A Quiet Place for Nature and Relaxation

Keeping Hockley’s trees healthy and safe

Contractors working on behalf of the Parish Council have recently undertaken a survey of all trees growing in the council’s open spaces.  As a result, residents can expect to see tree work taking place over the next few weeks.  Coppicing will also recommence at the Marylands Nature Reserve.

At the end of March 2020 the nature reserve is looking its loveliest.  Thanks to the coppicing and thinning out that has taken place in the woodland areas there are more flowers to be seen than ever before with violets and wild arum (traditionally known as Lords and Ladies and Cuckoo Pint) in abundance.  In the hedgerows the blackthorn and the wild cherry are white with flowers.

People ask why there are no bluebells to be found on the nature reserve and that is because it is what is known as ‘secondary woodland’.  That is woodland that has grown up on previously cleared land, unlike Hockley Hall and Gusted Hall woods which are ‘primary woodland’ having never been cultivated.

Sadly last year one of the very ancient oak trees on the bank of the brook was blown down in the wind.  Our rangers and contractor saw this as an opportunity to add to the diversity to the nature reserve and with the aid of chain saws cut out a quirky woodland seat.

Residents are reminded that the nature reserve is, as it name implies, a reserve for nature.  We would therefore ask dog walkers to remember the need to protect wildlife and to please keep their dogs on a lead. Also to make sure that they clear up after their pets not only on the pathways but in the wooded areas and meadows.

Marylands Thinning 2020
Marylands Seat 2020

Winter 2017/18 5 Year Regeneration Plan  

Over the next 5 years the parish council, through its contractor Constable Landscapes, will embark on a comprehensive programme of work in the nature reserve in order to ensure it continues to provide a valuable place for wildlife and an important recreational and educational feature for the residents of Hockley.

The parish council sought the advice of the Essex Wildlife Trust who recommended the site should be developed as a mosaic of woodland, parkland and open grassland.  Selective thinning of woodland, the creation of scalloped bays along the main ride and increased parkland habitat will diversify the woodland component of the site leading to an increase of flora and fauna throughout.

This winter will see scrub being cleared from below selected trees in the meadow in order to afford them more growing space and light and scrub encroachment cut back.  In the woodland area a limited number of tall trees with interlocking canopies which restrict light to the woodland floor will be coppiced and weak trees, excessive seedlings and sapling growth weeded out. The ‘scalloping’ of the heavy hawthorn growth along the main ride will assist in encouraging a diverse flora and insect population.

Should you require further information then please contact the office on 01702 207707 email: enquiries@hockley-essex.gov.uk

What to look out for in the nature reserve this autumn –   Look in the hedge to the right of the entrance to see the beautiful pink fruits of the spindle tree.  As winter comes on and the tree loses it leaves the four sectioned berries open to show the bright orange seeds inside, giving it the old fashioned name of ‘hearts-a-burstin’ or strawberry tree.

May 2017 Future plans for Marylands Nature Reserve

The Environmental Committee is working with Essex Ecology Services Ltd, a branch of the Essex Wildlife Trust towards implementing a five-year plan for the improvement of the Marylands Nature Reserve which is expected to start in 2017/18.   The majority of the site will be managed woodland but leaving some of the site as more wild and unmanaged. The plan proposes creating ‘bays’ along the main ride to encourage butterflies and insects and provide small wildlife sanctuaries and clearing selective wooded areas and scrubland to enable selective trees to mature.   Previous plantings of fruit trees can be supplemented and incorporated into a community orchard.

Please Note: The Kissing Gate on Footpath 13 is closed. Essex County Council has confirmed that the public have no right to cross the boundary to get to the path. Please use other access points.

  • A new Interpretation Board was installed in 2017.
  • The path at Marylands Nature Reserve was completed in September 2016
  • In 2014 we successfully applied for a match funded grant from the Community Initiative Fund for a new circular pathway in Marylands Nature Reserve to enable visitors to enjoy easier access. The Parish Council contracted a local company who completed almost 900 square metres of new pathways. During 2016 the council are planning to make further improvements to the pathway from the main entrance at Plumberow Avenue.