Saturday, March 11, 2006

To Red Barn Nature Reserve

Colder. A wind from the north under grey skies with fitful sun. I walked southwards to the Red Barn Field Local Nature Reserve where I was caught in a stinging shower of sleet. We have skimmed the turf from a small area by the east hedge in the reserve to see if we can bring up the sub-soil seed bank. Currently there is a good selection of young weeds, but there are also hundreds of gorse seedlings showing, perhaps, how quickly fields would have become furze thickets in the past.

There are a few celandines out now and I found several garden escapes along the path: early crocus Crocus tommasinianus, wild cyclamen Cyclamen hederifolium, sweet violet Viola odorata. The latter had two almost open buds of darkest purple. I was pleased to see this plant as we seem to have lost the colony that grew up the lane on the edge of Killingan Wood. It is normally a species of chalk and limestone and not native on our acid soil, but it flourishes here and there in hedge bottoms and is the first of the violets to flower.

I also gathered some mosses and lichen: always a good fall back when the cold holds everything back and will see if I can work out what they are this evening.

The Red Barn Field Nature Reserve is, by the way, open to all during the daylight hours and can be approached from the Sedlescombe Village Hall car park or from Balcombe Green. The map reference of the reserve is TQ780183.

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