Buddliea 2006

Buddleia Cutting Sunday 9th April 2006

It was a beautiful sunny day first thing in the morning but by the time we all met at the Black Mill on Hessle Foreshore the clouds had started to appear. The usual group turned out boosted by the scout group from St Matthew’s, who helped us at the tree planting in January, some volunteers who joined us at the Willow Weaving in March and yet more volunteers who turned up for the Willow Weaving in January 2005 only to find that due to a heavy covering of snow the session had been cancelled!

We had been lucky enough to receive a £50 grant from Action Earth for this event which was put to good use in purchasing protective gloves, secateurs and, in case the secateurs got out of hand, a first aid kit! These will all come in handy for the group’s conservation work in the future.

We had a pleasant walk through the country park (spotting some lovely tiny purple violas along the edge of the path, evidence that spring has sprung at last!) and then a steady climb up the 103 steps, as counted by the scouts, to the viewpoint over the ponds. The buddleia on the slope below the viewpoint were cut right back a couple of years ago and will provide a good feeding ground for the butterflies this summer, whereas the buddleia bushes at the top of the slope in the viewing area were badly overgrown.

With plenty of volunteers it looked at first sight as though we’d get it done in no time at all! We split into groups with some cutting off the main buddleia branches with saws whilst others cut the long sawn off branches down into smaller lengths, with loppers and secutars, and piled up the branches to make habitat stacks.

One hour in and still lots to do!

We worked steadily and after an hour or so realised that it was going to take a lot longer than we had at first thought. The mass of branches was enormous; they seemed to be growing horizontally rather than vertically and in parts were intertwined with brambles.

Working hard.

We were about three quarters of the way through when the sky began to darken and a few spots of rain began to fall. Group photo time before the rain came! We just made it and then we all ran for cover as the rain and hail began to fall. As it eased off those that wanted to, got back to work, whist some decided to call it a day at that point and headed off home for a well earned rest. A football had been uncovered amongst the tangled branches – a bit of a bonus for the scouts who had a kick around whist the last few branches were being chopped up!Group photo just before the rain and hail.

It was a satisfying 3 hours work - exercise, fresh air and pleasant company! The difference was impressive - though of course we forgot to take a photograph before we started – too keen to get chopping! It will be good to go back later in the summer and see how the buddleia has regenerated and hopefully spot some peacock butterflies feeding on the lovely purple flowers.

Finished at last - a job well done!

The peacock butterfly is common in the country park. The adults appear in spring after hibernation and are then commonly seen through July and August. The under wings are a smokey brown colour but the upper wings have bold eye-like markings similar to a peacock’s feathers from where it gets its common name.

Peacock butterfly

Buddleia is a common garden shrub as well as being widely naturalised. The showy purple or white flower spikes appear between June and September. If you want to attract butterflies into your garden, plant a buddleia! They can grow up to 4m tall but regular hard pruning in spring will keep them in check and help to increase the number of flower spikes produced.

Buddleia flower spikes showing range of colours.