Hitchin Cemetery June-July 2023

 Hitchin Cemetery June-July 2023

The flower-rich meadow areas of the cemetery were full of butterflies, bees and hoverflies during June and July and the history and wildlife delights of the cemetery have been shared with Hitchin residents with four hour-long guided tours. We plan more tours next year, but some of this year's have proved rather too popular (there were 46 people turned up for a Friday tour) and we will instigate a booking system for all the tours in future. Also a special mention to those who came on the final tour this year when the rain descended: thankyou for sticking it out!

Some of the graves tended by the cemetery Friends group have been looking particularly good, with bright pink flowers of thrift and the blue flowers of Lacy Phacelia which is absolutely loved by all sorts of bees. 

One plant that can be found in plenty of places in the meadow areas is the yellow St John's Wort, named after the fact it can be found in flower on St John's Day, 24th June, and with the cemetery being on St John's Road, that's a triple coincidence of "St John's"! A rarer plant which popped up this year in a place where an overgrown shrub had been pruned, was Deadly Nightshade! The fact that this native plant has germinated shows that the cemetery is acting as a long-term seed bank and holds an important part of our native flora. We have had a debate about whether the plant should be removed, but it is one of several very toxic plants such as Foxglove and Yew that people are generally happy to live with. Also it is in an obscure place away from paths, so for the moment it is being allowed to stay.    

This year seems to be a good one for butterflies across Hitchin, and in the cemetery in particular, and the photos below show just some of them: a Meadow Brown, a female Common Blue, a Large Skipper & a Marbled White.


A couple of moths also deserve a mention: the cemetery was visited by a stunning Jersey Tiger moth which is black and white and shows bright orange underwings when it flies, and we had the exciting sixth ever Hertfordshire sighting of the very small, but very beautiful Lime Cosmet moth with its orange, black and silver markings!

We want to give a big thankyou to members of the Fire & Rescue service who came along and fitted bat boxes to the chapel recently. We know some of our recently acquired bird boxes have been used this year by Blue and Great Tits and we hope that some local bats will find their new homes in the cemetery too.    

Finally, the Cemetery Friends group attended the History Day event in Church House organised by the Hitchin Historical Society, where we helped people learn about the cemetery, its history and wildlife. There was lots of interest shown and many thanks to all that helped in various ways: writing biographies, providing printing and being on the stall. 



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