In 2019, SSE cleared the trees and understorey from beneath their power lines where they crossed the park. It made a bit of a mess, particularly in the area of the blackthorn tunnel, but there have been advantages, too.
It has let sunlight into the ancient woodland ditch that runs parallel to the tunnel and all sorts of plants have been jump-started into life. At the moment it is the primroses, shaken out of their long dormancy into a mass of yellow flowers, buzzing with pollinators.
Primroses enter a state of hibernation in winter when the temperature and the number of daylight hours fall; they slow their metabolism until they are using the barest minimum of energy, just enough to keep the plant’s root system alive, hidden away underground.
As this ancient ditch was overgrown by the copse, the primroses interpreted the loss of light in just the same way and became dormant, sleeping for years as they waited for better circumstances. Their seeds have also remained dormant because there wasn’t enough light or warmth for them to germinate.
Letting the light in has triggered the dormant plants back into life and prompted the hidden seeds to germinate, producing a gorgeous spread of fragrant, pale yellow flowers, a magnet for all our early nectar feeders. Take a stroll along the blackthorn tunnel, between Kestrel Field and the Lambrok tributary, and visit the primroses.
Header picture by Ian Bushell