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Chair’s Welcome

I am delighted as Chair of the Friends to welcome you to our website. Bushy Park and Home Park are two wonderful large green oases in the south west corner of London. Feeling wild, they are natural places with ancient histories, fascinating heritage and superb wildlife. Both are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) containing rare species. These are places to be enjoyed and conserved. Which is why the Friends exist, campaigning, supporting and protecting the parks, and enhancing visitors’ enjoyment with information, advice and guidance.

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Grasses in the Park (Bushy)

Grasses in the Park (Bushy)

Photo © Alan Buckingham

A walk led by Pippa Hyde, Saturday 17th July

Report by Pieter Morpurgo, photos by Alan Buckingham.

We started in the new education area of the Welcome Centre with a small display of some grasses which we might see during the walk. Pippa had collected them over the previous month. The ideal time to see and identify grasses is really a month earlier in June. By July many of the grasses will have turned to seed, making identification of some rather difficult.

Bushy is a very special Acid Grassland, with many varieties of grasses. The walk was to turn into a wildlife and nature walk but with a concentration on the grasses. One of the first to be identified was Wavy Hair-grass, which is common in Bushy and nearby Barnes Common. Thankfully Pippa decided to avoid the Latin names apart from one which was Holcus mollis, and she only mentioned that because botanists know it also as Hairy Molly’s Knees. We saw Crested Dog’s-tail which has pretty crested edges in June, and Timothy, a grass with purple flowers and a bushy top. On so many walks like this we are told to really look closely at the grasses, rushes and flowers we walk past. There is so much variety and colour to be seen. We saw many reeds, rushes and sedges. A literary member of the committee quoted a poem “Sedges have edges; rushes are round; grasses are hollow right up from the ground”. An alternative version runs “Sedges have edges; rushes are round; grasses have nodes and willows abound”.

There are two types of rushes – hard and soft. If you peel away the outside, the hard rush has separate little pieces inside the stem. Rushes also have simpler flowers than grasses.

There was plenty of Couch Grass, the scourge of lawns. We saw soldier beetles and many other beetles and insects. Yorkshire Fog creates the “mist” seen over the park in late summer. Lesser Stitchwort has fine little star-like white flowers that can be seen throughout the summer. Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil is found in many damp areas in the park. Some grasses though, do not have pleasant habits. Wall Barley carries fleas and the seeds get into dogs’ ears and paws. Black Horehound or Stinking Roger is smelly and kills off other plants if added to a hanging basket although has attractive purple flowers. One of the first plants to flower in spring is Hedge Mustard which has tiny yellow flowers. There were many names and Pippa suggested that the best way to learn about them is to walk your own patch every day with a good flower book, and just see how many plants there are and how they change over the seasons. There was a breeze over the open spaces and the grass which seemed to be waving in the wind is Sheep’s Fescue now dying back and showing its flimsy wispy top. We saw, too, many butterflies and moths. It was a most interesting couple of hours and the thirty or so in the group very much enjoyed Pippa’s knowledge and enthusiasm. She was presented with a book token as a mark of our appreciation.


We get a low down
On these hairy molly’s knees;
Wall barley is next.


Stinking roger, pass;
Welcome to timothy grass
Amidst the rushes.

Poems © Jeewan Ramlugun 2 July 2010

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Walks & Talks

Forthcoming event

Friday, 24th May 12:10 pm

Talk by Jamel Guenioui ‘ Reptiles and Amphibians’.

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