SUMMER 2002 PROGRESS UPDATE: YORKSHIRE DAY
Following the spectacular spring flower displays in the meadow/grassland areas of the site, we have continued to restore and augment woodland and wetland flora, with plantings of: wood sorrel, wood cranesbill, red campion, yellow loosestrife, stinking hellebore, meadowsweet, lily of the valley, ragged robin, water avens, kingcup, bistort, yellow flag, pendulous sedge, great pond sedge and great wood rush. A group of royal ferns have also been planted in honour of HM The Queen's Golden Jubilee.
Amongst the flora naturally regenerating in these areas are clumps of hedge woundwort, heath bedstraw, square-stemmed St John's wort, and drifts of enchanters nightshade; whilst the grassland areas have shown an abundance of self-heal. We are monitoring the resurgence of species such as marsh thistle, spear thistle and creeping thistle to strike a balance between retaining these valuable insect food plants whilst controlling their spread.
The return of summer also means the annual return of sheep grazing over the common land of Ilkley Moor and Darwin Gardens. Whilst providing free fertiliser for the grassland areas of the site, they also have a penchant for the tender young leaves of the developing wildlife hedgerow which has been planted here! Consequently we have now installed sheep-proof fencing round the hedge, which will remain in place for several years, until the trees are sturdy enough to resist grazing pressure. We trust our visitors and sponsors of trees in the hedge will appreciate the benefit of this measure, which will also allow us to revive the hedgerow dedication scheme in due course.
About two-thirds of the 1000 flagstones in the Millennium Maze have now been dedicated and new dedications are being added quarterly to our display board beside the maze area. Full details on dedicating flagstones, with application forms and a regularly updated list of available flagstone numbers continue to be available at the main signboard behind the car-parking area, and also at the Millennium Green website www.darwingardens.co.uk.
In May we hosted a one-day event in support of 'The 2002 Campaign', a nationwide series of seminars and site visits organised by Shell Better Britain to demonstrate examples of sustainable development in voluntary/community projects. Blessed by fine weather, delegates from far and wide enjoyed an extensive tour of the site, and the opportunity to share knowledge and experience in helping to progress similar schemes elsewhere.
We have continued general maintenance work to keep the site in good fettle for the judges from 'Britain in Bloom' , and hope that visitors will enjoy the guided wildlife walks over the Green organised on August 1st as our contribution to the celebration of Yorkshire Day
A group of 10 hardy souls including several children defied the weather to take part in a wildlife walk around the site, led by Darwin Gardens Trust members Ken Cooke and Bob Briggs. The walk included a fascinating examination of several plants with medical or magical properties, such as self-heal, hedge woundwort, foxglove, St John's wort and enchanters nightshade.
As well as a fine display of ferns in the ghyll and ladies bedstraw in the meadow, the picnic area provided good specimens of 'bacon & egg' and coffee & cream' plants to see the party on their way to the cafe at White Wells!
Highlight of the afternoon was the ceremonial planting of a horse-chestnut tree by Peter North and friends in honour of an antipodean honorary Yorkshireman. The party rose to the challenge of torrential conditions with true Yorkshire grit, and celebrated the occasion with great Yorkshire humour!
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