The most surprising discovery was to find a large area of Himalayan balsam on the banks of both
sides of the River Sprint upstream from Gurnal Bridge. We are very grateful to the landowners for giving us
permission to access and deal with this outbreak. However the plants were flowering and seeding when they were strimmed,
so we shall have to return next year to make sure that we have done a complete job of extermination.
The River Mint is quite inaccessible in many places, especially along the gorge near Mealbank
Industrial Estate, but we have removed a considerable crop of the plants from Millcrest caravan site all the way
upstream to the aqueduct. We are thankful to landowners for permitting access to do the work. A problem remains:
where is the source of balsam on the River Mint? Patton Bridge?
It would be marvellous if people all over the parish and beyond would get in touch with me if they
have found any Himalayan balsam on their patch and let me know where it is.
You might ask "What's the fuss all about?" The trouble with this sturdy annual plant is that it
spreads remarkably quickly and wipes out the native vegetation. Consequently in the winter months the riverbanks
are left bare and so are more prone to erosion. This is a cause of great concern given the increased flooding we
have seen over recent years.
The good news is that balsam is well under control along our two tributaries and the upper Kent
catchment area, just as long as we keep on pulling it up and stamping on it in early summer. You will be aware
of the uncontrolled spread of Himalayan Balsam elsewhere in the British Isles.
Mary Chapman Tel 01539 731863