Autumn is now upon us and as the summer draws to an end, many plants are completing their yearly cycle which in turn effects the lives of our native wildlife species. The trees will begin to reduce the chlorophyll in their leaves, which is responsible for their lush green appearance and the trace chemicals that remain create the vibrant colours of autumn, that we are all so familiar with. The abundance of seeds and fruits at this time of year, see our wildlife being resourceful and making use of this yearly provision, fattening up and storing supplies for the harsh months of winter which follow.
The meadows at the Park have recently been cut as their respective species have all now seeded. Cutting annually is proving to be successful ensuring the many species of birds, mammals, reptiles and insect life that rely on this habitat are able to establish themselves too. Norfolk Bluebell Wood is operating a cut and collect policy to reduce the nitrates and fertility of the soil. Wildflower species do much better in low nutrient soil. Where the fertility is high, grasses and other species quickly get established and dominate, outcompeting most of the more favourable wildflower species. Collecting the cut grass is also important as this can lay quite heavy producing a thick thatch low down in the meadow structure, thus preventing the seeds of other species making contact with the soil restricting germination and growth for the following year. Together with Ian Howard, a local cattle farmer, who uses the majority of the hay for winter feed, and our small team we have managed to complete the annual cut over the past three weeks, with the help of some dry weather.
We have taken the decision to introduce rhinanthus minor, the yellow rattle as this is parasitic to grass, reducing its virility by up to 60%, allowing for an up lift in diversity in the years to come. 500 daffodil bulbs are also being planted this year as we aim to add another species of interest. Narcissus pseudonarcissus is the correct botanical name for the native wild daffodil. The petals are pale yellow with a bright yellow trumpet with the overall plant being squat in stature, allowing them to be more robust in open areas.
Autumn can often be a very pleasant time to get out and see nature with temperatures ideal for walking, along with crisp clear mornings and some beautiful sunsets, so get your walking boots on and come and visit us at the Park.