Nottingham is blessed with a wealth of natural habitats in and around the City. Harrison's Plantation is an area of mixed woodland in Wollaton, linked to Martin's Pond and Rayleigh Pond by short footpaths. The area was originally part of a mediaeval fishery, being regenerated in the 18th century as a broadleaf mixed woodland.
Some areas of the woodland were coppiced and much of it is now relatively new growth, though some very mature trees are seen throughout. The natural vegetation is well established and as I walked around, I noticed areas of Arum maculatum which I know as "Lords and Ladies" or "Cuckoo pint". I have not seen this plant in such profusion in years.
There are a lot of classic woodland fungi around and I noticed magpies and squirrels as well as a significant number of dragonflies. One disappointment was a small patch of Himalayan balsam, Impatiens glandulifera, which is a very invasive species. If this plant is not eradicated, it is likely to become the dominant species in a few years at the expense of many native plants.
Himalayan balsam produces very explosive seed pods, which are great fun to pop. The seeds are very hardy and will spread for yards around the parent plant. The flowers are heavily scented and coloured, attracting a wide variety of pollinating insects and the roots are quite long and strong. When soil stress is experienced, the plant is capable of producing ariel roots, which can efficiently absorb gas and rain water. This plant is the ultimate survivor and a very dominating invader.
The first Hymalayan balsam plants were introduced into Kew Gardens in about 1840 and they quickly escaped into the wild. These plants are now found throughout England and I have seen them as far north as Bradford. In Stoke, they are the dominant plant on the canal sides and in some areas they are impossible to remove without replacing acres of soil.
Lack of habitat management is an issue with plants like these. Lets hope that Nottingham's treasured habitats do not fall to this foreign invader.
postscript: check out the blog page at "Park Views" about returning-to-nature at Harrison's Plantation.