One of the highlights in the Brockwell Park calendar has recently become the brilliant lido wildlife slope. 2015 is the third summer in which the wild flowers have added a rural look to the lido front. Jason Cobb, Brixton Buzz, June 11, 2015
This year the slope had some setbacks but it seems to have a spirit all of its own and voila! It rose from the grey sludge of winter like a butterfly from a chrysalis.
It was such a blow in September 2013, to have found the Himalayan Balsam during the last season (this is a DEFRA listed weed nuisance) this obligated us to glyphosate again because of its propensity to spread. This year (September 2014) however there was no sign of it and we could go ahead without glyphosating.
So in October 2014, Vinnie O’Connell and his team came to strim down the last of the flowers, it took us 3 days as we were not great experts with the strimmer’s! We left the flower seed to set, and then raked the dead stalks off three weeks later.
The slope then was left fallow for the winter. As it was exceptionally wet, when the Trust Conservation Volunteers, led by Tom Nandi, came to rotivate and weed in February, it was really hard going. The rotivating day was one of almost relentless rain and bitter wind. Some parts toward the far end of the slope were impossible. Tom did what he could and we hoped for the best. When I lookout out on the grey churned up piles of mud in March I was filled with doom. But we put down the extra seed we had collected the previous summer.
Gradually the slope started to ‘green’ and the first real surprise was the wonderful spread of Campion that bloomed in white, pale pink and a darker pink. Then came the wild marigolds and the Californian poppies. The buttercups, chamomile, poppies, corn cockle and cornflowers were next to bloom. Another surprise is the tiny wild geranium and the purple and yellow clumps of vetch. We have Cecilia, Love in a mist, Toadflax, Scarlet pimpernel and some wild grasses that we added. We are now trying to getting a good mix of grasses and wildflowers.
We also have all the thugs of the urban jungle! Teasel, thistle, creeping buttercup, couch grass, fat hen, dock, and this year’s most prolific – the wild mustard. All of which we want in small numbers as they offer something to the invertebrates such as ladybird larvae, moths, beetles etc. but the trick is to manage them.
Many people joke about this being a ‘wild slope’ when they see us carefully cutting out a number of each of the above each week. But we prefer to call it ‘managed wildness’.
Thanks to The Heritage Lottery Fund and Trevor Uprichard who facilitated the funding to 2014/15; Vinnie O’Connell, founder of New Leaf Dulwich; The Conservation Volunteers with Tom Nandi; The Brockwell Park Community Partners for the funding for 2015/16 – which secures another year of maintenance for the Wildflower slope.
We will be selling the wildflower and poppy seed, plus some cards of the wildflower slope and the popular tree towels at the Lambeth Country Show – all the proceeds go towards community events and projects in the Park. There is an ongoing requirement to maintain the wildflower slope which requires funding, and buying in extra seed from a wildflower specialist as we have to introduce new seed to keep the continuation vigorous.
Susy Hogarth, BPCP Secretary.