2017 News

Children's Event - Wednesday 25th September

We were lucky with the weather for this year’s children’s event – it was dry, sunny and very warm. That may be partly the reason for the high turnout, with 21 youngsters, from five to twelve years old, coming along to learn a bit about nature in Knolls Wood.

There were three activities: they were given a map of the wood, showing the trail to follow, plus a sheet with pictures of eight different leaves and the names of the trees they came from. The aim was to find those leaves in the wood and stick them on the pictures. Afterwards there were leaf pictures to colour in and take home. The second trail was marked with photos of birds that are commonly found in Knolls Wood. The children had to find them and identify the birds. Not as easy as it sounds because only a part was shown, not the whole bird. Of course, there were prizes for all, plus refreshments.

Afterwards they made ‘bug hotels’ – ordinary food tins packed tightly with bamboo twigs, which are hollow and so make ideal habitats for insects. The children took these home to hang in their gardens and they will check from time to time to see what has taken up residence.

The Friends organise this event every year, usually in the autumn half-term week, and it’s always gratifying to see how much the children enjoy it.

Children's Day


Volunteer session - 10 September

We were short of volunteers this time, probably because of holidays, but the six people who turned up achieved a lot with the help of Gary and the chipper. We worked at the southern end of Knolls Wood, mainly removing the holly saplings that were taking over, both next to the path and also around the trunks of the mature trees. Some people think holly deserves its place in the wood because the berries are food for birds. However, the saplings we remove don’t have berries, either because they are male plants or, if they are female, because there aren’t male plants near enough to fertilize them. There’s certainly no shortage of them and, like sycamore, holly is among the most invasive plants in Knolls Wood. Some of the saplings went through the chipper and the chippings will be spread on the boggy bits of path. Others have been piled up to form wildlife habitats.

We have one more volunteer session this year, on 19 November. Come and join us – it’s only a couple of hours and it makes a real difference.

Volunteer session - June 2017

A record number of volunteers turned out for the work session on Sunday 25th, and with seventeen helpers the tasks were finished in a couple of hours. The first job was to rake the edges of Monkey Puzzle Avenue to clear away the grass and weeds that Gary (our Greensand ranger) had mowed a few days earlier. In the past the mower has sometimes caught on stony lumps along the verge, so one hardy volunteer dug a few of these out: mainly chunks of tarmac and concrete from old fence posts. Quite a challenge.

Elsewhere in the wood overhanging branches were cut back to keep the paths clear. This time it was along the path leading to the south entrance and the one that goes from Monkey Puzzle Avenue down to the Sandy Lane entrance. The final job was a litter pick, though Knolls Wood stays remarkably clean considering the number of people who walk through it.

It was very heartening to have so many volunteers. The next session is 10 September and we look forward to seeing you again then.

Native bluebells

In Knolls Wood we are fortunate to have native bluebells. They are delicate with downward hanging bells.  Bluebells can also be white. These rare individuals lack pigment that gives bluebells their distinctive colour. The biggest threats to bluebells are habitat loss and uprooting of the bulbs for gardens.

Redwood Trees

In 1852 William Lobb (a seasoned plant hunter) visited San Francisco where he first heard of a mammoth conifer. In the autumn of 1853 he boarded a ship with seeds, shoots and saplings and brought them back to the UK. Within two years, thousands of saplings were being grown by wealthy Victorians on British Estates. The larger-than-life conifer is symbolic of the Native American wilderness and it became a status symbol in Britain. We are lucky to have many Redwoods in Knolls Wood.


Volunteer Session - Sunday 29th January 2017 

A big thanks to Gary (Greensand Trust Ranger) and the amazing volunteers who gave up their time on Sunday to help carry out the following work. 

Weekend volunteer session: 
The purpose of the Holly clearance is to allow more light in the wood and open the wood up. It’s hard to believe that at ground level you can’t see/appreciate the larger trees because they are shrouded in Holly. As we progress we will create small gladed areas to either allow natural managed regrowth or in some cases (if required) plant sapling trees. Selective Silver Birch removal has also taken place this past week (The area opposite the site of the big Rhododendron.) The purpose of this was to allow more natural light to the Monkey Puzzle sapling that was planted a while back-at present you will notice the branches are all facing one way. However in the case of the felled Birch it was decided not to chip it but pile it up on site to create a habitat pile (This was mentioned at the children’s event) and whilst it does looks untidy it will become a haven for inverts and feeding ground for birds as it rots down. Gary is pleased to report that when he felled it he missed the sapling!!

Thursdays Task

The big Rhododendron was removed. It had become top heavy and inevitably it would have broken and become a mess for us to clear anyway so the executive decision that whilst we had the chipper to get it cut and cleared before the nesting season. Removal of the Rhododendron revealed just how much space it had taken over and with complete removal revealed 2 sapling trees that had obviously been struggling for light, with this area opened up it is hoped that they will now thrive and with careful management/treatment of the Rhododendron will prevent it from taking over this area again. The area was raked over on the Sunday to remove most of the rotting vegetation so that the ground can dry out and hopefully some grass regrowth will be encouraged.


This work would not happen if it was not for Gary's hard work and the amazing volunteers. THANK YOU.