‘April showers bring May flowers’
Let’s hope that this isn’t strictly true or we won’t be seeing so many Jubilee Wood wild flowers in May, as the rainfall in this area was down to less than 10 millimetres compared with the average of just over 40 millimetres for April. It has been exceptionally dry and the strong winds of storm Hannah which succeeded in causing a lot of damage to young, tender plants (and many people’s tempers) followed by the heat wave over the late Easter Bank holiday have made it an interesting month. Fortunately, most wild flowers are biding their time, waiting to push their heads up above the fast growing grass and young seedlings. Cow parsley, sometimes known as Queen Anne’s lace, is already flowering along the hedgerows of the Wood and a joy to see as well as being important for a variety of insect life including bees and hoverflies. There are many similar looking plants such as Wild Carrot and Fool’s parsley but the most important one to identify is Hemlock which has similar leaves but the stem has purple spotted markings and the plant is much bigger growing to around two metres. Be warned, it’s poisonous!
The water level in the pond is holding up surprisingly well and many creatures can be seen there. A Pond Dipping event is to be held on Sunday 10th May, all ages and level of ignorance welcome!! We’ll be exploring what’s in the pond and sharing our knowledge as well as helping to make some homes for insects, frogs and toads. As you walk around the wood you can see that Michael has been busy transforming roofing felt and logs into luxury amphibian habitats and we can all help furnish the bug hotel by filling up the pallets in the wood with useful material such as hollow stems, bamboo canes and dried grass if we have any to spare.
The Great Pond Snails Lymnaea stagnalis, are putting on a wonderful display (for a snail) of acrobatics at the moment. It might not seem very likely, but if you have the time to stand or (very carefully) crouch by the side of the pond and watch them they show a remarkable ability to move around and almost dance in the water. There are about 40 different kinds of water snails in Britain and the Great Pond Snail is the biggest growing up to 4cm. Surprisingly perhaps, they breathe with lungs and have a respiratory tube which serves as a snorkel to get fresh air without the need to surface. Watch them for long enough and you’ll see it!
The tree identification walk held in April was a really great way to get to know the Wood better. Michael’s knowledge of the plants and individual trees, not only what species they were but why they were planted there, helped us all to feel closer to this wonderful resource that we have. Proof of its success was how long we all stayed as it was on one of the colder April days but hot drinks and excellent homemade cakes (not to mention the eye catching gazebo) encouraged us all to remain and continue the interesting chat.
Whatever the weather, the Wood remains a place of discovery for most of us if we’re lucky enough to have the time to explore it. Hopefully, you’ll be able to come and enjoy it.
The Wood walker