Phase 3: Planting (2nd April)
The final phase of the work at Kingston University was to give nature a little assistance by planting up the newly installed brash and gravels. A wide selection of native, locally found species were selected and bought in from a reputable supplier in both plug and 0.5 litre pots. In total we had nearly 1300 plants to introduce and so once again a fantastic turn out of volunteers was an absolute blessing. Many of those that turned up for the planting had taken part in the other phases of the project and were keen to see it through to completion. The plant mix consisted of yellow flag iris, greater sedge, lesser sedge and bur reed which were planted in the gravel and into the brash watercress, fools watercress, water forget me not, water mint and marsh marigold.
With the works only recently completed, the brash, although starting to fill with silt, really could have done with a little longer before planting. To assist the species going into the brash somewhat of a novel technique was adopted. Using hessian (jute) sheets, hessian twine and a bulk bag of clay loam soil, the team made up hundreds of nutrient rich goodie bags to see the plants through until the silt naturally accumulates. This consisted of a handful of the soil being placed into the hessian, two or three plugs placed on top and then the whole lot bundled together, secured with twine and then wedged into crevices between the brash. Some of the packaged bundles turned out to be works of art.
The species that were planted in the gravel received a similar treatment. A hole in the gravel was made with a spade, a dollop of the clay loam deposited in the bottom, the plant placed on top and then gravel pulled over to retain it in place.
The final task was to protect the small, vulnerable plants until they have had the chance to establish. In order to do so, fencing was required on two fronts, chicken wire on the river side to prevent wildfowl from eating the plants and barrier fence on the university side to prevent the plants from being trampled by enthusiastic/drunk student explorers.
The project is now complete. We have now done our work in creating the basis for the wetland, we now need nature to do its role and develop these raw materials into a rich and diverse habitat offering benefits for all flora and fauna to include invertebrates, birds, bats and fish.
This project marks the end of Rachel Burgess’s time at Kingston University. She has put in an enormous amount of work into this project and will be leaving a great legacy behind her. Once again a massive thanks to all those that helped in this final planting day: Suzanne, Helen, Bill, Mark, Jean, Sue, Iaroseowa, Charles, Sian, Lauren, Ben B, Reenal, Sivi, James, Marianne, Ben T and Pablo.