The Upper Orchid Field

 


The Upper Orchid Field


Last month we discussed Meadows – how important they are and yet how they are fast disappearing. This month we shall give some background on the Upper Orchid Field and how we got to where we are today. The history of the Upper Orchid Field beyond around 15 years ago is unknown although if anyone has any information or memories about it please get in touch with the Wildlife Group. At that stage it was known as the Sledging Field and on the odd occasion that snow still falls it is great that people can use it for that purpose. The field was purchased by the Vale of Glamorgan Council at the time they purchased Whitehall Quarry for landfill along with some other adjacent fields. The Public Right of Way along the bottom of the field has been used, probably for centuries as an important link between Twyn yr Odyn and Wenvoe. A decade ago some who walked along the path noticed that the field was becoming increasingly overgrown and at this point most of the slope was covered in Ash trees. Left to its own devices it would have become woodland.

It was suggested that an approach be made to VoGC to take over maintenance of the field and with a sympathetic response from the Council the Wildlife Group was started. In 2013 a formal licence was agreed. This licence stated that the Council would cut the field and the Wildlife Group would help with recording wildlife, creating and maintaining paths, and helping to restore the meadow. A few years later the Council indicated that they could no longer afford to cut the field and this role was taken over by WWG. Currently a contractor cuts the hay meadow annually and the costs are shared between WWG and the Community Council.

Over the last 10 years noticeboards and benches have been installed, new paths and accesses created; bird and bat boxes put up and trees planted around the periphery. Over 400 species have been recorded and the meadow is designated a SINC – a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation. This does not give legal protection but it means this designation should be considered in any land use planning decision. However no-one should be under any illusion that the site is safe from development or take-over by a third party. The site has received 8 Green Flag awards and numerous other certificates and accolades. Not least it is enjoyed daily by a large number of walkers, joggers, dog-walkers and other visitors.

Other than the shared cost of the annual cut referred to earlier WWG receive no financial or technical support in looking after the field and rely wholly on volunteers, a significant proportion coming from

outside the Parish including Dinas Powys, Radyr, Penarth and Cardiff. This year the Working Party have made inroads into the steady spread of brambles on the edges and hopefully the annual cut will help to consolidate this progress. Wildflower seed will also be harvested this year and used to create new meadows elsewhere in the Vale of Glamorgan. There is always masses of work to be done so if you can spare the odd moment to help out, do contact the Wildlife Group and help to ensure that we continue to get the benefit of this local treasure.

 



 

A record -7 Green Flags!!

 

Wenvoe Wildlife Group


A record for Wales and for Britain

7 Green Flags!! A record for us as a village, for Wales and for Britain. Previously we have achieved 6 Green Flag awards, judged and managed by Keep Wales Tidy but the addition of the Bee Loud Glade made it 7 – a site for every day of the week. A thank you to all those who have helped with the often challenging maintenance of the sites and the Reader family who own 5 of them and the Vale of Glamorgan Council who own two. Not only do we have far more awards than any other village in Wales but even many towns.

Donations are always welcome and we have received recently Wildflower Seeds from a local resident, two Cherry Trees and some slates from Radyr, Echinacea and Penstemon plants from Dinas Powys and a wheelbarrow wheel and mattock from Barry. We have been the first group to deploy Micromoth detectors in the Barbastelle Project aimed at seeing if this rare bat is anywhere to be found in the Vale. The Upper Orchid Field and Community Orchard are to be mowed and the wildflower seeds extracted for use elsewhere with the Upper Orchid Field receiving its full cut later in September. Benches in the Community Orchard and Welsh Orchard have exceeded their lifespan so if there are any spare benches that people are happy to donate they will be put to a good use.

Plenty of fruit is starting to mature in the orchards including Plums, Pears, Damsons and Bullace. One of our more recent apples, Nant Gwrtheryn, from the Llyn Peninsular, has produced its first good crop but will not be ready to taste until later this month (see photo). Least successful have been our Quinces – none of the 4 trees look very vigorous but we live in hope. There is the odd Quince doing OK in the village but the orchards may be a little more exposed and windy

 

 



 

Gardening Tips for September

THE VILLAGE GARDENER

Must Do Gardening Tips for September


Tips from Carol Evans of Life Beyond the Patio.

