Ranscombe Farm Reserve Manager
There are some mighty mood-lifters in the natural world. There's always a kick in seeing an interesting plant or animal for the first time, and it doesn't even have to be something spectacular - I got quite excited by early meadow-grass a few weeks back, which is a diddy little plant and a bit anaemic-looking to boot. But the big pick-me-up, raising us all out of the winter gloom, is the arrival of spring. Robert Browning wrote "Oh, to be in England, now that April's there," as a hymn to the English spring, even though he was in Italy at the time. Or, if you're in the mood for a bit less poetry and a bit more outright enthusiasm, Johnny Mercer, who wrote the lyrics for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, gave us "Ma Nature's lyrical with her yearly miracle, Spring, Spring, Spring", accompanied by a troupe of dancing farmhands.
For myself, a walk in woods in April is a heart-filling joy, with the previously dull vegetation suddenly chucking a load of colour at us: white stitchwort, yellow celandines, pink cuckoo-flowers, purple orchids and, of course, bluebells.
|Bluebells at our Ranscombe Farm reserve.|
Pretty much all the woodlands of England and Wales have been exploited by people for many centuries, and this exploitation shaped the woodland we see today. Particularly important in this respect has been coppicing of trees - cutting them down and allowing them to regrow, before cutting them again, all on a cycle of 15 to 25 years. It is this practice which has encouraged the diverse flora of many woodlands through the alternation of period of bright light and deep shade. At Ranscombe Farm Reserve, we are continuing the long practice of coppicing precisely because it works so well for wild flowers.
Find out more about how Ranscombe Farm Reserve is managed as a farm and as a nature reserve on short, guided walks with our tenant farmer and the Reserve Warden, on Saturday 26 April. For more information go to our website.