Our ‘Meet and Eat the Invaders’ Biodiversity Day took place on May 22 nd with Willow Park 4 th Class and their Dean of Studies Killian Boland. The morning began with an introductory power point presentation on Booterstown, the Nature Reserve, general information on invasive species from Giant Hogweed to the Grey squirrel ending with the Japanese Knotweed which is now a scourge now growing beside An Taisce’s Nature Reserve (but not on our property). The pupils asked inquiring and insightful questions. None of them had been to the Reserve but several had passed it. So with their theory work completed the outing to the reserve was taken by our botanist leader Sara Rubulcava. She showed them the different plants, where they grew and the difference between their flowers and leaves. A spider’s nest containing up to a hundred small spiders was of great interest as were the numerous ladybirds, no Harlequins thank goodness. Sara took them to the ever spreading Japanese Knotweed which is growing in stands along the north side of the culvert. She outlined its ability to spread underground and the dangers to our natural flora, not to mention its ability to burst through concrete and foundations. Our information was so clear that one little boy decided to plant some knotweed on the viewing area until spotted by an eagle eyed Veronica Heywood who dispatched the offending alien.

Returning to school we prepared for the great knotweed bake off. Rose Comiskey and I set to issuing instructions on weighting, measuring and mixing the ingredients. Everyone wanted their share of knotweed and dandelion flowers in the muffin mix. The muffin trays were filled and baked. Thirty minutes later back in class the roasting hot trays arrived, waiting impatiently we found one boy declared that he didn’t want one. We made about 36 muffins which when they had cooled were snapped up by the boys. The non participant resolutely refused one until there were only two left, ‘final chance’ he was told and the last one was in his hand! They all declared that the Dandy Knotweed muffins were really good and have lived to tell the tale. What a good use this would be for knotweed and it might even help to eradicate this menace.

My thanks to everyone who helped on the day and especially the boys of 4 th class and Killian Boland, it was a pleasure. We all agreed it was a great experience and something quite of the ordinary school schedule and were invited back again for another event.

Rebecca Jeffares Trees, Environment and Events Committee, Dun Laoghaire Local Association