Matters

Parks & Rangers

Girls Get Active

In April last year we awarded Mid Sussex Active £2,100 for their new 'Girls Get Active' programme, which helps young girls who are at risk of becoming disengaged with exercise to take part in activities in an informal and fun environment.

The project is now in full swing and it was fantastic to see 330 girls from 22 Mid Sussex schools get together at The Triangle leisure centre in Burgess Hill to try out Funky Aerobics, Zumba and Yoga as part of the scheme.

To find out more about the Girls Get Active project visit https://midsussexactive.org.uk/

Bedelands walkways upgraded

If one of your New Year's Resolutions is to be more active and make the most of the beautiful Mid Sussex countryside then a visit to Bedelands Nature Reserve could be just what you need.

The 80 acre Nature Reserve in Burgess Hill consists of ancient meadows, woodland, hedgerows and ponds, which make it a haven for a variety of wildlife. It's a beautiful place for a woodland stroll in peaceful surroundings.

If you haven't visited Bedelands recently then you may not be aware that we made some improvements to the paths last summer to protect them against the wet weather. In the past, areas of Bedelands became boggy during the wet autumn and winter months so we have installed some new wooden boardwalks and rolled stone paths in these areas so that people can enjoy a walk all year round.

The improvements will help walkers to stay clean and dry while they enjoy the nature reserve and they are also suitable for wheelchair users, making more of bedelands accessible to people with disabilities.

Our Park Rangers organise a range of healthy walks, for people of all abilities, at locations across the District. If you would like to find out more about walking in Mid Sussex visit https://www.midsussex.gov.uk/leisure-sport/walking-in-mid-sussex/

New flowerbeds in St John's Park

St Johns Park flower bedLast year we entered St. Johns Park in Burgess Hill for a Green Flag award for the very first time and we were delighted to successfully secure the award in July.

The Green Flag award is the benchmark national standard for publicly accessible parks and green spaces in the United Kingdom. It is a sign to the public that the park boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.

As part of our Green Flag award application we outlined our plans to improve the flower beds in the park in stages over the next few years. The first of these projects is to replace the rose beds at the London Road entrance to the park, which have been in place for over 25 years. 

Our Landscapes team designed and delivered the new plant bedding at the end of 2018. The beds now feature a mixture of shrubs and perennials to give year round colour interest, such as Skimmia, Daphne, Lavender, Yucca, Cornus  Kousa and Achillea, Nepeta, Geum, Echinecea. We have chosen a selection of plants that are insect friendly to attract a large variety of pollinators to the park 

The next planting bed project will take place later this year when we will be redesigning the flower beds around the 'roundabout' walkway in the centre of the park.

Community litter-pickers clean up!

Litter pickingWe would like to say a big thank you to the employees of American Express in Burgess Hill who started the new year in positive fashion by doing some litter-picking at Bedelands Farm Local Nature Reserve.

Our contractors do a great job looking after our busiest parks and open spaces but there are always some areas which cannot be covered as frequently. Sadly there are still people who are frankly too lazy to throw their litter in the bin, so we welcome anyone who is willing to tackle this unsightly issue and do a bit of tidying up.

If you would like to form a group and help to protect the local environment by doing a spot of litter-picking at one of our parks or open spaces then we would love to hear from you.

Litter-picking is an excellent team building challenge. It’s a great opportunity for colleagues to get a bit of light exercise whilst enjoying a change of scenery from their usual office environment, getting outside in the fresh air and doing something positive for the local community and wildlife.

If you’re interested in arranging a litter-picking session for a site near you, please email our Park Rangers at rangers@midsussex.gov.uk. We have a number of litter-picking sticks which we are happy to lend out to groups and we also supply bin bags and agree a convenient place for any bags of litter collected to be left at the end, so that they can be taken away.

It’s a shame that not everybody does the right thing by binning their litter in the first place but we greatly appreciate the valuable help we get from local residents who help us to keep Mid Sussex clean and tidy.

Hazel Coppicing at Blunts Wood Local Nature Reserve

woodanemonesIf you're walking in Blunts Wood nature reserve this month you may come across local volunteers who are busy coppicing hazel trees in the area.

Coppicing is a sustainable and traditional woodland management technique. It can look quite drastic as trees are cut right down to the ground in the winter leaving a ‘stool’ but in the spring the stool regrows a thicket of stems, which will be ready to harvest after a few years. 

In a typical hazel coppice cycle, cutting is done every 7 to 15 years to prolong the lifespan of the trees. If a Hazel is left to grow naturally as a single-stemmed tree it can live for 80 years but with careful coppicing a multi-stemmed stool can live for centuries.

In times gone by, cut hazel stems would have been used for making hurdles to keep in sheep, thatching spars, net stakes and water divining rods. Nowadays, the South of England Hedge Laying Society use the stems as uprights to weave branches between when they’re out laying hedges.

A well-managed coppice opens the woodland floor up to more light, allowing spring flowers such as bluebells, wood anemones, dog violets and celandine to bloom. This is supports many butterfly species, particularly fritillaries and the coppice also provides shelter for ground-nesting birds, such as nightingales and willow warblers.

Hazel trees are great for wildlife in other ways too. Their leaves provide food for many caterpillars and moths including the large emerald and the small white wave and their nuts of course, provide food for dormice, squirrels, woodpeckers, nuthatches, jays, tits and wood pigeons.  Dormice also eat the caterpillars which feed on the spring leaves.

At this time of year Hazel trees are easy to recognise with their male yellow flowers hanging down in distinctive catkins.  Don’t forget to look out for the easily overlooked female flowers too – these are tiny and budlike with red tips known as styles.  Once pollinated, by pollen carried on the wind from another hazel tree, the female flowers develop into the oval fruits or hazel nuts.

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