Leaves of all shapes and textures.

Leaves of all shapes and textures, including Mallow, Burdock and Mayweed.

As a part of our ongoing muck heap works, a new bank was created from well rotted manure behind the pens of our Saddleback and Potbellied pigs. This loose, nutrient-rich area was left unplanted to allow local flora to colonise and in just a few short months, it has quickly turned a lush green, filled with new foliage. This morning, I visited the site with local botanist and Mudchute trustee, John Swindells, to find out more about some of the plants which have found their way to the new bank.

The area which was bare ground only months ago is now lush and green.

The area which was once bare ground is now lush and green.

Botanist John Swindells examines the colonising flora.

Botanist John Swindells examines the colonising flora.

Henbane and Sowthistle are among the many plants establishing themselves.

Henbane and Sowthistle are among the many plants establishing themselves.

Common Mallow is among several of the plants currently in flower.

Common Mallow is among several of the plants currently in flower.

Field and Opium poppies are also in flower, alongside the yellow flowers of Nipplewort.

Field and Opium poppies are also in flower, alongside the yellow flowers of Nipplewort.

The distinctive shape of Shepherd's Purse.

The distinctive shape of Shepherd’s Purse.

Italian Rye Grass also appears to be thriving.

Italian Rye Grass also appears to be thriving.

It's no too hard to imagine how the Spiny Sowthistle got its name!

It’s not too difficult to imagine how the Spiny Sowthistle got its name!

Mayweed flowers. The delicate feathery foliage of this plant makes up much of the growth on the mound.

Mayweed flowers. The delicate feathery foliage of this plant makes up much of the growth on the mound.

Disturbed land and a lack of taller plants provides opportunities for low-lying plants like this Lesser Swinecress.

Disturbed land and a lack of taller plants provides opportunities for low-lying plants like this Lesser Swinecress.

Fat Hen and other Chenopodium are also thriving.

Fat Hen and other Chenopodium are also thriving.

Black Horehound with its distinctive odour when disturbed.

Black Horehound with its distinctive odour when disturbed.

Invertebrates such as this ladybird larva have also moved onto the mound.

Invertebrates such as this ladybird larva have also moved onto the mound and we found evidence of fox activity as well.

Flowering Fat Hen, Poppy and Potato (perhaps an allotment escapee!).

Flowering Fat Hen, Poppy and Potato (perhaps an allotment escapee!).

It was great to see so many wild species moving into the area so quickly and we look forward to watching the area develop and mature. The plants found growing on the mound are also found throughout Mudchute, so be sure to keep an eye out for these species on your next visit!


Preparing some of the hundreds of new plants.

Preparing some of the hundreds of new plants.

Today Froglife joined us on our wildlife ponds to continue to improve the area for wildlife. A few months since our big cleanup, the ponds are looking much better and teeming with wildlife. However, some of the more aggressive plants have begun to dominate the area and we can make the ponds even better for wildlife by encouraging greater diversity in our plantlife.

To help us do this, Vanessa Barber and Alex Draper from Froglife came down to help us plant up the ponds with a greater variety of native species. Armed with over 300 individual plants of many different species, we worked to add a range of textures and habitats to the ponds. Our aim is to create lots of different areas to the ponds, including open water spaces as well as planted areas along the edges (with great growth for emerging invertebrates like damselflies and dragonflies), as well as vegetation beneath the water to provide food, oxygen and shelter for aquatic life. Last but not least we can add floating plants, which wildlife can use as refuges and an anchor for their eggs.

We spotted lots of wildlife during the planting including frogs, newts, spiders, bumblebees, damselflies and beetles of all sorts. It’s great to see wildlife making our ponds home and we hope the new planting and other new wildlife initiatives will encourage even more wild creatures to take up residence.


The brush and trees blocked light to the ground. Note the contrast between the bright green grass near the footpath!mudchute-2269

The tree surgeons were hard at work over the past week, helping to remove material from our bank bordering Millwall Park. As a part of our grassland restoration work, we are clearing scrub and trees in order to create an open grassland habitat to support our rare and native wildflowers. This work is supported by the borough of Tower Hamlets. The clearing work is similar to that which we’ve carried out on other banks on the farm, with the help of corporate volunteer groups and which are already showing excellent results.

Trees and fast-growing vegetation such as brambles quickly block the light and take up nutrients that wildflowers need. The aspect of these banks is particularly good for grasslands as they get lots of sunshine. We’ll be using our grazing animals to maintain the banks, keeping grasses short and pruning back new growth. This means you might be able to see our grazers hard at work from Millwall Park. Many thanks to Tower Hamlets and CSG Ushers for their support and hard work on this project.