The Garden covers a vast area and our Tuesday morning meanders can only cover small parts of it at any one time. On November 25th last year, as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Garden took part in the Transglobal tree planting, the scheme to plant 6 million trees. In this Diamond wood, up on the Woods of the World area, nearly 3,000 Birch, Poplar, Alder, Willow and Oak were planted and we were keen to see how they had survived the harsh winter.. We didn’t check out the celebratory oak, raised from an acorn from Sandringham, which was planted as a special commemoration of the Queen’s Jubilee” but were delighted to find that every tree we did look at seemed to be thriving. Alas, because of Ash dieback none of this species was planted even though they had been on the original order.
Unlike that Sunday in November, when heavy rain had turned the path into a small river, the weather was dry, as was the ground. And the view part across the Garden and surrounding area is nothing short of stunning. The wood itself has various sections and, as well as the native species there are exotics like Monkey Puzzles which seem to be thriving.
Up on the exposed topmost hillock, despite the sunshine there was a stiff north-easterly breeze blowing but, not far from the shelter of a very large Lime tree we came across what could be best described as a watering hole – and footprints. ‘Deer’, said Jan and Simon Goodenough, our curator, confirms that he too has seen a Fallow deer there. Could be a problem for the trees!
We were pleased to see lots of Butterflies, mainly Green-Veined White and Small White, amongst the Meadow Buttercups, Red Clover and ‘Bacon and Egg’ (Birds Foot Trefoil), Then, returning back along Llyn Uchaf we came across a few interesting insects and John captured a rather unusual photo of a Blue Damsel fly.
Also along this lake there were a pair of Canada Geese, plus 5 goslings. Not a native species and in many areas regarded as a pest due to the way they drive out native species and the way they foul both land and water. Originally there was just one pair at the Garden, now there are 3 pairs and, as they are such brilliant parents, we shall no doubt soon have a lot more!
Back near the gatehouse at the water’s edge we found many hundreds of Toad Tadpoles. Frog Spawn is laid in clumps in shallower water, whereas Toad Spawn is laid in long strings. Frog Tadpoles are black and become mottled/brown as they develop whereas Toad Tadpoles stay black and, unlike Frog Tadpoles often form shoals. These were definitely shoaling and black, but it can be difficult to distinguish between them in a small pond.
Thanks to John James for his photos and if any volunteer or member is interested in joining us, or even starting something similar on a different day, then send an email to Colin Miles – also if you see or photograph anything exciting in the Garden – like 8 Red Kites circling over the lane behind the Science Block yesterday. If you click on any of the images in these blogs, or anywhere else you will see a larger picture.