Sign of the times in Hoo Wood.
Sunrise: 05. 22 Sunset: 08.44
Once a bed of beautiful English bluebells, this area is now dominated by invasive Himalayan balsam. I photographed a bluebell carpet here last year, but this year their number is very much reduced.
Each year the balsam covers more ground, increasingly smothering the native flora, and I see fewer bluebells in the wood as a result.
Sustained effort and labour are needed if Hoo Wood bluebells are to flourish again. Himalayan balsam should be pulled from the ground before it seeds; its roots easily relinquish their grip on the soil. Leaving the pulled balsam in a pile to rot seems to work well, but don’t leave them on trackways – they are a slip risk. I pull balsam when I’m in the wood, but all I am achieving is a slight slowing down of the spread; I feel I am doing my bit though. Thankfully, I am having more success on the marsh.
Pulling Himalayan balsam can be pleasant, satisfying, and a worthwhile activity on a warm sunny day – it’s one of the easier tasks. If people walking through the wood spend five to ten minutes pulling balsam during each visit, native plants will flourish.