Thank goodness we are beginning to see some frosts, as the English Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta that grows with such abundance in Beatons Wood, needs cold weather to trigger growth. Most plants require a number of hours above a certain temperature before they start growing again, but instead seeds from our bluebells start to germinate when the temperature drops below 10°C!
This picture shows how depleted the water level in the Lower Pond is, due to the low rainfall we have experienced this autumn. Locally, Bewl Water Reservoir reports that they are only holding 33% capacity, quite a serious situation if we do not have an above normal level rainfall this winter. We just hope that by the time we open the 2018 Arlington Bluebell Walk & Farm Trail on 7th April, sufficient rain has come to replenish water stocks, whilst over the five weeks we are open it remains dry!
Beatons Wood, being an ancient wood, has a variety of trees and we are often asked if we could label the different species, so our visitors could learn how they grow, their shape and bark. When we first opened this was done, but I quickly realized it was a bad mistake. Naturally those interested in trees wanted to see them close up, feel the bark and compare the leaves with other trees but, sadly, well-worn tracks appeared resulting in the trampling of the bluebells. Now we are doing the next best thing by displaying the many types of trees we have by these notices (see picture).
We make no excuse by having what some people may regard as an untidy wood, with dead trees (see photo) and branches left where they fell! (See photo) In truth there are few things in a woodland setting that are as alive as ‘dead’ wood! Decaying wood habitats, both standing and lying, as well as ancient trees are essential components to the survival of the rich variety of wildlife in our woodlands. Every element of decaying wood including the roots are host to a myriad of species and are buzzing with life.
This photo shows a very old oak stump on the edge of Beatons Wood that over the years has been coppiced at waist height. This was done to prevent the new shoots being grazed off by deer and also it could have been a ‘marker’ tree depicting the boundary between the wood and adjoining pasture.
I was hoping to be able to announce that we had been successful in obtaining planning permission to use our Barn when the Bluebell Walk was closed to hold low key events such as business seminars, family gatherings, exercise classes and Barn Dances (but nothing that generated excessive noise as we live close by!)
Sadly, we have had to withdraw our application, having started the process in August 2016. Wealden District Council faced the difficulty in not being able to allow any development that could generate additional car journeys across Ashdown Forest, as it has special status being the largest single continuous block of lowland heath in south east England. Planning permission was a crucial condition before we could apply for a generous grant from the EEC, to insulate this building, install heating etc so it could be used throughout the year. Back to the drawing board with disappointment!
2018 Arlington Bluebell Walk & Farm Trail
The dates have now been fixed to open every day from Saturday 7th April to Sunday 13th May, even though we have no idea as to whether it will be an early or late spring! Dates have to be set early, so the 23 local charities that will be involved in its smooth running have sufficient time to try to ensure their volunteers will not be taking a holiday over their duty days. Next month we will be able to announce which days each charity will be covering.
My aim is to try and have the next Blog posted at the end of December.
This message was added on Thursday 30th November 2017
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