Spring 2017 Blossoms

So far ( May 2017) it has been a great blossom year – the early Spring bulbs were over  very quickly – the snowdrops, crocuses etc.but the daffodils and the white cherry blossom has been a joy.

The daffodils scttered round the edge of the park are beginning to form clumps and spread… and these are real english bluebells… enjoy

Park Improvements Summer 2016 – 2017

Wecontinue to add interest to the park – both for people and for wildlife ..

This Summer we have added a Bug Hotel to the facilities for wildlife.

and we are already planning the  new plantings for this Autumn – one or two more  flowering and berry bearing trees in the Park and  some more Spring bulbs. This will be our 5th Winter of adding spring bulbs.

Do you remember  a couple of years back when two  new benches were added to  Holy Ghost Field – unfortunately  installed in the wrong place and subsequently vandalised?

We got the Council to take the remains away but the promise to replace them never materialized ……we have generated enough money  ourselves now to pay for at least one replacement by the Dellwood Path …it  should be in position by the Spring.



Park Improvements Winter 2015-16

We had  2  projects for  this  Winter season – planting  yet more bulbs and this time a few wild flower plug plants, and  tackling once and for all the  hedgerow at the northern end of the Dellwood hedgerow.

Working through November and December  ( fortunately the weather was very mild) we have planted a host of daffodils and narcissus in various locations and  more crocuses along with some more snowdrops  to  compensate for the loss of the original snowdrop stock which has been declining in recent years.

This year we also had the opportunity to plant  some genuine wild  seed primroses in a shady part of the park. This  mini-project was generously sponsored by  two local residents –  for which  our thanks!

We have  made several attempts over the years to improve the hedgerow by the Dellwood path. Historically some residents in Pitman Close planted and have nurtured  what is now a mature hedgerow –  full of bird nesting and roosting facilities. But the hedgerow is not continuous, and at various places there are gaps which we hope to fill in  with additional high quality  shrub species. At the northern end, the hedge was completely absent , replaced by a series of ash saplings which over the years had grown into a line of ugly and vigorous  trees which were cut back  and regrew each year. Ash cannot be  made into a hedge in any form. With the agreement of the local residents we finally negotiated with the borough grounds maintenance staff for the ask to be removed  or killed off, the  land to be cleared of a lot of accumulated rubbish and for a new hedgerow to be established.

The replanting of the hedge shrubs has started –  more will follow in  the coming months until the planting task is completed. We also hope to add hedgerow wild flowers at the base of the hedgerow – again a bit later  in Spring. At that point  we have to sit back and wait – for Nature to play its part. A wildlife friendly hedge is not something that can be  created over night – it will be 3 -4 years before it is recognisable as a hedge and 10 years before it is a respectable size.




Update on The Hedgerow by the Tennis Courts

We explained the scheme we are working to at the top of the Holy Ghost Field where we cut back the old and decayed  trees  to rejuvenate the hedgerow.

In February and April  we planted  new trees and shrubs helped by  the Kempshott Scouts planting a row of new hazels and hawthorns on both sides of the old hedgerow, and  adding some new young trees to the  area ajoning the hedgerow.

You  can’t keep a good scrambler down!  On the old hedge line the bramble, briar and ivy roots are pushing up new growth with enthusiasm.The new  young hazels and hawthorns have all taken root and are doing well. In the corner of the field.  We  have some daffodils from previous years  which are thriving and  we have added a few  wild flower plugs (mainly  lesser knapweed) which  we had in stock.

We  added  some young hawthorns and birch to the two  big trees  donated by the Council but sadly someone decided to  steal them  a  few weeks later. We will be replacing them this autumn when we will be seeding this triangle of  ground with wildflower seed.



Spring Bulbs 2014

We had high hopes for a good display of spring flowers this Spring after all the planting  in Autumn last year.

The bulbs did  make a show, each in turn, but despite a mild winter, none of the  blossoms lasted very long – so the impact was muted.

The  Snowdrops  had a good year – particularly  by the dead hedging  on the end of the  hedgerow by the car park. The effect of more light and less competition was magical.

The crocuses appeared but were soon gone –  so we did not event get a good picture this year. The  Winter Aconites  under the limes showed up  over a number of weeks – we counted 50 +  sets of flower –  but  next year they should all come out together  and be  more impressive.

We added  more squills under the trees beside the main car  park but their display was very muted –  they were there – we counted  over 50 sets of flowers but  again we hope that the second year display will be better.

The  good news is the display of daffodils which were in flower from March to the end of April –  a good show.

Daffodils in Stratton Park 2014

January 2014 : News from the Park: What is happening about the hedgerows?

You may have noticed the changes to the old hedgerow by the tennis courts in Stratton Park.

What is the purpose?

A hedgerow once established does need to be maintained – nothing comes for free.  If managed properly a hedgerow will last for  500 years.  If neglected it will end up looking like our hedgerow. Our  hedge was planted in the 19th century, we are not sure when, definitely  after 1790 and possibly as late as  1890.

