Photo essay – a frosty 1st January

David Beeson

Bet you are as fed up with 2020 as I am. I want some sunshine and non-muddy trackways … and a tasty vaccination.

We used to import African art as a Fair Trade product … many still wander the garden. This one thinks it should have migrated.
Frost daggers.
The forest fringe – the grasslands are full of wild daffodils and other delights such as primroses.
The frogs will be with us soon – migrating from the forest in February to breed and run away before the buzzards, owls, stoats and foxes know they are there.
Plenty of food remains. As the starches biologically change into sugars the fruits become palatable.
The forest fringe has been crudely hedged. The hazel is partially cut through, pulled down and staked. It should sprout in spring and form a dense thicket suitable for the dormice. There are hibernation and nesting spots in the 100+ year old stump.
Looks like just grass? Think again, this is biologically diverse.
Just beyond our gate is the ancient woodland. This patch is un-coppiced hazel. The last time it was cut was probably 100 years ago. You will also spot oak trunks. The forest still has the signs of the bomb storage during WW2 – used in the Normandy Landings.
Not pretty! BUT, the native hedge is good for wildlife, the metal is home to voles and slow worms, while the voles enjoy the slowly decaying herbage as cover. There is no need to make everything tidy. We leave piles of herbage along our boundary and beneath will be old roof tiles to give nesting and resting safety.
These native hellebores will perk up soon, and they provide early year nectar to bumblebees.

Most of the plants are in hibernation – hiding their resources away from herbivores. Only the fruits, with the plant’s seeds inside, are being offered – and there is an ulterior motive here. The wild daffodils, found wild in a few woodland patches, are just showing their leaves, the primroses have retreated to small stumps but will be in leaf and flower soon. The energy and nutrient stores are just awaiting favourable conditions to be mobilized and the world will be full of vibrant green growth.

John and I hope you are coping with these unusual times, and do recall – spring is on the way, and the daylight hours are increasing. What a positive thought.

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