Ancient woodland flora to be found at the Gearrchoille Community Wood Ardgay
A walk around the all abilities path during May has been a treat this year, before the canopy of leaves opens and shades the wood, the spring flowers hurry to flower and set seed while they still have light. Amongst the first were the early flowers of Golden Saxifrage, Chrysosplenium alternifolium, a low growing creeping plant, which prefers the damp areas. Last year’s wet summer seems to have benefited the Primroses, Primula vulgaris, which have seeded down in the grassy areas close to the paths.
The wet winter and subsequent moisture persisting on into April have given the Wood anemones, Anemone nemorosa, a boost, and they have really put on a show this spring. Opening their flowers to make the most of sunshine and closing at night or in overcast weather to protect their yellow anthers, they are an ancient woodland indicator. Because its seeds are rarely fertile, the anemones spread slowly by rhizomes, said to be about 6 ft (2m) per hundred years.
Wood Sorrel, Oxalis acetosella, another ancient woodland indicator, grows amongst the soft grasses in the woodland pasture and the main woodland, its bright green trefoil leaves and small white flowers studding the grass, but it has also been growing in more unusual places, one is flowering in a split in an oak tree, 3 foot off the ground.
The pond is still looking good after its make over two years ago and the banks have repaired well. If you walk around the edge there is the scent of crushed water mint and the golden flowers of King Cups bloom on the ponds’ banks and in all the damp ditches that flow into it. In spite of the very wet conditions that still persist in the wood, the additional board walk, the covering of muddy patches with old fence posts and the addition of copious amounts of rocks and gravel have meant that the wood is still an easy and rewarding place to walk, if you stop and listen you may hear wrens or thrushes proclaiming their territory.
By Cherry Alexander
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