The grass may have stopped growing with all of the frosts we’ve been having, but that doesn’t mean that the greens team can take it easy over winter! We’re well underway with our annual winter conservation work here at Cumberwell and there’s still plenty more to do.
Throughout January we have continued the planting programme on the Par 3 course. Further blocks of hawthorn, blackthorn and cotoneaster have been planted which will help to add definition between the fairways. A seventy metre hedgerow has also been planted using a ‘Stewardship’ species mix including: hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, guilder rose and spindleberry. The hedgerow makes for a more natural looking border to the course and also provides a wildlife corridor for mammals to move around more freely.
The flowerbeds surrounding the island green lake are now well established and the dogwood will provide a vibrant colour display in the coming year. We have been adding woodchip mulch to the beds and around the base of the newly planted trees, helping to reduce weed establishment and aiding in water retention around the roots in the dryer summer months.
The rockery surrounding the amphibian ponds on the main driveway has now been planted with an array of grasses and ground cover, and will provide an eye catching display this coming summer.
Conservation work has also started on the main course with the coppicing of hazel. By reducing hazel stands down to a stump we can increase light to surrounding plants and encourage new growth. Coppicing also allows dead and diseased wood to be removed and helps to extend the life of the plant. We don’t remove every hazel stand each year as the course would lose some definition and character (and because there are so many!), but instead coppice selected individuals. We will also be thinning out other hedgerows in the weeks to come, particularly those surrounding greens. Opening up areas around greens will increase airflow and light, encouraging stronger greens with less disease.
Ditches around the course will also be cleaned out shortly as plants and silt have reduced the water flow.
Our tree survey is always ongoing and aims to ensure all of our established and ancient trees are safe around areas of play. Some of the trees around the car park have now reached maturity and are beginning to encroach on each other. We will be removing some of these trees to preserve and encourage the remaining specimens.
The birds at Cumberwell don’t get forgotten over the winter months either. During February we will be cleaning out and checking the condition of our smaller bird boxes. These boxes are occupied by blue tits and great tits and usually have a high occupancy rate. We will be repairing and replacing these as appropriate to encourage more birds to the course. The larger boxes for the owls and kestrels will also be checked and the bedding refreshed for the coming season.
So there’s plenty of conservation work to be done in the coming weeks and hopefully you’ll be seeing the fruits of our labours as you’re playing in the, hopefully, much warmer summer!
Jon Keepen – Head of Conservation