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Flowers, nectar and 'mad honey'

Flowers, nectar and ‘mad honey’

by Chris ~ 13 July, 2018 ~ 3 comments

Nectar is a sugar-rich liquid produced by special glands on a plant.  These glands are normally associated with the flowers - but not always.  Floral nectaries are often found at the base of the petals so that a visiting insect picks up or deposits pollen whilst collecting the nectar.  The visitor thus 'helps’ the plant to reproduce / set seed.   Common pollinators are bumblebees, bees, wasps, moths, butterflies and hummingbirds;  less common pollinators are flies, ants, possums and bats.

However, nectaries can be found elsewhere on a plant - on leaves, leaf stalks (petioles), stems and fruits; these are extra-floral nectaries. Read more...

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (and arboretum)

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (and arboretum)

by Chris ~ 25 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Whilst in Edinburgh recently, I was able to visit the Royal Botanic Garden.  This garden dates back to 1670 when it was established as a physic garden; now it consists of some 70 acres of landscaped grounds close to the city centre (and easily accessible on one of the tourist buses).  During the last 100 years, three Regional Gardens have also been acquired –  Benmore in Argyll; Dawyck in the Scottish Borders and Logan on the  southern peninsula of Dumfries & Galloway.  Together they constitute one of the world’s largest collections of living plants (the Edinburgh garden also houses the Herbarium - which is 'home' to some three million specimens). Read more...

Woodland Goats 

Woodland Goats 

by Rebecca Cork ~ 24 July, 2017 ~ 2 comments

At Tortworth Arboretum we are restoring a 20-acre woodland for community use – clearing an abandoned woodland of ten years of neglect while making it accessible for people to come and learn about nature, as well as improve their mental and physical health and wellbeing. We manage the woodland mostly with hand tools and an ever-evolving team of volunteers who give their time freely to the project.   The woodland is host to hundreds of exotic trees from around the world, planted from the 1850s onwards by the local Earl, as well as some stunning veteran oaks and sweet chestnut trees.

And we have goatsRead more...

Spraying - herbicide and pesticide application

Spraying – herbicide and pesticide application

by Chris Langford ~ 14 January, 2016 ~ comments welcome

I recently undertook a Knapsack Sprayer PA1 and PA6a (NPTC) 2 day course. The course is aimed at anyone using, or purchasing pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, and applying them with a knapsack sprayer on land. The courses cover the correct preparation of equipment as well as its maintenance, safe operation and calibration. The course was broken down into the following sections:- Read more...

Chatsworth Arboretum and Pinetum - highly managed woodlands

Chatsworth Arboretum and Pinetum – highly managed woodlands

by Angus ~ 8 May, 2015 ~ comments welcome

In the 1830s the 6th Duke of Devonshire, owner of the Chatsworth Estate in Derbyshire, was one of the first to plant a pinetum and arboretum.  He did this in partnership with Joseph Paxton, who later became famous for building the Crystal Palace exhibition in London.  Taking a few acres of grazing land above the great house at Chatsworth, they set about planting trees systematically in accordance with the botanical classification used at the time.  It's very clear that both the Duke and Joseph Paxton had great fun in their creation of some large-scale landscape features.   Read more...

Native dominants or botanical 'thugs’ in woodland.

Native dominants or botanical ‘thugs’ in woodland.

by Lewis ~ 28 March, 2014 ~ 2 comments

Much has been written  recent in recent years about the ‘dangers’ posed to our native flora & ecosystems by ‘alien’ invasive species.  Introduced species such Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), and Rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum) have been cited as ‘drivers’ of ecosystem change – alongside habitat loss, pollution and over-exploitation.

However, voices have been raised to express concern over certain native species that can grow rapidly producing large amount of biomass (or indeed necromass – think bracken dying down in late autumn) and how they may be impacting on our flora, particularly plants of the woodland herb or field layer.  Read more...

Invasives and aliens - PlantTracker app.

Invasives and aliens – PlantTracker app.

by Chris ~ 31 January, 2013 ~ Comments Off on Invasives and aliens – PlantTracker app.

Some plants, like the Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed are spreading across the country.   Giant Hogweed, also known as wild rhubarb, giant cow parsnip or giant cow parsley is a dangerous plant.  It was introduced as an ornamental plant in the C19th; it is however – phototoxic.  If the sap gets on the skin then photodermatitis occurs – causing blistering of the skin and scarring, and minute amounts in the eyes can cause blindness.

Invasive non-native spacies can displace native species, altering the ecology of various habitats; they might be described as ‘botanical thugs’. One single hogweed plant is capable of producing 80,000 seeds.  Once established the removal of these plants can be expensive and time consuming.  The earlier an ‘outbreak’ or invasion by one of these plants is reported, the easier it is to deal with. Read more...

Heathlands

Heathlands

by Chris ~ 22 September, 2011 ~ comments welcome

Heathland is a threatened habitat.  Over the last two hundred years, the U.K. has lost some 150,000 hectares of heathland.  There is now only  58,000 ha of heathland left in the U.K; this represents one fifth of the world's total.  Areas of heathland can be found in the High Weald of Kent (Ashdown Forest) and the Breckland of East Anglia.  Breckland is a particular type of heathland, being a dry heath.  The average annual rainfall is only 600 mm or so and  it experiences hot summers and cold winters, together with frequent frosts. Read more...

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