Gardening Magazine

Basingbourne Park

By Mwillis
Regular readers will have seen me post once or twice about Fleet Pond, a very high-profile local amenity (in fact, the main reason for the existence of Fleet as a town), and our local piece of heathland called "Velmead Common", but surprisingly I have not hitherto written about Basingbourne Park, which is more-or-less right on my doorstep.
Basingbourne Park
Basingbourne Park is a piece of green space in amongst residential properties, just two or three hundred yards from where I live. Today I explored it - something I have failed to do in the past. I have often scratched the surface of it, but until now I hadn't realised how extensive it is.
Walking around this park you see glimpses of what the area must have been like before the 20th Century houses were built...
Basingbourne Park
Until recently this area has been relatively inaccessible because it is quite boggy, but there are now some proper made-up paths which make it much easier to get around. The paths seem to be made from "chips" of recycled vehicle tyres!
Basingbourne Park
In places, the ground is still very boggy. This area looks almost like a padi-field with the bright green grass coming up through the soggy ground:
Basingbourne Park
Some areas have been cleared to let more light in...
Basingbourne Park
But it's nice to see that most of the mature trees have been retained. I particularly noticed how many of the big trees had been equipped with nesting-boxes for birds (or perhaps bats?)
Basingbourne Park
Although this park only extends to a few acres, I was amazed by how diverse its flora is. As well as large Pines and the ubiquitous Birch, almost all the traditional old English trees are represented - Oak, Ash, Beech, Chestnut, Hazel...

Basingbourne Park

Oak


Basingbourne Park

Mountain Ash or Rowan


Basingbourne Park

Beech in amongst Birch


Basingbourne Park

Chestnut


Basingbourne Park

Hazel


Because the park is surrounded by residential areas, there are lots of "feral" plants, many of them edible...

Basingbourne Park

Currant


Basingbourne Park

Raspberry


Basingbourne Park

Cherry


Of course there are lots of lots of wild edible plants too...

Basingbourne Park

Garlic mustard or "Jack in the Hedge"


Basingbourne Park

Nettles


Basingbourne Park

Hairy Bittercress


Basingbourne Park

Brambles / Blackberries


There are lots of flowers too...

Basingbourne Park

Bluebell


Basingbourne Park

Dandelion


Basingbourne Park

Herb Robert


Basingbourne Park

Stitchwort


Basingbourne Park

Gorse / Furze


Finally, a couple of photos that don't fit neatly into any category...

Basingbourne Park

Oak galls, aka Oak Apples


Basingbourne Park

Ivy


This modestly-sized area of woodland is a fine example of what we call a "Green Lung" in our very built-up neighbourhood. Much of its maintenance is done by a group of volunteers, to whom all credit is due. Who knows, now that I am retired, I might join them...
Hart District - in which the biggest settlement is Fleet -  has several times been voted in a national survey the best place in the UK to live, and this is partly due to the existence of parks and open spaces like the one I have described here. Our area is under enormous pressure from Central Government to build more residential housing. I just hope this will never be done at the expense of precious resources like Basingbourne Park.

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