At the Annual General Meeting of the Darwin Gardens Trust, those present voted unanimously to endorse the current trustees' resolution to fulfil the legal process which will have the effect of Ilkley Parish Council becoming a sole corporate trustee of the Millennium Green. Now that the Green has reached maturity and essentially requires a steady, low-level maintenance input, we feel that this will be the best course of action for its long term security.
Today was the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, and the occasion was marked in Ilkley by a proclamation of the Town Crier, followed by a reception in the Council Chamber for representatives of local community groups.
As the location of Darwin's recuperative spa treatment during the publication of 'The Origin of Species', Ilkley has an enduring connection with this celebrated figure, reflected in a variety of events throughout this Bicentenary year.
The Trust's main contribution was a series of guided walks led by trustee Ken Cooke, starting from Darwin Gardens and taking in the places associated with Charles Darwin in Ilkley. In conjunction with this a leaflet describing the walk has been produced and is available from the Tourist Information Centre on Station Road, and local bookshops.
After an unusually long winter, welcome signs of spring returning to the Millennium Green included hazel catkins in the hedge and frogspawn in the pond. During the 'dormant season' volunteers have given the willow arbour its annual trimming, and contractors have laid an extension to the waterside pathway.
A colourful character was frequently on the scene in the shape of a handsome male pheasant, and there was at least one female who nesting nearby. Floral colours were also in abundance, with dazzling displays of primroses, and a flourishing establishment of wood anemones, both species that have been reintroduced by volunteer planters; and the thyme-leaved speedwell, a small but attractive plant with a delicate blue/purple flower.
Two plants which were largely reintroduced by volunteers to the Millennium Green - red campion and water avens - are now flowering in abundance there, together with the wood avens or herb bennet which has remained indigenous to the site. As a result we now have hybrids between wood and water avens, which display some features from both the parent species, as shown in the images below.
Red Campion Wood Avens Hybrid Water Avens
This month saw the 10th anniversary of the Darwin Gardens Trust, the group responsible for the creation and maintenance of Ilkley's Millennium Green. The trustees wish to pass on their best wishes to all who have volunteered their services or donated funds to the project, and to wish our many visitors continued enjoyment in the future.
At a recent meeting of Ilkley Parish Council, the current trustees signed the relevant documents to transfer the trusteeship of the Millennium Green to IPC, heralding a significant new era in the evolution of Darwin Gardens. The site will of course continue to be a wonderful resource for wildlife, allied to a peaceful recreational area for both local residents and visitors.
Ilkley Parish Council formally became the sole corporate trustee of the Darwin Gardens Trust, taking over responsibility for the continuing management of the Millennium Green. Former trustees met up with IPC representatives including Councillor Stuart Goddard who has taken the role of Project Manager. We look forward to working with Stuart during a year-long 'familiarisation period' commencing with a site visit to prepare for Ilkley's summer inspection by Britain in Bloom judges.
The University of Bradford marked the bicentenary of Charles Darwin's birth by holding an International Darwin Conference on 24th-26th September, an event which brought together speakers from the disciplines of the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. The final day's session of the conference took place at the Manor House Museum in Ilkley, and participants also enjoyed taking a tour of the locations familiar to the great naturalist and author of 'On the Origin of Species', first published 150 years ago during his residence in Ilkley.
This month saw the last of the Trust's 'Darwin Walks' led by former Trust Secretary Ken Cooke. As well as providing a prospect of the historic buildings familiar to Charles Darwin, the walk also included a some fine sights of the Millennium Green's tree and hedgerow plantings bearing fruit.
A leaflet describing the walk continues to be available from the Tourist Information Centre, Station Road, Ilkley and from local bookshops.
During rough weather conditions a large willow tree fell into the gill at the lower end of the site, forming a dam which could lead to the gill flooding into neighbouring streets, particularly after heavy rainfall. Site manager Stuart Goddard alerted Bradford Council to clear the blockage as a matter of priority.
Bradford Council responded to the situation caused by the fallen willow and cleared away the obstruction to allow free flow along the gills, incidentally also helping to restore an attractive vista towards the moor, which it may be possible to enhance by further managed clearance.
.At the close of this eventful year, both former and new trustees look forward to seeing Darwin Gardens continue to flourish in the future.