On the fringe, where the trees give way to open pasture, the woodland floor is green again. Dog’s mercury, wood sorrel and lesser celandine are in flower. Not very far into the trees - a mix of pine and birch - the woodland floor is sterile, laid waste by rampant, invasive rhododendron. Now that we have cut back and burned the wooden weed, it will be interesting to see what springs up. Perhaps that will amount to very little in the coming season but, come next year, native nature should be back.
|Volunteers at work|
|Burning the rhododendrons|
Away from our woodland wasteland, native nature is stirring. Primroses flower on tracksides, wood anemone take advantage of the early spring sunlight before the leaves are fully out on the trees, among it the emerging arrow heads of cuckoo pint.
|Goat willow catkin|
There’s a narrow path here where badgers – regular in their habits – make their way to forage and use the latrine. A roe deer is glimpsed not too far distant, but feels safe enough not to run. A green woodpecker calls, jays quietly come and go in pairs; a buzzard cries. Our constant distraction, though, is a pair of red kites circling, and returning time after time to the same tree. We are delighted to see them, but this choice of nesting site is in a far too busy, public area, and is destined to failure. We hope they go away, deeper into undisturbed woods.
|Maze in the Walled Garden|
Steve Wootten & Phil Coyne