Sunday, 8 March 2015

Juniper conservation and a big beech tree

After yesterdays sunshine and warmth, Bug Mad Girl and I were both fooled into thinking spring had well and truly sprung. We had a quick trot around Grangelands, hoping to see wild flowers popping up everywhere and butterflies fluttering all around us. We were also on the look out for the huge roman snails, to see if they'd come out of hibernation. It was overcast and not very warm, so mother nature hadn't been fooled and there were no butterflies, no snails and no flowers!

We did find an empty roman snail shell - beautiful isn't it! Looking forward to them making an appearance in a few weeks.

Grangelands is an important conservation site for juniper in the Chilterns. Juniper is a spiky, evergreen shrub that's in serious decline. It is now quite rare and has been the subject of a major conservation project for many years. It's very slow growing and notoriously hard to germinate, but they seem to be doing something right as there were lots of seedlings growing, as well as older, larger shrubs. There are several pens on the site, not to keep the feisty junipers in, but to keep the rabbits, deer and voles out!
Juniper seedlings grow around the edge of the pen and the ground is cleared
in the middle to provide the exact requirements needed for germination. The
dark bushes in the background are juniper. 

Larger juniper shrubs penned off to stop the animals grazing on them


Another set of seedlings - although these are only a few cm tall, they are
2 or 3 years old
We also discovered a new favourite tree... a great big beech tree. Bug Mad Girl loved it because it was great for climbing and had a rope swing hanging from one of it's branches. I loved it because it was all twisted and gnarled. It had great roots and branches that arched out and down to the ground, making a huge branch umbrella around the tree. It'll be great when it's in leaf because it will be like being inside a tent!
A tree to climb and swing from!

The branches touched the ground all the way round the tree

The roots were all visible spreading out from the tree
It also had a few beech masts still on the tree. They were all empty, but they're such strange little aliens!

We also spotted a few carline thistles, dead but still lovely and a glimpse of things to come!

Finally, walls may have ears, but trees appear to have eyes!

No comments:

Post a Comment