I started my blog about Catbrook wood when we first decided to buy it…. at that stage it was a dark and dense plantation of Corsican Pines, there were a few deciduous trees struggling to get a bit of light and there were even a few wild flowers. Being a ‘good ecologist’ ?? I made a list of the species growing in the wood at this stage.
The pines were soon removed and the process of developing a mixed deciduous woodland resembling something like what I imagined it would have looked like before the telegraph pole/pit prop production line was installed. In this regard I only planted Oaks, Beech and Hazel and even these I grew myself from seeds that I collected locally. That means no more than 10 miles from the wood and most were collected within a mile. So no wild flower seed mixes or bluebells in the green. Any wild flowers were either already there and lying dormant in the soil or they were brought in naturally on the wind or the fur of a visiting fox.
I started to record the wild flowers that ‘popped up’….. Rose bay willow herb, Foxglove, Heather, Ragged robin and quite a few others but there were others growing in the woods close by. Not the 6 acres that we had purchased but nonetheless in the wider area know as Ninewells Wood. So I extended my recording, photographing and writing to include these. In fact by this stage I had discovered that the name Catbrook Wood was quite artificial and was a name invented by ‘Woodlands for Sale’ simply to help sell it. They give all their woods a name. So I removed the sign and now I refer to our wood as ‘part of Ninewells Wood’ which is what it is.
Then I extended my recording to cover other woodland wildflowers growing in neighboring woods along the Wye valley and devoted a section of this blog just to the flowers and I called it Woodland wildflowers of the Wye Valley.
Having got this far and having received some encouragement from folks saying how interesting they found some of the stuff I was writing. I then decided to start a new blog covering all wildflowers growing in woods. I even won an award from Woodlands for sale, and that was despite removing the sign with the name they had given to our wood.
In fact there are not that many more wildflowers growing across the UK than there are in the Wye Valley, it being a very natural and diverse area.
This new blog is a bit more ambitious though and includes other stuff apart from just the flowers, there is information about the evolution of plants, the woodland environment, the age of trees and such like. You can have a look if you like it is simply called Woodland Wildflowers… of the Wye valley and beyond.
So now I am busy trying to locate and photograph all the flowers which might grow in woodlands. I have quite a collection of photos taken over the years of wildflowers but obviously there are some gaps. For example I know I have photographed Butchers Broom in the past but my system of filing my photos is almost non existent so it was easier to locate some which I did in a park on the edge of Gloucester and take a selection of photos. My next target plant was Stinking Hellebore and I visited several locations in the Cotswold’s without any luck only to discover that there are hundreds of them growing on the hills just behind where I live in Clearwell. With my binoculars I could probably see them from an upstairs window.
I have recently got permission to photograph Yellow Star of Bethlehem, growing on a reserve in Warwickshire, so in a week or so I should be able to tick that off. Now I am searching for Butter-bur. I have one photo but I took that several years ago in Poland. A lady who was reading one of my blogs said she had seen it growing ‘half way up Coppet Hill’ which is a bit closer than Poland… only about 10 miles away. So a couple of days ago I went to Coppet hill and spent several hours like the Grand old Duke of York, half way up and half way down but not seeing any Butter-bur.
When I am three quarters done in maybe a year or so I might try to see if I can get my blog made into a book and get it published, however I think this is a somewhat time consuming and fraught process. I will give it a go but unless it happens relatively easily then I cant see myself hitting my head against a wall for too long.