Things have been happening …

… it’s just been hard keeping up. Friends of Brighton Greenway met in July and in August to clear litter, weed and tidy up different areas of Brighton Greenway. It’s been a bit of a strange growing year: very dry in the spring, very hot during early summer, then very high winds and a cool, grey August. This meant that wildflower seeds we sowed in April had a tough time, given the recurrent dry spells. The perennial weeds (oops, sorry, ‘other’ wildflowers) such as thistle, nettle and dock somewhat took over. We’ve ended up with very strong-growing thistle beds. But this is a wildlife corridor, and wildlife of various kinds appreciates thistles, nettle and dock. We’ve seen various butterflies, bees and birds enjoying the area.

It’s great that it’s been possible to move some of Jon Mill’s giant railway tools to the brick pillars nearer the Boston Street entrance. They were getting covered in ivy on some of the pillars further back. Ivy is fantastic for supporting wildlife, not least bees, during the autumn months when the bright flowers of summer have died back, so we didn’t want to strip back the ivy: moving the pillars, though it required some logistical planning, proved to be a better idea.

And at our last session, at the beginning of August, we managed to clear the wildflowers and weeds from around our tree seedlings from the Woodland Trust, planted back in March. I feared that they might have succumbed to being crowded out by all the thistles, but we managed to uncover most of the seedlings planted. They are doing surprisingly well. Clearly the other plants had protected the seedlings from the strong sun, and prevented the soil around them from being completely parched. The majority are growing well.

Our next challenge is going to be cutting back the spent wildflowers in the ‘strip’ and trying to minimise the seed from all those thuggish plants we’ve got there. It’s going to be a war of attrition.

Meanwhile the ornamentals we planted around the central seating area seem to have taken well: lavender, rosemary, verbena bonariensis, chives, thyme, marjoram are growing quite strongly. And the buddleja along the path that we hacked during the winter is now a bit more under control.

Things are rather more jungle-like at the north end of Brighton Greenway where the trees on the New England embankment have been growing strongly and now form a dense leaf canopy. Nettles are now also encroaching on the path, hiding even the tough old rubus cockburnianus. There’s work there for our next session on Saturday 9th September 2.30-5.00. Then the retaining timbers are badly graffitied and the wooden hand rail and cycle rail are both in poor repair, as is the fence on the bridge. We’ve talked to Network Rail and to Brighton & Hove City Council about this, but it’s taking a long time to get anywhere.


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