he Trust, supported by the volunteers are regularly rooting out alien invaders in the form of plants that have been dumped, planted or spread from other areas. This is what the Trust is all about – restoration in the raw. Recently volunteers have been removing garden daffodils from Water End, Spanish bluebells from within the heart of the Estate at Woodyard Cottage, and garden archangel from Northchurch and Frithsden. The Estate can boast about the real deal – native daffodils at Frithsden, yellow archangel at Toms Hill, and a thousand acres of native bluebells.
So far there have been no reports of Himalayan balsam which is regularly found invading water courses like the river Gade at Water End, but it’s cousin the small balsam can be found regularly at Ashridge. It is a widespread nuisance carpeting the woodland floor and shading out the native wild flowers and requires a lot of man-power to take down before it seeds – it is an annual. Emily has this on her wish list for this year following some successful trials.
The Trust is always on the look-out for new invaders like ash die-back which thankfully now seems to be abating, but only recently a highly poisonous plant turned up at Frithsden – the Monkshood, a native plant but not for Ashridge. This one is a garden variety discarded by an irresponsible neighbour, since it spreads and is a silent killer – looks pretty but must not be handled under any circumstances. It contains a fast acting poison used in the past for tipping arrow heads, and there is no known antidote – not one for the volunteers!
Ashridge often presents itself as a suitable outlet for the dumping of unwanted possessions. Two years ago a family of pot-bellied pigs turned up on Aldbury common looking for a new home, having outgrown their old place and had to be rescued and rehoused!