Well actually it didn’t rain very much at all in April, it was very much needed but never materialised apart from a few short spells of drizzle; we desperately need the rain for the young trees we planted this winter.
Most of April was set aside to finish off clearing up after Storm Doris- there were some rather large trees that had fallen onto the arable land which were making it difficult for the tenant farmers to carry out their spraying and fertilising. Just as well we had the Igland six ton winch (boy that really saves a lot of manual work) and some of the horse chestnut tree trunks were dragged into the woods and left for the wildlife as the timber is of no commercial value, others like oak were taken back to the Woodyard.
It was also a time to finish off the rest of the tree surgery work especially the gigantic London plane trees by the lakes which apparently Capability Brown had planted. The species were formed by hybridization in the 17th century after P. orientalis and P. occidentalis had been planted in proximity to one another. It is often claimed that the hybridisation took place in Spain, but it could also have happened in Vauxhall Gardens in London where John Tradescant the Younger discovered the tree in the mid-17th century. The leaf and flower characteristics are intermediate between the two parent species, the leaf being more deeply lobed than P. occidentalis but less so than P. orientalis, and the seed balls typically two per stem (one in P. occidentalis, 3-6 in P. orientalis). The hybrid is fertile, and seedlings are occasionally found near mature trees. These trees grow to 40m high mostly but can in some circumstances grow taller, they are also very tolerant of air pollution hence why they are popular in London.
At about 40m in height the trees we were up gave us some tremendous views of the parkland around the lakes, a few of the views are below.
April was the month when the wild flowers started to bloom in earnest: lesser celandine, red and white dead nettles, cuckoo flowers, fritillary, cherry blossom and much more abounded around the estate.
With good weather there was time to have a general clear up of timber and wood, some of the wood we used for the charcoal kiln as we needed the charcoal for the estate forge. The oak timber was split asunder to make fencing posts for May’s upcoming work and some was sawn into planks to help make a number of planned bridges.
Well it’s ok to fell and use oak trees but we do need to plant some more on the estate. In fact last autumn we planted about a thousand acorns from veteran oak trees in the Park. They didn’t actually do very much all winter but, as the weather warmed up, little red shoots appeared along with some delicate red leaves- absolutely amazing watching the acorns spring to life.
Guess the egg? Found all alone on the lake edge, I wonder if we had disturbed a thief!