After a very wet week the rain stayed away on Sunday and we had a good turnout of volunteers to help plant up a hazel copse in our much improved entrance to the Community Orchard off the Newmarket Road. Many thanks to all who turned up and also to the Council staff who worked through the bad weather to improve our very muddy path and install some railings to protect our planting.
A large group of employees from AstraZeneca spent a day working on Midsummer Common and in the Community Orchard. One team rebuilt the espalier frame for the pear trees - digging holes, cementing in concrete spurs and bolting them to the wooden posts.
Another team cut back the long row of high hedges bordering the apple trees. Another team cleared around the fruit tree roots, pruned the branches and banged in support posts. Both teams carried the mounds of cuttings to a central collection point.
Two teams went onto the main Common - clearing brambles and nettles from the bank and inside the cattle guards. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped in the various tasks and everyone seemed to enjoy the experience. FoMC hopes they will return at the same time next year!
The Council upgraded some of the footpaths across the Common recently. The agreed plan included the installation of night-time ground lighting to help guide cyclists along the main footpath from Cutter Ferry bridge to Four lamps roundabout. Construction workers have been cutting holes along the edge of the path and the lights are now in place.
We would like to thank the Cambridge Building Society for their generous help in installing a new water butt in the orchard entrance which collects water from the roof of the CBS building next door. The water butt (obtained from the Cambridge Water Company) will reduce the amount of carrying needed to keep newly planted shrubs and bulbs well watered which is a back breaking job!
The bat boxes were put up in late summer 2016 and so we are hoping for some residents this year. As you will see from the photograph to the left, they are positioned high up in one of the biggest trees in the Eastern Pound and very difficult to spot. We do have a bat detector, so will be monitoring activity in the area – there have already been some sitings. Any members who enjoy an evening walk on the Common and would like to hear what is going on around the boxes are most welcome to borrow the detector in return for some feedback!
Our beekeeper in the Orchard said it would be good to have some hops for the bees to visit. We thought they would add to the scenery and lead the way to a micro-brewery producing FoMC ale! So it was good to see volunteers out on a rather blustery Sunday morning digging and planting hops- 2 Fuggles and 1 Wye. We also planted a couple of shrubs and some foxgloves - kindly donated by Jenny Houghton - in the Newmarket Road entrance to the Orchard.
Only authorised vehicles are allowed to drive and park on Midsummer Common. Permission has been given for vehicles to service the Fort St George pub and Midsummer House restaurant but this is too often abused with unauthorised vehicles driving and parking on the Common. The public complains about this visual intrusion and damage done to the grassland.
The Council installed an automatic rising kerb to control access to the Common and granted a Right of Way to the pub. The footpath upgrades described above are meant to keep vehicles off the grassland. Without Council enforcement the offences will persist.