On Saturday 21st June we met at the Ivy Green car Park, just off Chorlton Green, from where local (and very expert) expert David Bishop led us into the variety of open spaces in the floodplain of the River Mersey
The timing of the walk was ideal for grasses flowering and we were able to inspect and compare a wide range of native grass species, looking their best. However we also enjoyed the vegetation of spring flowering plants, two notable northern species being Bistort and Sweet Cicely
There were also some good stands of various water plants including some of the less usual ones such as Greater Spearwort and Flowering Rush. There was also the opportunity to look at both Watercress and Fool's Watercress (picured below), the former being a crucifer with a head of four-petalled white flowers and the latter an umbellifer, flowering in the nodes of the sprawling plant.
The walk was further diversified by areas of woodland and hedgerow, with a few species that we don't commonly occur across in Merseyside, such as Wood Stitchwort and White Bryony. The stitchwort had mainly finished flowering but from the dead heads it could be seen that the April/May display must have been pretty good. The bryony is the only native member of the cucumber family and the typical tendrils could be clearly seen.
Formerly much of the floodplain was managed as seasonal meadow, but very little of this rich grassland habitat now remains. David is well versed in the local history of the area and was able to tell us about the former meadow lands and showed us a small surving patch that still retains a population of Greater Burnet, which used to be a widespread feature of the valley meadows. We also saw extensive areas of poorly managed (over-grazed in the recent past) grassland but moves are afoot to improve grassland management to restore the traditional meadow habitat and management to the Mersey valley.
Many thanks to David for guiding us around this varied and interesting area, well worth a visit!