Bishop’s Meadow Balsam Bash

On Saturday, June 11th, 10.30 – 12.30,  Jaba (St.James’ and Bartonsham Community Association) and Hereford Community Cleanup Group are holding their second balsam bash at Bishop’s Meadow and they would love you to come along to help to try and tackle the Himalayan Balsam covering the riverbanks from The Old Bridge to the end of Bishops Meadow at Putson! With your help they can make a difference, even if you are able to join them just for a short time.
Meet at the Bishop’s Meadow end of Victoria Bridge at 10.30 where there will  be a demonstration how best to tackle the balsam and then spread out along the riverbank. Bring gardening gloves and wear long sleeves, to protect against nettles, plus a bottle of water and perhaps a snack. Help is also needed from canoeists to reach the areas at water level that cannot be reached from land, and from fisherman for the steeper banks near the Old Bridge. The majority of the riverbank at Bishops Meadow, from Victoria Bridge to the Putson path, is very accessible with few risks. The main risks are stinging nettles, uneven surfaces and tripping over branches! The river level is low and the balsam is easily accessed from the riverbank paths and gravel beaches.  If you are a member of Hereford Community Cleanup Group or join beforehand via their facebook page, you are covered by their insurance, otherwise the event is at your own risk and they will ask you to sign a disclaimer. However the risks as mentioned, are minimal.
Himalayan Balsam is an invasive plant, brought over from the Himalayas by the Victorians, and now covering more and more of UK riverbanks and fields. Each plant has up to 2,500 seeds that explode up to 7 metres away! It is the UK’s tallest annual and the fastest growing, crowding out native species and forming one vast monoculture on the riverbank. It also erodes the banks.
The good news is that it comes up very easily. Pull it up, break off the root below the first leaf node and just leave it on the ground to rot. Because its so easy to pull up you can pull up a lot really quickly and really see a difference. It can be very satisfying to uncover the native plants and start to see a more diverse habitat emerge. JABA’s facebook page and website  show some before and after photos, with comfrey, red campion, wild garlic and more, emerging from below the balsam.