  1. Let parts of your lawn go wild for a few weeks.
  2. Mow above mentioned parts before you get stung or bitten by the insects.
  3. Make sure your pots are off the ground as wetter weather is on the way.
  4. Collected rain water is perfect for acid loving plants such as camellia.
  5. Collected seed must be kept dry, use a sealed tin with some powdered milk to keep moisture at bay.

 

What to do, by have you got a pen Gwyn Williams.

  1. Plant daffodils this month to be sure of a good spring display.
  2. If a tradesman says he can start work the following day, be wary as all the good ones are busy.
  3. Keep drains clear of fallen leaves as Autumn approaches
  4. Try to leave the cutting back of shrubs as long as possible otherwise you will be doing them again before Winter.
  5. Put your glasses on before weeding or some of your precious plants will end up in the green bag.

 

September is a good month to sort problems out with your lawn, by either sowing seed or laying turf. Leather jackets are more of a problem on lawns with poor drainage. This larvae of the crane fly leaves dead patches on your lawn as they consume the grass roots. The only effective way of controlling this is with the right nematodes. To find out if they are the cause of the damage to your lawn, put a damp cloth over the area of concern and remove it in the early morning. you will see the larvae on the surface. When you see crows on the grass at this time of year this is what they are mainly searching for. Do not put a high nitrogen feed on the lawn at this time of year however tempting it is to use fertiliser you have left over from the summer. The high nitrogen content will promote top growth and weaken the grass. Always use a feed high in potassium, this will strengthen the root system and keep the grass healthy through the colder months.

The experts say that daffodils along with crocus and hyacinths should be planted by the middle of September to make sure you get good blooms in the Spring. Hold back a while on the tulips as they tend to rot if planted too early. One of the main reasons for a poor show is that bulbs are planted too shallowly, so always follow the instructions on the packet.

Continue to collect seed, as packeted seed seems to be a lot more expensive now for very few seeds. Dividing herbaceous perennials is a good way to get extra plants and to get rid of the dead material in the middle.

On allotments and veg patches harvesting is in full swing. Check apples are ripe by pulling gently, they should come away easily. Take any bad fruit off to stop disease spreading. Keep potting up strawberry runners. Take hardwood cuttings of currants and gooseberries now. Order bare root fruit bushes and trees, they are cheaper and will produce fruit next year. When the beans and peas have finished cut down to ground level but leave roots in ground as they will add nitrogen to the soil. Sow green manures on bare soil, this will help keep the weeds down over Winter and can then be dug in to improve the soil.

Over the past year I have received a lot of feedback from walkers who pass through and by the allotments. They have commented on how well kept they are. Some have asked if the man sitting against the tin sheets by the notice board has big hands or a small spade, they were hesitant to approach because he seemed so peaceful contemplating where to plant his next row of cabbages. I’ve told them who you are H, so expect to be signing autographs.

Take care and happy gardening

 



 

A Dedicated Small Contingent

VILLAGE ENVIRONMENT GROUP


Where to start…. A small contingent set off for the cenotaph and cut back the hedge. Dedication is a big plus with this group as shown by Brian, who delayed his wild water swimming, and Ieuan, who astounded the doctors by recovering in double quick time to be ready for duty.

The main group finished off the work from last month on Pound Lane. We were assisted by Tall Tony who joined the team today. Martin went out early to clear a path for the rest of us. Gareth meanwhile kept losing his equipment in the triangle. Alan and Big John have done many tours with the working party, so nothing phases them. Ian made sure that the area was ship-shape before allowing us to go.

This eclectic team of volunteers have for years tried to make a difference by tidying up around the village. The team meets on the second Monday of each month. Wenvoe has grown a lot over the years so, even if you can’t make the days when we meet, anything you can do to help improve your surroundings will benefit everyone. Litter pickers were out in force during early August so hats off to everyone; it can be a thankless task.

Our next meeting will be on 13th Sept at 9.30. We will meet on the village green where we will prioritise what needs doing. At present our main areas of concern are footpaths leading to the playing fields, the border in front of the community centre and bamboo in the cemetery

 



 

National Meadows Week

National Meadows Week


We celebrated National Meadows Week in July with a ‘walk and talk’ around the Upper Orchid Field. We are fortunate to have this facility on our doorstep and it is well used by visitors, dog-walkers and joggers whilst providing a haven for wildlife. The UK has lost around 97% of its wildflower meadows in the last 100 years and there are few remaining examples around Cardiff and the Vale.

