Killers in the mire

If you bring children to the New Forest chances are they will be fascinated if you show them the carnivorous plants that grow in the valley mires (bogs).

Drosera rotundifolia
Drosera rotundifolia

Most photos of  Sundew show them up close and you might be encouraged to expect them to be chunky things as big as a cabbage and dangerous to small dogs and children…they aren’t, they are quite small just a few inches across the whole plant. Once you get your eye in you’ll see Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) in most of the wet boggy places.

Look closely and you easily see the sticky droplets on the leaf hairs that adhere to insects careless enough to land on one of the ‘leaves’. Look even closer at a mature leaf and you see the remnants of a meal with all the nutrients sucked out. The early Spring means the Sundews are already well developed (they die down during Winter). If the mires stay wet you can expect Sundew to thrive and get relatively large, they should flower well too. Around Furzehill you’ll mostly see the round leaved sundew as in the photo but in other parts of the New Forest there is the long leaved sundew and an intermediate form.

What IS that?

Every year a round this time I get asked the same question, ‘what are those things that stick up appearing in all the hedgerows?’Cuckoo Pint I know exactly what they mean, it’s a plant called ‘Cuckoo Pint’ and it has dozens of other names depending where you are in the country. The latin name is Arum maculatum.

The leaves appear in the depths of the Winter, they look tender and vulnerable but seem to take the harshest weather in their stride. Then, around the end of April up pops the spadix with it’s hood neatly showcasing it. The actual flowers are tiny and deep inside the closed up area below the spadix. Pollination is by insects, mostly flies attracted by the smell and warmth generated by the spadix.

In the Autumn you’ll see the fruits, clusters of bright red berries – don’t touch as they can cause allergic reactions.

Afternoon illumination

The geographical alignment of our valley seems to give rise to very special evening light under certain circumstances, especially in Spring and Autumn. Usually after a spell of rain when the sky clears locally with passed dark clouds to the East and some cloud remains out to the West we get a show of what we call ‘green light’. As the sun gets close to setting it seems to sneak a strong burst of light horizontally under the distant cloud to bathe us in a flood of ‘golden hour’ light. All the trees and bracken clad hillsides turn a striking, rich orangey colour so intense that photos of the phenomenon look to have been overly photo-shopped and unreal. Those lucky enough to experience this occasional light show find it uplifting and exciting – I think we all tend to respond favourably to ‘warm’ light. I was prompted to write this little item because a couple of days ago this occurred and it coincided with the flowering of the wild Cherry trees at the top of the CL – those on the site were able to enjoy this brief bit of local drama.

I recently found this quote from Gilpin that shows the New Forest seems to specialise in this seasonal delight:

“But the effect of light is best seen in an evening storm, when it rises from the east, behind the woody bank; while the sun sinking in the west, throws a splendour upon the trees, which seen to such advantage against the darkness of the hemisphere, shows the full effect of light and shade.”
(William Gilpin, 1791

If you enjoy photography…

Furzehill Farm CL is a great base for keen photographers whatever their favourite subjects.

Close by are the Blashford lakes famous for waterfowl and other bird life. The coast is just a few miles away and the CL is surrounded by photogenic landscape. The Forest animals (Cows, Ponies and Donkeys) are always happy to pose for the camera. Even moody days can be full of opportunity – in an April morning fog I found these shots: Furzehill in the Fog

Birches on Gorley Common
Birches on Gorley Common

The bookings have started

Christmas is gone and the bookings have started to come in. It makes sense to book early if you are looking for School holiday or bank holidays. We also find that the weekend of Bygone days at Brooklands farm get booked very early…but the date is unconfirmed as yet, usually mid August.

We have had to increase our fee from £10 to £12 which keeps us in line with other similar sites. Costs of power, insurance and rubbish disposal have gone up considerably and so we have little option but to increase site fees.

Under the Greenwood.

Fancy seeing some classic works of art on a tree theme?

Nothing is more evocative of Britain than a great tree.Under the Greenwood The oak has become a symbol of our national character and individually or collectively trees are an integral part of our landscape. Under the Greenwood examines how artists from John Constable and Samuel Palmer to Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland have been inspired by these most remarkable of living things.

The exhibition examines how trees have gradually been domesticated from the forbidding wildwood to the town garden. It explores mythology and religious symbolism, the longevity of trees and the seasonal cycle, and how man has exploited them for timber, food and fuel. The exhibition also features work by Paul Sandby, John Martin, Heywood Sumner, George Clausen, Charles Ginner, Claire Leighton, John Nash, Robin Tanner and Henry Moore among others and it will be a nationally important celebration of the tree.

at The St Barbe Museum, Lymington

Exhibition produced in partnership with Southampton City Art Gallery.

27th Jul 2013 – 5th Oct 2013: Under the Greenwood: Picturing British Trees – Past

The New Forest at it’s best

The New Forest is lovely in the Spring and Summer but the Autumn is it’s peak 2011-11-01_12-39-20_HDRfor stunning landscape and walking comfort. Autumn comes late in the New Forest, the Oak and Beech leaves start to colour in mid October and are often at their best around Guy Fawkes night.

Now that we have EHU’s why not come for a late visit and revel in the peace and quiet of all that makes Autumn so special here. The valley mists, the fading Heather blossom, clear skies and the rusty brown colours of the leaves about to fall and carpet the Forest floor.

Our CL is open all year round