A mixture of damp woodland and semi improved grassland adjacent to the River Colne. The site is gently sloping and often under water during period of heavy rain, especially during winter months. The site is small covering just 2.3 hectares.
How to get there
By road: the site is located off Bakers Lane (off roundabout on Cymbeline Way), Lexden. TL 973255. Find on the map
This site is not open to members of the public.
History, vegetation and wildlife
Up until the early 1980's the site was used as Colchester Borough Councils tree and plant nursery, the boundaries were fenced with hard standing bays and sheds. The area closest to the entrance is now used as a working yard and storage area for trees and plants, all the sheds have been removed but the hard standing remains.
The meadow is typical of semi-improved grasslands on damp soil, species include creeping buttercup, cuckoo flower, meadow vetchling, wild angelica, clovers, common grasses and creeping thistle. A spring fed permanently damp area supports and interesting range of plants (including greater pond sedge, rushes, meadowsweet, St Johns wort and marsh horse tail. Paths are mown during the growing season plus 50% of the grassland area is cut each year, with the arising composted in one corner of the site.
Over seventy tree species have been planted around the site, plus there is an established mixed hedge along the eastern boundary and this together with mature trees shades the busy Remembrance Avenue.
In 1999 a (Essex) black poplar nursery was established in conjunction with and managed by the River Colne Countryside Project (RCCP). The need for the black poplar nursery has diminished as the RCCP established another source for Essex Black Poplars, unfortunately muntjac deer managed to get into the nursery and damaged the majority of the remain trees, the nursery was finally dismantled in late summer 2012.
The damp and sheltered conditions are ideal for a range of insects, butterfly and moth records are kept by CNHS, and the area is a known hot spot for stag beetles, with the River Colne marking one of its boundaries, you can often see, dragonfly, damselfly, demoiselle, along with ground hoppers and grass hoppers, together with the roesel's bush cricket (classified as nationally scarce).
The paths are maintained and the grassland managed to try and maximise the species varieties while preventing secondary woodland taking over the entire site. Coppicing (especially the willow in the damp woodland area) is carried out periodically with the larger sections of timber used to create log pile habitats. The CHNS has carried out surveys on the drainage ditches and run moth lamp sessions every other year.
Spring Lane Nursery Meadow action plan of works 2020-21