Yorkshire Arboretum Members’ Newsletter Page 2 VOLUNTEERING If you’d like to help us manage & develop the Yorkshire Arboretum, or know someone else who might, please have a look at the volunteering roles advertised on our website, & contact the Volunteer Coordinators if they are of interest. OUT & ABOUT IN THE ARBORETUM Last autumn volunteers & staff planted 50,000 bulbs – the shipment from Holland weighed just over a ton, so even moving them about was quite a challenge. Although they’re all of cultivated stock, the varieties have been carefully selected to look natural & elegant. No uniform swathes of big yellow daffodils here, but instead a natural-looking scatter of the clone ‘Topolino’, looking like a Wild Daffodil, followed by the pale ‘W.P. Milner’ & the Pheasant’s-eye Narcissus poeticus ‘Recurvus’. On the approach to the Visitor Centre the grass is starred with a succession of smaller bulbs, progressing from snowdrops & crocuses to scillas & grape hyacinths & then to larger daffodils & finally camassias. Camassias are something of a signature plant in the Yorkshire Arboretum, making a very bold statement in May & June. We added another 5000 of them last autumn, extending the plantings from the Visitor Centre to Bracken Hill. The winter storms did not leave the arboretum unscathed, though we got off lightly in comparison with many parts of the country. A few trees blew over in the arboretum, & some branches snapped out, but on the whole damage was limited & was promptly dealt with by Neil Batty & his team. A number of willows were among the casualties, especially where they are growing as large, mature trees in wet ground. We have one of the largest collections of willows in the country, but to keep it healthy we are working through it to tidy up the plants, often coppicing them to stumps to encourage regeneration of vigorous new growth, while others will be repropagated from cuttings. A stock of new accessions has accumulated from gardens across the country, from Windsor Great Park to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, who have all generously donated specimens. They’ve been planted by the Tree Team, ensuring that the arboretum remains an actively growing collection. A highlight is the extremely rare Vietnamese Golden-cypress, Xanthocyparis vietnamensis, discovered only in 1999 & now being propagated at Edinburgh. These will be the first to be planted in North Yorkshire, so we’ll see how well it does in our conditions. FEED THE BIRDS The bird feeding stations (on the lawn adjacent to the café & at the bird observatory) are regularly refilled by one of our valued volunteers. MEMBERSHIP NEWS Thank you to all our Members who have renewed thus far in 2014. Your subscriptions make a real difference to the work we’re able to do here. Paying by Direct Debit reduces our administration costs & ensures your membership never lapses, while completing a Gift Aid declaration to accompany your renewal increases its value to us significantly. Please consider these options when its time for your next renewal. The new Members’ Access System of swipe cards is now fully operational &, after a few minor teething troubles as expected, is working very efficiently, reducing the administrative burden on our Visitor Services Team & increasing the security of the arboretum. If you’d like to topup the feeders between our volunteer’s visits you can buy a bag of bird seed in the shop for only 50p. All proceeds help us develop our conservation work. As a charity with limited resources, the Trust is not able to provide free pooper scoop bags to dog owners. Please ensure you bring along your own supplies for your dog. Regrettably there has been an increase recently in reports of dog mess. This is a health risk & deeply unpleasant for Members, volunteers, visitors & staff. Please help us to keep the arboretum a place of beauty for all by ensuring that you clean up after your dog every time, even in remote areas of the arboretum. We are pleased to offer Members a 10% discount in the Yorkshire Arboretum Shop. Just present your card with your purchases at the till. Please note that, with regret, this discount is not applicable to purchases from the café.
May 2014 Page 3 ANCIENT CRAFTS REVIVED When visiting the arboretum you may have noticed that, as you drive in & walk up to the Visitor Centre, you are now guided by a wattle fence woven by the Tree Team. This ancient art, which dates back at least 6,000 years to the Neolithic period, is undergoing something of a revival as groups of enthusiasts get together to recreate fences & field enclosures similar to those of our ancestors. If you needed a fence before the advent of the Industrial Revolution, then the only thing to do would be to get on & make one by driving in a line of posts, selecting some thin flexible branches pruned from trees & weaving them between the posts. A bit like basket weaving really, but on a much larger scale. You could even weave your own home – adding a coat of daub (an unappealing mixture of clay & cow dung) to weatherproof the building. Another ancient craft which we revived over the winter was building a dead hedge around the old moribund Hornbeam (near Furniture Maker’s walk, along the wall side in area 17A) to preserve the ecological value of the standing dead wood. This hedge is slightly different to the wattle fence, in that you lay out two lines of posts, & then fill between them with the brash that would normally be burnt or go into the chipper. Things like brambles, Hawthorn & Blackthorn make a formidable hedge that would keep your animals safely enclosed, & any potential predators safely at bay. We plan to use more of this sort of dead hedging wherever there is need for a barrier or screen, using brash that would otherwise be useless. It’s environmentally beneficial, reducing our carbon emissions, & provides a useful habitat for many creatures & fungi, as well as being ornamental in its own right. FROM THE EDUCATION TEAM The outdoor education programme is back in action with bookings in place for school visits throughout the summer term. We are looking forward to welcoming new schools as well as old friends to pond-dip & build shelters. The summer months will bring a few changes to our usual calendar with the commencement of the Arboretum Explorers’ Club. This will take place on three Mondays during the summer holiday for intrepid young explorers - children who like the sound of minibeast hunting, creative arts where they can experience poetry, wax-resist pictures or creative tree-designing, & activities such as orienteering & shelter-building. We’re also launching Wild World Wednesdays, offering hourly family drop-in sessions on the day’s theme , whether it be pond-dipping, hunting for minibeasts, skipping through the woodland on fairy adventures, or creating shelters for a pretend night under the stars. Excitingly, later this spring, we will be opening our Woodland Playground, a children’s play area with natural equipment. There will be lots of jumping, climbing & building fun to be had & we look forward to our younger visitors & school groups making the most of this new facility. In conjunction with Buglife, we are promoting the wildflower area near Tercentenary Wood through a minibeast discovery walk. Families will be invited to follow the trail whilst learning about the small creatures which frequent our woodland & meadow areas. Keep an eye out for trail leaflets appearing in the Visitor Centre soon. WOODEN CHAIRS NEEDED PLEASE! Do you have an old wooden-backed chair lurking in the shed, or cluttering the kitchen? If you could spare it, we could use it. All will be revealed later… PROUD TO BE YORKSHIRE We’re joining in the countywide excitement about the Grand Depart of the Tour de France by taking part in the RHS/Welcome to Yorkshire initiative to ‘Turn Yorkshire Yellow’. We’re creating a yellow bicycle wheel in plants in Area 15 – follow its progress over the next few months. And we’re celebrating Yorkshire Day, Friday 1 st August, with our first ‘Yorkshire Voices’ concert featuring several local choirs (& some very familiar arboretum faces!) Bring a picnic & enjoy a summer evening in the arboretum at this unmissable event.