After a somewhat hesitant start to Spring, it feels like we might be just about there. The lighter evenings and milder temperatures make for a lovely time of year to go outdoor and explore your local green space.
At Panshanger Park the changing of the seasons from Winter to Spring has been gradual but each new sign is exciting to see. The early glimmers of hope came from the snowdrops and daffodils and then the bird song. Now, we can start to see the green haze coming over the trees as the leaves start to burst from their buds.
This Spring might be an opportunity to walk a new area of the park that perhaps you haven’t explored previously. The Chisel Shelf, the bank of woodland South of the river and lakes is looking lovely with the vibrant green glow that is characteristic of the early Spring season. If you follow the main track through the shelf you will be following in the steps of visitors from 200 years ago who would have taken a carriage ride along this track to admire the ‘peaks’ and ‘bursts’ of views looking down the valley.
In recent years these have gradually overgrown but at the start of this year the ‘Repton’ burst, halfway along the Chisel Shelf, was opened back up to once again frame a lovely view. Thanks to the hard work and combined efforts of a corporate volunteering day from Tarmac, and work parties with the Friends of Panshanger Park volunteers and Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust volunteers this burst, now clear of scrubby vegetation and straggly saplings, allows light to the ground flora, which is good for biodiversity, as well as opening up the historic view.
Other works along the Chisel Shelf has recently included the thinning of the woodland to the West of the bank by the Maydencroft ranger’s team. The chaps have been busy felling some trees, increasing the light levels reaching the woodland floor. A number of trees were also pollarded or coppiced, a traditional management technique to provide a diversity of habitats throughout the woodland. All aiding the general health of the woodland.
Tree guards are also steadily being removed from the site with the most recent volunteer work party focussing on the section to the East of the bank. Tree guards can help saplings have a safer start to life being protected from grazers such as rabbits and deer. But once the trees are big enough they need to be removed.
Jo Whitaker is the Panshanger Park People and Wildlife Officer.
She works for Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and her role is funded by Tarmac.