Looking Good Now at the Arboretum - Native Woodland and Surprising Seeds

Sun July 23rd, 2017

Our Bluebell Wood and Lime Wood are wonderful, cool, and shady spots for walking in the summer. They are the perfect place for a weekend stroll among the dappled sunlight, under a verdant canopy.

Bluebell Wood, in particular, is barely recognisable to those visitors who saw the carpet of bluebells in the spring: now a thick maze of bracken dominates the space. Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) is a pioneering plant which can thrive in a wide variety of conditions and has to be managed in many places where it out-competes other species. But bracken isn’t all bad. Historically it has been harvested as bedding, and even fodder, for livestock. It has been used as mulch to protect other plants, or suppress weeds, and even as an alternative to peat (but it can also be toxic, so take care!).  

Bracken also plays an important role in our native woodland. It provides a favoured hunting ground for many small birds and acts as shelter for small mammals and reptiles. During the summer it shades spring plants like bluebells and wood anemones from the summer sun, and when it dies back in winter it can shelter these flowering plants from the harshest frosts.  

When you step out of the native woodland and into the meadows or the Acer Glade, take a moment to enjoy the fascinating shapes of the many seed pods that are appearing. In the meadow, vetch, yellow rattle and sorrel are all clattering and jangling with seeds. In the Acer Glade Acer palmatum ssp. Matsumuae, Acer palmatum var. Heptalobum ‘Osakazuki’, and Acer tataricum ssp. ginnala are all sporting colourful seeds.