WINCHESTER nature lovers blew away any Christmas cobwebs with a walking survey of plants in their neighbourhood.

An example of 'citizen science', the New Year Plant Hunt was an informal group and concentrated on the eastern side of the city including St Giles Hill, Alresford Road and Wolvesey Palace.

Anna Stewart took part and said 51 species of native or naturalised flowers were seen within three hours of recording on Saturday December 30.

Around eight people with various degrees of knowledge of plants joined the hunt.

The New Year Plant Hunt is supported by The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.

Anna is also on a mission to encourage the city council to plant resistant elm in Winchester and in particular St Giles Hill Park. The St Giles Hill Graveyard, Alresford Road, will be planting resistant elms in 2024.

Dutch Elm Disease wiped out most British elms in the 1970s but cultivars are being taken of resistant trees.

Recently, Andrew Brookes, of the Hampshire branch of Butterfly Conservation, visited St Giles Hill to see the work that is being done, largely by volunteers, managing the park after years of neglect.

Mr Brookes has produced a paper on elm trees resistant to Dutch Elm Disease and he is advising on elm plantings.