Three Cornered Copse

Update February 2022
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Update for 'The Hovarian' magazine
from the Friends of Three Cornered Copse
February 2022

The destruction of a hedge

On several workdays in 2018 and 2019, the Friends of Three Cornered Copse planted hundreds of native saplings along the border with Dyke Road Avenue on the bund. The new hedge was starting to develop encouragingly.

The remains of the hedge after mowing
The remains of the hedge after mowing

One day in early December 2021, without any warning or discussion, the gardening team of Brighton & Hove Cityparks took only a few minutes to remove the hedge and mow the young trees to the ground.

The bank contained Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Common Dogwood and Guelder Rose saplings that had become established; it was particularly disappointing as our ecology expert confirmed that the Blackthorn contained eggs of the rare Brown Hairstreak butterfly. The habitat we were trying to build and encourage has now been severely diminished. The bank is normally a feast of daffodils in the spring, and to our knowledge has never been mown before. The gardening team could offer no explanation why they had done this (particularly as it is not the growing season). We can only postulate as to whether this was the same team that mowed the verge on King George VI Avenue (Snakey Hill) last spring, when the violet tulips were In full bloom.

For the friends group, this was quite a hard knock to take, and devalues the work that we have put in over the years. The Cityparks department have promised to make amends, and supply new trees, but we remain unconvinced that they have taken steps to ensure that the mowing won't happen again. Ironically, the Cityparks Ranger was with us for help and encouragement when we originally planted the trees.

In the background there is the continuing threat of the Toads Hole Valley development, and the effect that will have on the copse. Amendments and objections are being collected by the planning team, but the proposals to shave the top north-east corner of the copse to provide more road space still remain.

It's mid-winter in the copse, it's muddy, but the trees are starting to bud and the snowdrops we planted at the very top of the wood are starting to show. Not the season for work days, more the season for leaving alone, so nothing planned as I write. It's getting close to the time of year when young trees should be planted, particular the native species, for a hedge. A prompt to the Cityparks people to rectify their vandalism is probably overdue.

Simon Baxendale