Right up to the 19th century a hedgerow was created to mark a boundary -  a field boundary  or a property boundary. This is in the days before barbed wire and electric cattle fencing , so  a hedge was  created with prickly shrubs -  hawthorn and blackthorn which discouraged cattle from pushing through. To  remain effective the hedge needed to  be maintained regularly by trimming  the top and sides or it would develop gaps. The hedge row would be created by digging two  small parallel ditches with the earth  piled up between them,. The bank would then be planted with hawthorns, interspersed with hazel, crab apple, blackthorn, elder and field maple. The 19th century practice was then to plant  young English hardwoods at intervals -  ash, elm, beech and oak.

The individual English hardwood trees along a hedgerow can last  up to 300 years having reached maturity  in 100 – 150 years, after which they are in decline and will gradually  decay. New  replacement hardwoods can be planted but they will struggle  because the  ground is already  colonised by the roots of the other  trees and bushes on the hedge line.

The  constituents of the hedge itself will last hundreds of years if managed properly –  trimmed or layed to keep it compact. Hedgerow shrubs differ from trees in that they do not develop just one main stem but many stems from the base, and indeed are happy to  keep generating new stems if  the older ones are cut back. Again ,unlike a tree, they  cannot support  growth above  15 – 20 feet tall.

The technique of laying involves cutting much of the growth back to the ground and partially cutting through the main upright healthy branches at base leaving just 30 % of the  thickness of each still in place. The  branch is then bent over to a 45% angle or more and held down by stakes and  hazel  bindings.. This sounds  very drastic but done properly the hedge is rejuvenated and will  grow and  prosper for another  30 – 40 years before needing renovation again.

A newly layed hedge






A rejuvenated hedge layed a few years previously



If however the hedge  shrubs are allowed to  just grow unchecked for  40 – 50 years they will become to old and too stiff to be layed in this way. Even worse, if the sides of the hedge are trimmed back regularly but  the top is allowed to continue to grow upwards, the hawthorn, the main element in the hedge,  will grow to 10 – 15 feet tall, become over mature and then decay and fall over.

That is what has happened with our hedge.- it is too old to lay and too old to  cut back to a hedge shape.

In the longer term, as sections die and fall ,  partial regeneration by cutting back to base  and some new planting  is our best option. This is what has happened at the southern end of the hedge nearest the Car Park. Of the 5 original hawthorn roots in this section 3 had fallen and  on close inspection one other was completely decayed – held up only by the ivy on it. The decision was taken to  reduce all 5  shrubs  to their root bases and cut back the rose briar and other small shrubs at the side of the stumps. To keep the hedgerow line and  offer a rich habitat for invertebrates etc.  much of the material has been retained in a ‘dead hedge’ . Some of the roots below this material may regenerate and sprout new growth over the next two years – but this is not guaranteed from such decayed roots -  we will have to wait and see.

Meanwhile new young hawthorn and hazel shrubs will be planted along side the  dead hedging and in 15 years we may  well have a young and thriving new hedge -  but only if it is properly maintained.

Further along the hedgerow  we have blocked  some of the gaps up so that  young shrubs can grow to eventually fill the spaces, leaving  3 main walk-throughs. for park users. Young  hedgerwo shrubs gro very slowly here as they are competing with established tree roots. Patience is needed!

Recently, part of one of our  old crab-apple trees fell over – it was completely decayed and hollowed out at the base and finally succumbed to old age. Fortunately we have some crab apple whips  which in future  years can be used to form part of the hedgerow again.



Autumn News Update

We have completed our 2013 bulb planting programme, thanks again to the Scouts and Guides for their help ( many hands DO make light work).

Regarding our rolling  3 year Plan for improvements to the park, there are more details of how we have looked at the park in  planning terms and what we are proposing   for 2013-16 at  FSP Management Plans 2013-16

Details of the 27th October AGM, the Chairman’s report and the  financial statement for the year  can be found here.

Third Annual General Meeting Minutes

Chairman’s Annual Report 2013

Accounts 2013

Bulb Planting and Hedgerow Maintenance days

The scouts and guides will be helping us plant bulbs again in November, in December we will start hedgerow maintenance  on the Dellwood Hedgerow and the Holy Ghost Field Hedgerow.

Dates for your diary:

Date & Time
Sun  24th November
         10.30 – 12.30
Spring Bulb Planting
Various locations in park
Sun  8th December 
         10.30  – 12.30
Spring Bulb Planting
Various locations in park
Sun 12th January     
         10.30 -  12.30
Hedgerow Maintenance
Dellwood Hedgerow
Sun  9th February   
         10.30 – 12.30
Hedgerow Maintenance
Holy Ghost Hedgerow
Sun 16th March      
          10.30 – 12.30
Seeding & plug planting
Hedgerows & Dellwood
Sun  6th April          
          10.30 – 12.30
Plug planting & general maintenance
Hedgerows & Dellwood