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Welcome to the West Wickham Commons Newsletter covering West Wickham Common and Spring Park. FacebookTwitterYouTubeWebsiteEmail
Butcher’s broom; a peculiar winter plant
Found amongst the trees on West Wickham Common, butcher’s broom is an evergreen shrub with bright red berries lending a bit of colour and cheer to the darker winter months. As you may guess from the name, this festive-looking plant was once used to scrub clean butchers blocks, long before the days of plastic bristles and disinfectant.
The spikey leaves of this curious plant are not actually leaves at all, but adapted branches called cladodes. Even more curiously, they function just as a true leaf would! Historically, this plant has also been used for its medicinal purposes. Various parts of the plant have been used to treat gangrene, circulatory problems, swelling, kidney stones and much more!
Achievements over the past 10 yearsWe have come to the end of both our 10 year management plan and 10 year countryside stewardship scheme. Over the past decade, there have been some amazing achievements towards making both Spring Park and West Wickham Common more biodiverse and welcoming to visitors. Some of the key achievements are detailed below, to name but a few:
West Wickham CommonAnnual condition assessments of the Common’s 15 ancient oak pollards have been carried out to extend the lives of these ancients.Holly clearance, canopy thinning and planting in the secondary woodland has increased biodiversity and the creation of glades has encouraged wildflowers and butterflies.Successfully preserving and extending the heath throughout the Earthworks by spreading heather seed and translocation of young plants, protecting this fragile habitat.A new interpretation panel was installed to showcase the Earthworks’, exploring the historic origins and mystery of the undated mounds, banks and ditches on the Common.Annual butterfly transects have recorded 25 species of butterflies throughout the woods and across the heath, contributing to the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme.
Spring ParkA full 16-year chestnut coppice rotation has been completed in woods adjacent to Woodland Way. The first decade of a 10-year hazel coppice rotation has also been met and the second decade is progressing well. Heavy horses were used to extract the timber.The West Wickham and Spring Park Volunteers (WWaSPs) and staff planted a 150m stretch of hedgerow to provide a corridor for wildlife and restore the boundary between the two historic meadows.Spring Park is proposed to become a Regionally Important Geographical and Geomorphological Site (RIGGS), recognising the significance of the underlying geology. A geotrail was developed with the London Geodiversity Partnership to celebrate the sites unique geology.
Where have all the butterflies gone?
With the first frosts starting to add twinkle and bite to autumn mornings, warm summer days filled with a bonanza of butterflies are fading to distant memories…but just where exactly do all the butterflies go? Anna Guerin from the London Wildlife Trust explains all:
Unlike us, butterflies are more akin to reptiles in that they rely on external sources of heat to warm their bodies and stay active, so cold winter temperatures could spell trouble. Migrant species who take their summer holidays in Britain such as painted ladies and clouded yellows have already packed their bags and flown south to sunnier climes but what of those that remain? Luckily, resident butterflies have evolved to deal with seasonality by entering a dormant phase, referred to as overwintering, and often likened to hibernation. This dormancy can either be as an adult butterfly, caterpillar (larva), pupa (chrysalis) or egg and varies according to species.
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The City of London Corporation has seven green spaces in South London and Surrey covered by three charities: Ashtead Common, Coulsdon Commons and West Wickham Commons. Each charity has its own Newsletter and you can now:
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