Double flowers

If you are planting your flower beds and hanging baskets this weekend, keep our dwindling population of pollinators in mind and please don’t plant double flowers.

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Invasion of the Spanish squill

On Friday we posted a gallery of grey squirrels, an invasive alien species that has almost completely replaced our native squirrel population. Unfortunately, our native bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) is also being threatened by the spread of an invasive alien: Spanish squill (Hyacinthoides hispanica), a similar bluebell species imported into our gardens from southern Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The extraordinary flowers of wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides) growing in the Arboretum.

Conservation status: common

Pictures by Suzanne Humphries

COULD FOOD FORESTS BE THE FUTURE FOR ORCHARDS?  

You will know that the Park has an orchard that was planted a few years ago.  Some of you might have helped to plant it.  It was created as a Community Garden and to maintain expertise we keep in contact with the Orchard Project, a national organisation for such orchard managers.  This article is from their latest newsletter, which I feel will interest many park users. 

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The first fritillaries

Julie Newblé and Ian Bushell have sent us pictures of the first of the year’s beautiful snake’s head fritillaries (fritillaria meleagris), which are classified as vulnerable on the Vascular Plant Red Data List for Great Britain.

Nettle soup

The stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) are coming up: wonderful habitat for invertebrates, itchy feet for our dogs and free food for us. Try nettle soup, easy to make, nutritious and very tasty.

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Our blackthorn blossom has been beautiful this year.

pictures by Suzanne Humphries

A splash of colour in the park

by Simon Knight

It is lovely to finally see flowers and colour arriving in the park, signalling that spring will soon be upon us.

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Lesser Celandine

The lesser celandines (Ficaria verna) are in flower. Celandines are the floral equivalent of the swallow, they appear around the same time and mark the coming of spring. In fact the word celandine comes from the Greek name for swallow: chelidon. One of its local names is spring messenger; others are brighteye, butter and cheese, frog’s foot, golden guineas and, less romantically, pilewort because it was once used to treat haemorrhoids.

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Crocus vernus photographed in the park by Clive Knight. Crocuses are not native to Britain; they were brought here from central and southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and China, in the 15th century.

Sunday walk

FoSCP members, Ian and Pat, walk in the park with Pat’s dogs early on Sunday mornings. Pat, our champion litter picker, picks up the rubbish other park-goers have left behind, while Ian surveys the fields and woods for first flowerings, new species and the occasional damage, and reports back to HQ. Here is last Sunday’s bag:

“…Bullfinch in the hedge near Stoat Oak, native Daffodils in flower and Stinking Iris leaves at bottom of Kestrel Field near to the pond…”

[1[ Bullfinch ‎(Pyrrhula pyrrhula);‎ [2] Native daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus); the flowers [3], seeds [4] and strap-like leaves of Stinking Iris (Iris foetidissima)

Pussy willow

A goat willow’s flowers, or catkins, known as pussy willow because they look like furry grey kittens’ paws, appear in February, one of the earliest signs of spring in the park.

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