Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Lesser Celandine

During the clean-up in March, a pretty yellow flower was spotted beneath the brambles and the rubbish. There was some discussion as to what the flower was. It was lesser celandine.

Lesser celandine cover the valley and
provide colour and food on a warm April day.

It's a low-growing plant that is related to the buttercup. It features heart-shaped leaves and bright yellow flowers. The plant prefers bare, damp ground, which is why it can be seen lining the banks of the stream in the valley.

The quality that the lesser celandine is most well-known for is its early flowers; the yellow blooms are often regarded as a sign of spring. Because of this it's made it's way into a lot of literature, such as The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. As the eternal winter melts away, celandines appear in the forests of Narnia.

Another name for the plant is pilewort, as it was thought to be a cure for haemorrhoids. The early leaves, which are rich in vitamin C, were also used as a treatment for scurvy. In the Broadlands Valley Greenway it does not get used for medicine, but the flowers instead provide food for insects, such as peacock butterflies.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

March's meeting

Yesterday, we met in Sainsbury's, Portswood. It's the first time we've been able to meet in 2015; I've been shocked at how quickly the first few months have disappeared. In this meeting, we got constitutional and we went detective over land boundaries.

We looked at getting a constitution for our group. This would allow us to have structure and give people certain roles that will help maintain the running of the project. We are to be a 'Friends of' group and we think we've sorted out Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer. We need to get our constitution written up before it's all set in stone, though. There some interesting parts of what a constitution needs to entail, but a lot of it was just working out the nitty-gritties of setting up such a group and deciding on aims and how we run.

Detective work
In a previous post about next steps, we mentioned that we'd like to improve the boundaries down one end of the path. They're flanked by nasty and warped corrugated metal, which is potentially dangerous and just ugly. However, this meant looking at boundaries and who own what. There were some surprises that the land registry documents had for us.

  1. It's not clear who owns the boundaries there. There is a 1929 document about an exchange of land between three parties, including the mayor, but which way the land went was unclear.
  2. The Broadlands Valley Greenway only covers two thirds of the area we thought it did. The boundary runs along the stream, with the south side of the stream being of unknown ownership.
  3. There is a square of land, downstream and separate from the rest, that is a part of the Broadlands Valley area.
More sleuthing is needed to find out if this has changed or who owns what. There is a substation on the mystery plot that means that area may belong to the utility company that manages that site.

Other thoughts and ideas
We discusses some ideas for activities, mainly involving bats (costumes were suggested at this point as well) and setting up a management plan for the area.

We also need to set up a work party date and a date for our next meeting.

Sunday, 8 March 2015


It's been a bit of a dry season, with the old Broadlands Valley project. Winter meant that we had to put a hiatus on outside work, and we've not got round to arranging a meeting. Until now...

We've got a meeting on Tuesday 10th at our local Sainsbury's. We'll be thinking about what happens next, and we may even be putting to paper some constitutional roles.

I'll keep you up to date one what is decided and what will be happening later.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Next Steps

There are a few areas that we are considering working on. First, our amazing groundwork buddy, Chris, is going to find out who owns the boundaries to either side of the path. At the moment, one entrance to the greenway is lined with ugly, wobbly and dangerous sheets of corrugated iron. We'd like to replace these with something safer and more attractive.

In our first work party, we cleared some of the stream to the west of the path. Next time, we'll may look to maintain the banks and area surrounding this area of the stream and perhaps even introduce more diversity into the fauna.

We're not going to be meeting now until the new year, but check out our Facebook page to see what is going on.

First small steps

Today marked our first opportunity to get going with the Broadlands Valley Greenway Project. We had a two hour slot, in which with had a few main jobs.

First, we wanted to clear the path of leaf litter. As winter is fast approaching, the frosty mornings will make any leaf mulch into a slippery death-trap. As this path is used by families on their way to and from school and Portswood Rec, safety is a large focus of what we'll be doing. Also, by maintaining the paths, the seem wider and more accessible.

The path can be quite dark and oppressive in places, so one way to combat this is by removing some of the overhanging branches. Andy, obviously relishing the opportunity to use the long saws, got on with this job.

One of the most attractive features in the Broadlands Valley is the stream. Due to the pernicious brambles, a lot of it was covered. So another task was to clear this. Thomas and some of the kids tackled this job.

Where's the stream?

We've found it!
There was about a dozen of us over all, five of them being children (although a lot of the adults fall into the big kids category). The kids were troupers, enthusiastic about any task we got them involved with. They were happy picking litter or cutting brambles in the stream.

We were all impressed with the progress we made in such a short time. This has definitely given us a better idea of what can be achieve and what needs doing.

For more images, see our Facebook page.