Tag Archives: Flora

Living Willow Sculpture 2014 Maintenance

Part tree, part artwork, our living willow sculpture received a welcome maintenance session this week. Originally called ‘Shelter Skelter’, the sculpture was created by landscape artist Clare Wilks and has provided interest to visitors for more than twenty years.

Most of the long rods formed over the last 12 months were removed and replanted to create new sculptural borders or ‘fedging’ – the term used to describe living willow borders (literally a cross between ‘hedge’ and ‘fencing’). The once-lost central section was replanted too with the aim of recreating the original inner circle.

Flexible willow rods easily take root and can produce fresh leaf growth as early as late spring. Take a look yourself; aim east and north from the car park and you’ll find the sculpture situated on the side of the main path just past Diana’s Glade.

Words and photographs by Kate Starlling

Fungus Foray With Dr Vin Fleming

Armed with bags, baskets and buckets of enthusiasm, a large group of foragers set out on Sunday keen to delve into the dark and often mysterious world of fungi. A lovely sunny afternoon greeted us and under the expert guidance of Dr Vin Fleming, we set off through the autumn undergrowth.

Dr Fleming began by setting younger foragers the challenge of finding the biggest and brightest fungi, but I think it fair to say that a general sense of competition ran through the entire group as parents, grand-parents, aunts and uncles set their sights on searching out the most spectacular of the fungus world.

And we weren’t disappointed. From creamy Giant Funnel Caps to the tiny but brilliantly green Parrot Waxcap and the delicate almost translucent parasol of the Pleated Ink Cap, around 40 species were found by more than 50 foragers in less than an hour – a spectacular result and a surprise for many to learn just what tiny treasures grow beneath our feet.

Dr Fleming regaled us with tales of shamanic rituals involving the striking but psychoactive red and white Amanita Muscaria – more commonly known as Fly Agaric. He demonstrated how the humble Puffball cleverly disperses its spores in the wind, and on our behalf he tasted the milk from an innocuous looking Lactarius Milk Cap only to report the flavour not dissimilar to battery acid.

On the subject of taste, the most common question posed to our expert was perhaps unsurprisingly: “Is it edible?” Dr Fleming was at pains to point out that eating fungi other than those bought at a supermarket is something best left to the highly trained, despite the temptations of a seemingly endless supply of free food.

But if we couldn’t eat them, we could definitely smell them and much joy was had discovering their perfume; from the pleasant essence of aniseed and cinnamon, to the less agreeable whiff of old laundry and raw potatoes. And for those able to identify the smell, it was reported that the odours of disused lift shafts, Russian leather and even bed bugs are not unusual bouquets to find among the fungi family!

This was a highly enjoyable, entertaining and educational event. As one young forager said: “I really loved it, next time I come to the Woods, I’ll be looking down at the ground as well as all around me!”

Words by Kate Starlling
Photographs by Esme Redshaw

Identify Wild Flowers And Berries With Naturetale App

Do you want help identifying wild flowers and berries? Friends Chairman Richard Jefferson has helped develop a new mobile phone app to help people enjoy plants more. Working with a friend he has produced the Naturetale App. This enables people to identify the wild flowers and berries you are likely to encounter on a country walk. Continue reading Identify Wild Flowers And Berries With Naturetale App