Eaglesfield Pond – Gardeners Wanted

Eaglesfield Gardeners at the Lilly Pond March 2012
Eaglesfield Gardeners at the Lilly Pond

The Friends of Eaglesfield Park would welcome help on Sunday (25th May) with their ongoing work in the wild flower meadow surrounding the Lilly Pond. Madeleine wrote with the details:

Regular Monthly Tidy up/Pond Dipping Sessions
The Friends of Eaglesfield Park (FOEP) continue working to ensure the pond and meadow are an environmentally friendly haven for wildlife which will also provide a peaceful setting for contemplation and wildlife observation for the local community and visitors to the park.

In less than 2 years since the official Opening of the Pond it is amazing how important the pond and meadow have become to our local wildlife and how much pleasure it provides the “human” visitor.

This Spring we are seeing an increase in  pond creatures – frogs, newts, insects, butterflies and birds and the POND DIPPING PLATFORM enables access for studying the pond life.  We would like to see more children (and adults!) take advantage of the Pond Dipping facilities and are looking at ways in which this can be achieved.

All this requires some kind of a regular maintenance programme. Last year the FOEP introduced a regular “Tidy Up/Pond Dipping Session” on the Last Sunday of the Month, 11 am – 1 pm and we would like to continue this, if possible.  Sadly this year on 30th March and 27th April there were few troops on the ground!  However the few of us accomplished quite a lot and made a difference.

We cleared various areas and planted Yellow Rattle plug plants.  These feed on grass roots and will hopefully reduce some of the grasses to enable more wild flower seeds to germinate.

It would be great though to see a few more gardeners, or litter pickers, or pond dippers!  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and hope more people will join us next time.

In order for the pond and meadow to flourish we cannot leave it completely to Nature!  We do need to ensure the pond is regularly cleaned and its plants are thinned out and the meadow is properly maintained, including removal of  invasive weeds, sowing seeds and planting wildflowers.  And , of course, we shouldn’t forget the litter picking of assorted empty drink cans and bottles!

The Friends plan to meet each month to work at the pond.  The dates for the rest of the year are: 25th May, 29th June, 27th July, 31st August, 28th September and 26th October (assuming  availability of Friends committee volunteers). I’ve added the dates to the events calendar over on the right.

As well as their work on the pond, the Friends have recently relaunched their web site and have joined twitter as @FOEP1.

Grand Opening of the Lilly Pond 15 June 2012
Grand Opening of the Lilly Pond 15 June 2012

Looking through my Flickr sequence of photographs showing how the pond has changed I’m impressed by how much the Friends have achieved in transforming the dried-up, overgrown historic Lilly Pond into what it is today. The pond goes back well over a hundred years. It is shown on the 1866 ordinance survey map in the corner of the pleasure gardens behind the original Bull Hotel, which stood in the area around where the water tower now stands. It’s great that it has been brought back to life.

The problem the Friends are facing at the moment is that the soil around the pond is really too fertile for a wild flower meadow, and vigorous grasses are able to out-compete the wild flowers. One solution to this is to reduce the garden’s fertility by removing the top layers of soil, but the Friends have chosen to try to reduce the vigour of the grasses using the hemi-parasitic meadow plant Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor). Yellow Rattle, or Cockscomb, is a partial parasite that gains some of its nutrients from the roots of neighbouring plants. Its roots lock on to the roots of surrounding grasses, taking their nutrients and restricting their growth, increasing the meadow’s biodiversity.

The Friends will be meeting at 11.00am on Sunday to tidy the area around the pond and continue the creation of the wild flower meadow. They’d love to see as many people as possible to help.

Mallards at Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond
Mallards at Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond

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