Having decided that I’d look at Raisby Hill this year it occurred to me last week, when out running, that what I should really be doing is looking at the recolonization of the topsoil Tarmac have laid over the spoil from the newly quarried land above Crowtrees LNR. They are extracting sand from below the Magnesian limestone, filling the hole in the landscape with limestone rubble and covering this with topsoil.
I noted last year that the topsoil seemed to be full of brassica seedlings and bore little resemblance to the vegetation on the older quarry waste around it and now I’ve found a patch, near the path, where the two sit nicely side by side. I think I’ll keep an eye on it this year and at least do a brief blog about the recolonization process – it seems too good an opportunity to miss.
This is what the topsoil looks like at the moment – lots of brassica seedlings interspersed with a few larger rosettes, which I know I should recognise but don’t quite, yet!
The ‘undisturbed’ ground remaining by the path is much older quarry spoil covered in thin, alkaline soil, with much less organic matter. This poor soil, counterintuitively, supports much greater diversity, evident even at this time of year. Leaves of Ribwort plantain, Mouse-ear hawkweed, Barren strawberry and Crosswort nestle amongst the mossy covering.
Ribwort plantain, Plantago lanceolata and Crosswort, Cruciata laevipes, leaves
Barren strawberry, Potentilla sterilis and Mouse-ear hawkweed, Pilosella officinarum, leaves
One thing I notice is that all the leaves seem particularly hairy – is this something to do with protection against the cold?
Orchid, willowherb and Hogweed seed heads catch the last of the day’s light.
So, now I’ve set myself up for two monthly survey blogs when I’d hoped that Raisby Hill would be a simpler and less time consuming version of last year’s survey of flowering plants on Crowtrees LNR. At least I’m just looking at a small patch of ground for this one!