Whilst it is said that the English like to talk about the weather there is no getting away from the fact that this year the seasons have been somewhat askew. Following a long and chilly winter, spring was very late indeed in putting in its appearance and, initially, there was little grass for the cattle. Summer turned out to be glorious and the fine weather continued into September before turning wet. The grass, which at that time of year usually stops growing, continued to fatten the riverside cattle.
With the last month of the year upon us and Christmas looming large, winter should be setting in and yet we are still enjoying the last of the wonderful colours associated with autumn. Although many of the days have been dull, drizzly and dreary when the sun has shone those colours have looked spectacular. Of course, some trees do autumn rather better than others. There are those that are in rather a hurry to become bare and leafless such as the ash and others that don’t lose much chlorophyll from their leaves before dropping them. The field maples, however, have looked stunning in the late autumn sunshine lighting up the hedgerows and the riverside walks with their vivid yellow leaves. On the Valley Trail and in CornardCountryPark cherries have added rusting reds while the Croft oaks have looked stunning in their array of colours. Providing next spring arrives on time this welcome late autumn colour might make the winter seem just a little shorter.
Work continues on the riverside to deal with storm blown trees with useful wood being removed and the rest stacked to rot down in habitat piles for wildlife. On the Cornard riverside, in addition to the wind-blown trees, further cricket bat willows have had to be felled as they have succumbed to Watermark disease. It is important to fell and burn these trees in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease which is currently entrenched on that area of the riverside. The photograph shows disease stained willow wood on the fire. The staining renders the timber useless for making cricket bats. Unfortunately as willow wood ‘spits’ when burned it is unsalable as a household fuel. Silver birch and common alders have been planted to take the place of the felled willows and these, when mature, will provide an attractive ‘larder’ of seeds through the winter for a range of small birds.
The clearing up work has been helped along greatly by the stalwart members of the Riverside Projects Team who have been meeting every Tuesday to deal with the extra work instead of just twice a month. While many people in life seem to enjoy finding fault, however small and irrelevant, the team members just get stuck in and provide an outstanding service to the community. The recognition at the Greenest County Awards as the winners of the ‘Landscape and Biodiversity’ section last year was richly deserved.