics. The area is not really suitable for cowslips and primroses as they prefer a south-facing slope. The ideal policy for all verges is to be as natural as possible. Poppies are basically weeds of arable fields and disturbed ground and would die out under a management regime. Bluebells would be alright in shady areas, but it is essential to ensure that they are English bluebells.

Wike Lane
We looked at the verges in Wike Lane near where the brook passes under the lane. David’s opinion is that it’s nice as it is, although it could benefit from the same mowing regime as described above. The area near the “Sambourne” sign is too shady to be meadow land, but an annual cut with the cuttings being collected would be good practice. The wide area close to the brook (LH side on leaving the village) could benefit from a gradual cutting into the dense growth. We could consult Matt Austin about removing the oak tree growing close to the road at this point. It probably needs taking right down and the stump being treated.

Recreation Ground
It is good as it is. There’s a large patch of Rosebay Willowherb that might be attractive to Elephant Hawk Moths (try a moth trap to check?) The hazel and ash could be useful resources – to be coppiced for hedge-laying in the Middletown Lane area. If we wanted to develop an area differently a community orchard would be a possibility, BUT that would need a lot of management over many years.

Other comments
A village plan must have a chapter on Biodiversity. David is very willing to visit again and comment on the current state of verges and provide management advice. He suggests looking at a website for a village that has worked with LBAP to enhance areas, e.g. Stretton on Dunsmore.

Grants could be available from:
An online search of “Grantfinder” might turn up other sources.

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