CONTROL OF PROSCRIBED WEEDS
AT FROMUS VALLEY RESERVE (2022)
Although no longer registered with the Soil Association, at Simpson’s Fromus Valley Reserve, Kelsale, the Suffolk Flora Preservation Trust follows a regime that is effectively ‘organic’ — intentionally preserving the management system in place on these Mediaeval meadows in Mediaeval times. We therefore eschew all herbicides. One challenge is to combat the inevitable spread of vigorous herbaceous weeds of grassland, including the proscribed species Ragwort Senecio jacobaea and Creeping thistle Cirsium arvense. In this exceedingly dry year, 2022, these two plants have sprung into prominence on some key Meadows, potentially restricting their use by our small but important herd of British White cattle, and risking anathema from occupiers of adjacent land.
On 20th July — an exceptionally hot, dry, breezy day — three stalwart siblings, Campion, Valerian and Petal Mitchell Cotts, bent their backs in truly Mediaeval mode, on ‘Butchers’, TM 3866 2757, to cut and clear the abundant growth of Ragwort, and to remove the flowering heads of Creeping Thistle. With the help of John Fisher, SFPT Hon Treasurer, the cut plants were bagged (seven full black bin-bags) and removed and, it is intended, will be burned on a controlled bonfire.
|The Ragwort team in action on Butchers||15m cleared along the West hedgeline:|
|decapitated thistles still standing|
In three hours of back-bending work, the team cleared a strip some 15m wide along the wet hedgeline, but — as these images show — this notable effort serves to emphasise the outstanding problem. As soon as possible, before Ragwort seeds and thistledown are blown by the winds, more help is needed. Volunteers are urged to contact the Trust’s Secretary, at SecretarySFPT@protonmail.com.