Volunteers tackling neglected natural site
The guest speaker at the last meeting of the Warsash Residents Association was Helen Sosnowski, who is a countryside ranger from Fareham Borough Council.
She, and a newly established group of volunteers, are tackling the neglected natural areas of the old Coldeast Hospital site in Sarisbury Green, Fareham.
The site was originally an estate which had a house, garden, park, grazing land and woodland, until it became a hospital in 1928.
In 2012, planning permission was granted for new homes, restoration of the mansion house as a hotel, sheltered accommodation and community facilities, including sports pitches and a leisure centre, which is due to open soon.
Helen, in her presentation, said that there was a variety of habitats on the site of 48 hectares, including an apple orchard, all of which have been ignored over the years apart from locals who kept a number of paths open to walk their dogs. The work the council and the volunteers are performing includes clearing scrub from the meadows and orchard, improving the condition of a pond and maintaining footpaths.
The group of 12 volunteers, established in 2014, started with the orchard. Clearing bramble and ivy from wildly grown trees, they found 85 trees still standing (originally there were 170).
There are four varieties, some of which are not seen in supermarkets, including a cooking apple called Howgate Wonder and even Golden Delicious, much sweeter and crisper than that found in the shops. They intend to replace fallen trees with other apple varieties and possibly plums and pears.
They also plan to install picnic tables, create an edible hedge made up of crab apples, blackthorn and hawthorn, and even beehives.
Other work that has been carried out includes clearing a meadow of brambles and saplings and maintaining a natural pond, which had severely overgrown.
The woodlands also need to be cleared of invasive laurel and rhododendron.
To visit the site, there is an entrance into the woodlands that leads to the pond and orchard from the Allotment Road Cricket Club where you can also park.
If you would like to volunteer, please contact the Countryside Service on 01329 824784 or apply online through the Fareham Borough Council website.
n The next meeting of the WRA will be in the Bartholomew Room at the Victory Hall on Wednesday, April 20 at 7.15pm.