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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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:
SITA Landfill Tax
- WREN (Waste Recycling…..)
An online search of “Grantfinder” might turn up other sources.
Actions for PGJ/SRJ
Consult with seed stockists to determine costs, method and planting timing.
Rake the Middletown Lane area to remove the recent mowings soon.
Actions needed in order to proceed
Request Matt Austin to survey and, if necessary, deal with 3 trees.
Consult with our grass-cutters.
Find someone to overall manage the project.
Find volunteers to help establish and provide on-going maintenance of the area.