Author Archives: pen-admin

Cowslips and Catkins

ANNOUNCEMENT: The regular ‘first Sunday of the Month’ volunteering day won’t be taking place at Love Lane this Sunday (5th April 2015) due to outside engagements, but we’ll be there on Wednesdays as usual, and on Sunday 3rd May.

This week saw the welcome return of the Cowslips…

DSC02907…Now spreading up the slope on the East side of the site.  They’ve been ‘fenced off’ with canes and string, to avoid accidental mowing.

DSC02920Some of the Hazel is putting on a nice display of Catkins, which look beautiful shimmering in the wind.

DSC02915The first flush of blossom is appearing on the fruit trees (like this apple above).


Life In The Slow Lane

One of the few reptiles resident at the Love Lane site is the Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis).  Prey to domestic cats, badgers and hedgehogs, they enjoy ‘Protected Status’ in the UK, and under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to “intentionally kill, injure, sell or advertise to sell them”.

Slow Worm 1Last year we placed a some old corrugated iron on the ground within the enclosed area in an effort to encourage them – the one above preferred some old carpet.

Slow Worm 2

Neither particularly slow, nor a worm, they are actually legless lizards and have the ability to autotomize – that is, they can shed their tail, leaving it violently squirming behind them in order to escape from predators.

Slow Worm 3The tail re-grows, but not to the same size.  It’s therefore important to leave them alone if possible, but if they do need to be relocated out of harm’s way, very gentle handling is required.

Another daftly named species found on site (and photographed by a volunteer with a decent camera) is the Ladybird (Coccinellidae)…


Again, the English language confuses us, as they are neither ‘ladies’ nor ‘birds’, but beetles –  and with over 5,000 different species worldwide, plus variation in the number of spots within a species, I’m not even going to attempt to identify this one.

Oh No, Knot You Again…

The Sun is shining, the birds are twittering, someone’s weaving, someone’s whittling…  and guess who shows up?  Why, it’s our old friend Fallopia japonica, commonly known as Japanese knotweed.

hiding         JKW1          flag

Left: No place to hide / Centre: This one means business / Right: You’re Flagged

The little orange flags are to help us stay aware of where it is, so it doesn’t get inadvertently cut during they year – if it’s cut, it just gets angry, sending horizontal roots out for metres.

This will be the third consecutive year of (reluctant) targeted use of the systemic herbicide ‘glyphosate’, but as the following image shows, all of that crawling around in the brambles clutching a syringe looking (and sounding) like Darth Vader may have all been worth it…

kw ll

So if you see any little orange flags around the site, please avoid them, and please keep children and pets away from them.  That way, some day soon, there will perhaps be no more little orange flags, and we can hang up the goggles and respirator.


More Signs of Spring

Lots of signs of life down at Love Lane, after what apparently was ‘the warmest winter on record‘…


Campion coming through (above) and the beginnings of an Elder flower (below)…

elderflower bud

The Blackthorn blossom already getting past it’s prime in some spots…

blackthorn blossom

The ants are getting busy in the sunshine…


As are this pair of Small Tortoiseshell butterflies…

Small Tortoiseshell

Next week we’re planning on introducing some frogspawn into our small pond, which is already full of life.  More details to follow!

What’s Happened to the Willow at Love Lane?

Visitors to the Love Lane site may have noticed that the main willow patch has recently had a severe haircut…


It’s a technique sometimes referred to as ‘Copparding’ – a mixture of ‘Coppicing’ (where we’d cut at or near to ground level) and ‘Pollarding’ (where we cut at a height where browsing animals – deer, etc – can’t nibble the new shoots).

While we’ve yet to see any deer at Love Lane (although there are reports of Muntjac as close as Marazion), we thought we’d save ourselves some backache when it comes to harvesting the withies for weaving – with the added advantage of maintaining good sight-lines through the patch.

Check out the withybeds in this film footage from 1949 (Looe):


You can see what we’re aiming for at about the 20 second mark.  The 1878 OS map of our area shows ‘Osier’ (withy) beds right in the middle of the current Rugby pitch (circled red):


That’s probably just a remnant of what was grown in the Larrigan ‘Estuary’ before the river was completely tamed.

Spring arrives at Love Lane!

Everything’s slowly waking up down at Love Lane – it must be all the sunshine – a couple of daffodils are blooming, flecks of white blossom on some of the blackthorn and green buds everywhere you look.


Celandine (below) is another early arrival – considered an invasive species in North America, where is shades out even ivy…  this one looks like it’s getting a head start on some bramble:


Up in the woods, the badgers are clearly active and look like they’ve been working on a new extension to the sett.  Apparently there could be almost 1000 feet of tunnels down there. Any more and they’ll need planning permission.

dsc02816It’s a good time of year to look around the woods, before the new leaf obscures everything.  The woods are home to a few very old and most interesting trees, this one being about the oldest (and most interesting).