So, what is a ‘meadow’? It is an open area with herbaceous and other non-woody plants and from which a hay crop is taken every year. It is not grazed by livestock. Fields which are grazed are referred to as ‘pasture’. The vast majority of the non-arable fields in Wenvoe are pasture, mainly grass and with minimal biodiversity.

Hay meadows are an important element in mankind’s cultural and social evolution. Finding food for livestock over Winter was never easy but once we had developed the tools like sickles to be able to take a hay crop, cattle, sheep and goats could be kept in enclosures during the coldest months and fed the stored hay. And so, we had haystacks, hayricks and barns.

The hay meadows attracted plants that would grow happily in grass, would set seed and then be cut in the Autumn for storage. These flower varieties are very different from the weeds of arable (ploughed) fields like Poppies, Corncockle and Cornflower. In contrast on the Upper Orchid Field you will find Primroses, Cowslips, Knapweeds, Agrimony and, of course, Orchids, along with over 100 varieties of herbs and grasses.

This range of species is ideal for our threatened bees and other pollinators and the disappearance of our meadows is one of the reasons for the decline of our insects – a crisis which we are warned about daily by scientists. Meadows also act as a carbon sink – another topical issue. In next month’s issue we shall say a bit more about the Upper Orchid Field – who owns it, what its status is and what the Wildlife Group are doing to preserve it. In the meantime, enjoy the field and its flowers and trees. On our walk we found Bee Orchids – a wonderful but easily overlooked little plant. What can you find?

The Upper Orchid Field

 



 

A Lot More Work Needed

VILLAGE ENVIRONMENT GROUP


On a miserable July morning the team were joined by Lowri, pictured here with her dad. They set about clearing the pavement that runs down alongside the old quarry road. Lowri showing true team spirit having travelled down from London to help.

At the other end of the village team B started work on the Wenvoe triangle at the bottom of Pound Lane. Like the Bermuda triangle team members in the past have gone in there and not come out. A lot more work is needed here, so if team members could meet there on Monday 9th August at 9.30 that would be great

 



 

Green Flag Judging

Wenvoe Wildlife Group


Green Flag Judging


It has been a frenetic few weeks as we prepared for Green Flag judging on some of our sites. As gardeners will know the weather has contributed to a mass of vegetation and it has been a challenge to keep paths open. Green Flags are for open spaces, the equivalent of a Blue Flag for a beach, and factors taken into account include ease of access, information on site, tidiness and biodiversity. The scheme is run by Keep Wales Tidy and this year we have applied for 7 awards. The next highest village in Wales has two! The results will not be out until late Summer/early Autumn, but we are keeping our fingers crossed. The photo shows our judge at the Bee Loud Glade.

We are now involved with the Barbastelle project for the Vale of Glamorgan. This woodland bat has not been recorded yet in the Vale, so a programme has been set up to deploy special bat recorders in 10 locations around the county. We shall be looking after two of them. This involves installing the recorders which are about twice the size of a credit card, changing the batteries every 3 weeks and downloading the data – this goes on for a year! Anyone wanting to help with the project can contact the Wildlife Group.

And, finally, our thanks to those who have donated items to the group. We have received wildflower seeds from a resident in the village, plants from Dinas Powys and two Cherry Trees and some slate tiles from Radyr.

 

 



 

Green Flag Judging

Wenvoe Wildlife Group

Green Flag Judging


It has been a frenetic few weeks as we prepared for Green Flag judging on some of our sites. As gardeners will know the weather has contributed to a mass of vegetation and it has been a challenge to keep paths open. Green Flags are for open spaces, the equivalent of a Blue Flag for a beach, and factors taken into account include ease of access, information on site, tidiness and biodiversity. The scheme is run by Keep Wales Tidy and this year we have applied for 7 awards. The next highest village in Wales has two! The results will not be out until late Summer/early Autumn, but we are keeping our fingers crossed. The photo shows our judge at the Bee Loud Glade.

