After a mild winter the snowdrops in the wood were in flower by mid-January and the bluebells were coming up by the beginning of February. Then Ciara, Dennis and Jorge turned up and caused a good deal of damage. Twigs and tree limbs litter the paths, a larch tree came down across the drive and this old ash tree, to the right of the drive just into the wood, snapped off and brought down some surrounding smaller trees. Many of the casualties early on had large growths of ivy around the crown and the combination of this and lots of rain made them top heavy. As the ground was still fundamentally dry after the last summers drought, the trees just uprooted. Others, like the one above, snapped off because they were rotten – not so much ‘why did they fall?’, but ‘how did they stand up for so long?’. Clearing up will take the volunteers quite a while.
However the signs of spring continue. In case you missed them, the snowdrops were wonderful [nearly over now at the beginning of March], the bluebells are definitely coming up, the celandines are out and the the dog’s mercury [indicator species for ancient woodland, as well as bluebells] is several inches [sorry centimetres] high. The paths are muddy and walking is tricky, but in the odd interval of blue sky, try to get up to Batchwood and see it all.