Spragglesea Allotments

View of the site looking north. July 2015.


 Environmental Survey


Following the 2015 AGM it was proposed that a site survey would provide a framework for the allotment society to balance the cultivation of the site with the promotion of a diverse and beneficial wildlife.
The site has a considerable number of wild areas which are mostly on the margins of the site or are too wooded or marshy to be incorporated into the cultivated areas. Several of these wild areas are contiguous with woodland or scrubland outside the boundaries of the site, particularly areas 1, 5, 9, 10 and 11 listed below. Cumulatively these areas make an important contribution to the wildlife corridors that exist around the central area of the city of Oxford. The whole site, including the cultivated areas, supports as many as 100 species of wild flower, 20 species of butterfly (including occasional visitors) and a varied range of bird life, including green and greater spotted woodpeckers and the occasional rare migrant. We have not surveyed the insect population, but it is undoubtedly diverse. Mammals include foxes, semi-feral cats, mice, rats and moles. Hedgehogs have not been seen for a number of years. Fortunately we do not have badgers, and rabbits are at least temporarily absent. Grass snakes, toads and frogs are quite common, although the frogs are becoming scarce.
Section 1 is a list of all the significant uncultivated areas that are beneficial to wildlife and which may also benefit from management and improvement. For further clarification of these areas, please see the accompanying map. Click here to view.
Section 2 discusses recommendations and possible actions for management of the various areas.
Section 3.  Appendices.
List of Wild Flowers. Click here  to view.
List of Birds. Click here to view.
List of Butterflies. Click here to view.
Map. Click here to view.
1. Spragglesea Mead Plane Trees (from plane trees to shed)   See Photo
This area includes the composting bins, rotting wood pile, nettles and elderflower. It is dominated by the two old very large plane trees which give shade for six months of the year. There are other smaller trees, ash, hawthorn, elder, and a large fruiting cherry tree. The compost bins managed by the Association are kept in this area. The area round the shed has bamboos and from the shed to the gate is shrubbery and planted flowers.
2. Spragglesea Mead Native Hedgerow (alongside park from gate to stream)   See Photo
This is a planted hedgerow of native species, Buckthorn, Wild Rose, Hawthorn, Spindle, Ivy etc. There are two Golden Ash in the park which overshadow this area.
3. Spragglesea Mead Mixed Tree Bank (alongside Eastwyke ditch, the stream on the East side from the park to the dry water course)   See Photo
A variety of trees grow along this boundary - Willow, Oak, Ash, Walnut, Hazel, Hawthorn etc.
4. Dry Water Course    See Photo
There are two sections of this water course, separated by the concrete bridge. Both sections are getting heavily overgrown and are difficult to access. Around the bridge itself the banks are dominated by bamboo, especially on the Dean’s Ham West side. The Western end is heavily overgrown with nettles, brambles, comfrey and trees on both sides. The Eastern end has a good variety of bushes, shrubs and trees, some recently planted.
5. Deans Ham Woodland Area (on the East alongside the stream)   See Photo
This is the largest area of uncultivated land on the site. Mostly Hawthorn, some quite mature, creating a dense canopy. One tree on the Southern edge has mistletoe growing on it.  The undergrowth is mostly brambles and nettles.
A path runs through the woodland, and children use parts of it as a playground. The area is subject to deep flooding in winter, although there have been some dry years, most recently last winter.
6. Bees
A small area bordering the stream and protected mostly by bramble, comfrey and stacked tree branches. It contains two active bee hives.
7. Woodland behind tanks   See Photo
A  relatively small area mostly of willow and bamboo, but contains one area sown with wild flowers.
8. Stream bank (East side)   See Photo
Willow trees followed by a small grassy area.
9. Deans Ham Point Wilderness   See Photo
 A triangular area at the northern extremity, mostly overgrown with nettles, brambles and meadowsweet. A section of it on a raised bed was at one time cultivated. There are some trees, including a planted quince. It is difficult to access but there is an overgrown path through to the quince tree.
10. Deans Ham Bramble Boundary (on West alongside railway from the Wilderness to the shed)     See Photo
Parts of this are cultivated and have espalier fruit trees against the fence. It adjoins the scrubland and woody area which borders the railway line.
11. Deans Ham Amenity Area   See Photo
This includes what was formerly Plot 6a, as well as the bonfire pile, used for burning material mostly originating from the park.  The pathways which used to run to it are getting badly overgrown. The area under the trees is rather neglected and wilderness is encroaching on what used to be grassy amenity space. The whole area adjoins a triangular patch of woodland on the other side of the fence, a copse belonging to Network Rail which separates the allotments from the railway line.
12. Lakeside boundary   See Photo
This is mostly cultivated on the allotment side. It has grasses and bushes on the other side of the fence where there is a sloping bank which goes down to the lake.

1. Spragglesea Mead Plane Trees (from plane trees to shed)     See Photo
Being higher than most of the rest of the site and less subject to flooding it might be possible to introduce bluebells, crocuses, snowdrops and other spring species here.
2. Spragglesea Mead Native Hedgerow (alongside park from gate to stream)     See Photo
One of the plots alongside this is not well cultivated and is reverting to wilderness. Some action is required. The front plot (15a) has for a long time been set aside for deliveries of compost etc. There were plans to concrete over part of it, and perhaps a decision is required as to whether or not this will ever go ahead.
3. Spragglesea Mead Mixed Tree Bank (alongside stream on East side from park to dry water course)  See Photo
We probably require a management plan for the trees in this area as they are liable to become too dominant over time. 
4. Dry Water Course    See Photo
 On the Spragglesea Mead side there are potentially issues with plots SM9/SM8 where there used to be a path alongside the water course, but this is no longer visible. On the Dean’s Ham side the area adjacent to the Amenity area is getting very overgrown and needs attention.
Should we consider dredging the water course? There are a few Indian balsam plants already established. This can be an invasive pest and should be removed and the area monitored to prevent its return.
5. Deans Ham Woodland Area (on the East alongside the stream) See Photo
Owing to the relatively frequent flooding it would probably not be possible to improve the flora of this area. However the trees do need management and thinning them out would allow more light to penetrate to the undergrowth.
6. Bees
Should we make access more difficult to this area? There is some Indian Balsam which should be removed.
7. Woodland behind tanks   See Photo
Perhaps some tree management is required here.
8. Stream bank (Dean’s Ham side)   See Photo
The willow trees will need pollarding.
9. Deans Ham Point Wilderness   See Photo
How should this be managed? Perhaps an occasional strim around the base of the quince tree and a strim of the path that leads to it.  We should also assess whether the trees there need pruning or thinning.
10. Deans Ham Bramble Boundary (on West alongside railway from the wilderness to the shed)    See Photo
Some of the plots here are getting rather overgrown alongside the fence boundary.
11. Deans Ham Amenity Area   See Photo
This area needs more active management than is currently being achieved so that it does not get too overgrown. It is the main area used for our summer barbecue.
12. Lakeside boundary   See Photo
This is managed by the allotees, some of whom have planted espalier trees to grow along the fence. The lake border outside the fence, to which we have access, consists mostly of low growing shrubs, but there are some willows which may need attention.


List of Wild Flowers. Click here  to view.
List of Birds. Click here to view.
List of Butterflies. Click here to view.
Map. Click here to view.

Spragglesea Mead survey

 Compiled by Anna Mentzel, David Custerson, Gerard Ledger.