Saturday, 16 June 2012

Plants of Seething Wells

Field scabious
3 species of scabious are known to grow here. Field scabious was a common perennial of (usually calcareous) waysides, meadows and downland. It is widely distributed over the whole of the F.B's and can be seen from the south western part of the wharf , to the boundary fence at Hart's Boatyard. It is the only site in the borough where this plant is found and this group is rare in London.

Common or black knapweed or hardheads
Common knapweed is found at several sites in the borough such as Tolworth Court Farm, Chessington, New Malden along with a small patch at Kingston Cemetery (where its spread  has been encouraged by a relaxed mowing regime). It is a plant prevalent in neighbouring Richmond, which has preserved its unimproved grassland sites.
L-R lesser typha, birdsfoot trefoil and hop trefoil


This month the F.B's exploded into colour and the mass of yellow is a mixture of bird's-foot trefoil and hop trefoil. These are essential for butterflies and other insects. They also grow along the  grass bank at Thames Ditton Marina and take a quick look at the raised patch of grass on the opposite side of the road. These common plants have been lost from many grass verges in the borough, due to chemical treatment, or enrichment from dog faeces.

Red clover, trefoils, persicarias etc

Clover is a favoured bee plant and the areas between the basins are  a riot of colour dominated by clovers.

These plants together tell us a  story about the substrates present at the F.B's, it's past chemical free management and the diversity of plants in the sward helps birds and bats by providing  the food and shelter for their insect prey. The plants proposed in the new scheme ignore the inherent interest in these grassland species. Some of them are on the list London Biodiversity Partnership's list of invasive plant species to avoid near Nature Reserve's,  such as cotoneaster, and tell us more about ease of management for residents gardens.

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