It’s been a tough start to the year, and what feels like a very, very long winter. A walk in the woods today reminded me that despite everything that has been thrown at them so far this year, the trees have been very resilient.
We have had extremes of temperature, high winds and excessive rain followed by dry, and the woods here on Dartmoor have taken it all in their stride. We have lost a few over the winter, notably the Sweet Chestnut that we were following last year. The shear bomb finally did its work in the last lot of high winds and the stem failed at the fracture.
November 2017 May 2018
The apprentices were using a soil probe to record pH, moisture and light levels in both sets of woodland, and at the end of the week, wrote up their results.
So what is this strange tree?
It appears to have three different types of flower on it!
Its scientific name is + Laburnocytisus adamii and it is a peculiar thing called a Chimaera or graft hybrid. It is an accident of horticultural practice, a purple flowering broom was grafted on to a laburnum stem, but the shoots at the graft contained the cell lines of both species. What we have here at Buckfast Abbey, is a core of laburnum with a sheath of purple broom cells around the outside. So we end up with some laburnum branches and flowers, some broom branches and flowers and some that are intermediate.
Chimaeras are not common occurrences, and specimens like this are not easy to come by!
For those who don’t already know, we have had to say goodbye to Willow.
She was my constant companion and a permanent feature in all of my lessons. I know she has touched many hearts over the 10 + years that she has been teaching with me.