Densely growing and tall himalayan balsam on a bank

Balsam, hogweed and a picnic

Today’s work party with Stroud Valleys Project was a bit shorter, because we had their annual picnic in the park to look forward to later in the day.

We’ve had a successful summer so far pulling balsam along the canal and river. The plants are in flower now, so it’s a race against time before the seeds disperse.

However, this section of canal was completely covered in tall, tightly packed plantations. Certainly the worst I’ve seen.

A giant hogweed surrounded by a patch of bare earth and himalayan balsam in the background
Uncovering giant hogweed

In addition, there was giant hogweed growing in among it. This is highly toxic and easily the most dangerous plant in the UK to touch. We had to proceed with caution, but Neil, the licensed hogweed terminator was on hand to inject each one with roundup. After they have dispersed their 50,000 seeds, they die. So it’s extremely important to not let them get to seed stage.

The whole section was cleared with a team of about eight volunteers. We’ll be back again next week to clear further along the bank. I suspect next year this site will be scheduled earlier in the season.

In the afternoon we headed over to the Sensory Garden in Stratford Park for the tea and cakes with the wider Stroud Valleys Project team. The food and drink was delicious and it was good to catch up with the tree planting team who I haven’t seen in a while. Stuart has been down in Dartmoor seeking out ancient rainforest, so had some interesting stories to tell.

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