Friday, 6 May 2011
Badgers, Bryophytes and more Bluebells
This is the best photo of a badger I could manage in the twilight at Wakehurst Place, inside a hide with a dozen of other badger watchers, making sure I didn’t scare one of the three creatures on show with a flash or an overly exuberant clicking mechanism.
It felt very English. As did wandering through more English Bluebells on the way to the hide. As did the slight chill in the air. Still, it was a fine ending to a fine day at what we like to call "Kew in the Country" (about an hour south of London, half way to Brighton).
Early in the day I’d toured Wakehurst Place Manor, the Winter and Southern Hemisphere Gardens, the nursery and walled garden, and bits and pieces of the Francis Rose Reserve and other natural areas. Two stunning specimens were from the protea family – the Chilean Firebush (Embothrium coccineum) from South America and, pictured here, a waratah (Telopea oreades) from you know where.
This iconic Yew straggled across a piece of sandstone is in the Francis Rose Reserve, a particularly rich habitat for mosses and liverworts (i.e. bryophytes). I noted a few algae on the rocks too and will dig up the paper by Mr Rose on the flora of these porous sandstones.
Most of the tree plantings at Wakehurst are arranged geographically and this very attractive grove of Wollemi Pine was faring much better than a few banksias nearby. In fact a ?coastal banksia had been doing very nicely for nearly 10 years but was knocked off by the very cold winter this year – with temperatures down to minus 10.
As with Kew Gardens in town there are big plans afoot for Wakehurst including better linkages between the Millenium Seed Bank (which I tour tomorrow) and the plants toughing it out in the gardens and forests. In the next few months this connection will begin with a vegetable garden opening to the public and some plots to grow British plants for reintroduction. Already the nursery and seed bank work together closely to harvest more seed from rare plants, or plants with rare seed.