We are now involved with the Barbastelle project for the Vale of Glamorgan. This woodland bat has not been recorded yet in the Vale, so a programme has been set up to deploy special bat recorders in 10 locations around the county. We shall be looking after two of them. This involves installing the recorders which are about twice the size of a credit card, changing the batteries every 3 weeks and downloading the data – this goes on for a year! Anyone wanting to help with the project can contact the Wildlife Group.

And, finally, our thanks to those who have donated items to the group. We have received wildflower seeds from a resident in the village, plants from Dinas Powys and two Cherry Trees and some slate tiles from Radyr.

 


 

Gardening Tips for August

THE VILLAGE GARDENER

Must Do Gardening Tips for August


Grow your own experts Shirley & Graham Hammond, tips for August:

  1. Dry harvested onions thoroughly, or they will rot when stored.
  2. Pinch off the tops of runner beans to encourage side shoots.
  3. Take cuttings of mint, rosemary and sage.
  4. Spray ground elder when it is growing strongly. Very hard to get rid of.
  5. Sow a green manure when space becomes available.

Betty Facey, who has a lovely garden and a lawn like Wimbledon, has some good advice.

  1. Cut back faded perennials to keep the garden neat and tidy.
  2. Prune climbing roses, unless repeat flowering.
  3. Water camellias and rhododendrons to ensure buds develop.
  4. Trim lavender plants to preserve shape.
  5. Do not attempt to water the lawns as you will never have enough time to do it justice.

Hope your tomatoes are in good shape; you need to pinch out the tops so that plants can use their energy to produce fruit. Watering constantly will stop blossom end rot and reduce splitting. With broad beans having been harvested, you can cut the stalk down to the base and on a good year they will have time to produce a lighter crop. There is still plenty of time to sow lettuce that will be available to crop before it gets too cold. After 4 years or so strawberry plants weaken and produce less, so now is the time to root the runners being produced to fill in for the older plants.

A lot of lawns can look straw coloured in prolonged dry spells. Grass is so tough and can withstand a lot of abuse. By attempting to water it you may well be doing more harm than good, unless you’re prepared to water for hours at a time. By not watering enough you will encourage roots to come to the surface. then at the next dry spell the grass will really suffer.

Prolong the flower displays by constant deadheading and regular feeding especially the hanging baskets, which should last well into the Autumn. Aphids were quite a problem this year, made worse by the late arrival of ladybirds and their larvae. They can be controlled by just wiping them off with your fingers or by making up a solution of water and white vinegar and spray on both sides of leaves. Dahlias are coming into their own at this time of year but be sure to tie them to strong stakes as the wind and rain can play havoc with them. Cut back all the whippy side shoots of wisteria to about 20cms; if you don’t do this you will have less flowers year on year.

Going wild is being promoted a lot in the media and some Wenvoe residents have thrown themselves into it to differing degrees. Jill & Ryland have been turning over part of their front garden to wild flowers and it looks lovely. On the other hand, Pete Ferris has created a wilderness garden at the rear of his abode. Wild animals flourish in the dense foliage. Pete has a rope tied to the handle of the patio door and when he ventures into the undergrowth, he has to tie the other end to himself or he would never find his way back.

Take care and happy gardening

 

 



 

Dragons and Damsels

Dragonflies and Damselflies


From warmer days in May onwards you could find Dragonflies in your garden. Whilst it helps if you have a pond, they can fly some distance so most gardens will receive a visit. Dragonflies are bigger insects and usually rest with their wings stretched out at 90 degrees to their body. Damselflies are much daintier and mainly rest with their wings alongside their bodies.

If you do not have a pond the best places to see the larger Dragonflies are either the pond in the Community Orchard off Station Road or the Salmon Leaps. One of our largest Dragonflies, the Emperor, can be found on the Salmon Leaps ponds, patrolling up and down and catching smaller insects in mid-air. If you walk through the woods to the Salmon Leaps you might also see two very attractive Damselflies, the Banded and Beautiful Demoiselles.

Dragonflies lay their eggs often under water or near the surface and the larvae can take anything from 2- 3 months to 5 years to mature during which time they are voracious predators eating worms, snails, leeches, tadpoles and even small fish.

 

 

When ready to emerge the larvae climb up vegetation and the adult insects breaks out of the larval skin. You will often see exuvia on these plants which is the remaining skin once the adult has flown off. Dragonflies were one of the first winged insects to evolve and this was around 300 million years ago and some of these were the size of our seagulls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

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