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Woodland and hedgerow plants : the foxglove

Woodland and hedgerow plants : the foxglove

by blogs at woodlands ~ 15 February, 2021 ~ comments welcome

Whilst Foxgloves are familiar as plants found in cottage gardens, they are also widespread in woodlands and hedgerows. They may be particularly obvious in woodland clearings or areas where coppicing or felling has taken place as they can readily colonise disturbed ground.  If flowering, the foxglove is recognisable by its tall ‘spike’ of pink to purple flowers. The plants are biennial, existing as a rosette of leaves in the first year and then producing the flowering shoot in the second.  The leaves are rather soft to the touch, and downy due many small hairs on their surfaces (see images below).

Foxgloves are favoured by bumblebees which ‘disappear’ into their tubular flowers in search of nectar.  The flowers, which hang downwards, have a wide ‘mouth’ [often with hairs] and provide a ‘landing stage’ for visiting insects. Read more...

Hazel;  Hazelnuts, Filberts, & Cobnuts.

Hazel; Hazelnuts, Filberts, & Cobnuts.

by Lewis ~ 6 March, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Hazels belong to the genus - Corylus, which in turn belongs to the Betulaceae [the birch family].  There are a number of different species within the genus Corylus and a variety of cultivars. The common or European Hazel is named C.avellana; after the Italian town of Avella.  In the past, the hazel was much grown for coppice, indeed in 1905 it is thought that there were some half a million acres of hazel coppice (Mabberley's Plant Book, 3rd Edition 2008).  Its wood / poles was used in the making of hurdles, legume poles, wattle and daub.  Hazel was also much favoured as a rod for water divining.

The hazel was also a source of hazelnuts - the fruit of the tree.  The flowers are produced early in the year in the form of long catkins - the male flowers (see image below).  The female flowers are small, red, ‘bud-like’ structures (image below).  The redness being largely due to the protruding styles (which receive the pollen).  Pollination is anemophilous - i.e. by the wind.   Read more...

Woodlands and biodiversity

Woodlands and biodiversity

by Lewis ~ 29 March, 2018 ~ 3 comments

Most regard woodlands as a beautiful and important part of our countryside, and feel that they can exert a profound and positive influence on our emotional state.    Time spent wandering through the woods can have a relaxing and calming effect. Woodland only forms a small percentage of our countryside (about 13%), and some of that is dominated by conifers planted in the post-war period for timber production; however, the area covered by broad leaved trees is now increasing.    Despite this, our woodlands do harbour a wonderful variety of wildlife (think of the red squirrel, the nightingale, the dormouse) but there is concern that woodland plants and animals face a number of threats - many species are in decline.   Why is this ? Read more...

MIDDLE EARTH ... and our own woodland project

MIDDLE EARTH … and our own woodland project

by Jackie & David ~ 24 February, 2018 ~ 4 comments

As we sat outside The Middle Earth pub on Whitby’s harbour front, enjoying the early evening autumn sunshine, my wife looked at me and said “There’s something I want to talk to you about”. For a heart stopping moment my mind raced and I felt a mixture of emotions as I feared some dreadful news was coming my way. Instead, Jackie completely floored me by asking “How do feel you about us buying a wood?”   In the first instance I was speechless then apprehensive, confused and finally, elated!   Looking back, how I managed to hold onto my pint I’ll never know. Read more...

Woodland moths and butterflies.

Woodland moths and butterflies.

by Lewis ~ 9 September, 2016 ~ 2 comments

There are many types of woodland, which may be broadly categorised by the dominant type of tree(s) - thus there is, birch woodland, oak woodland, beech woodland etc.  The flora and fauna of these different types of woodland varies though there can be similarities.  Some species, such as brambles and ivy can live in a variety of conditions whilst other plants / animals have very specific requirements.

This is certainly true for various animal species - for example, butterflies and moths. For example, the Brimstone (a pale yellow butterfly) has larvae (caterpillars) that need to feed Read more...

Biotic homogenization

Biotic homogenization

by Lewis ~ 30 December, 2015 ~ comments welcome

Biotic homogenization has been defined as follows "the process by which species invasions and extinctions increase the genetic, taxonomic or functional similarity of two or more locations over a specified time interval. Biotic homogenization is now considered a distinct facet of the broader biodiversity crisis having significant ecological, evolutionary and social consequences."   Basically, it refers to an increasing similarity in the make-up of the plant communities found in different places - a bit like High Streets, each of which used to have a special character or 'signature', now it is difficult to distinguish one from another.

In many cases,  biotic homogenization involves the replacement of local floras and faunas with 'introduced species', sometimes referred to as aliens.   Examples of plants that have been introduced and spread are himalayan balsam and japanese knotweed.   Read more...

Woodland types :  Beech Woodlands

Woodland types : Beech Woodlands

by Chris ~ 22 May, 2015 ~ 4 comments

Beech woodland is native to Southern England and Wales (roughly, south of a line drawn from The Wash to the The Severn).  However, in some parts of the country, beech has been planted systematically, for example, John Holliday of Staffordshire planted some 94000 beech in 1791.  Beech is found throughout Central and Western Europe. It is generally found on freely draining (drier) soils (chalks, limestones and light loams) such as found in the Cotswolds, Chilterns and the Downs. Read more...

Small Woodlands in the SW recognised in Royal Forestry Society's annual awards

Small Woodlands in the SW recognised in Royal Forestry Society’s annual awards

by Patricia ~ 3 August, 2012 ~ comments welcome

Four woodlands in the South West have won recognition at this year’s RFS Awards in the Small Woodlands category, sponsored by Woodlands.co.uk.

The first prize went to William Sowerby, owner of Coombeshead, Launceston, Cornwall. Mr Sowerby planted a three and a half acre wood on a hill crest, restoring mature trees, saving old trees from neglect, coppicing, and even planting 300 yards of mixed hedge – which now provides berries and nests to birds, while sheets of corrugated iron on the ground encourage worms and other species. Read more...

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