Sunday, 24 April 2016

Spring at Temple Newsam

A glorious sunny day last week took me across to Temple Newsam (VC64), mainly for the walk but also to see if I could spot anything not noticed previously - including any late spring daffodils.

The first good find of the day was a few plants of Spotted Medick (Medicago arabica). A new hectad record for the BSBI Atlas 2020 project. The low spring sunshine prevented me taking a decent photograph, as it did with the normally photogenic Marsh-marigold (Caltha palustris). The latter, while still widespread, is now much diminished as a result of the drainage of its wet habitats, so it was good to find a new site.

The planted Juneberry (Amelanchier lamarckii) near the golf course was looking great, with its coppery new foliage and pristine white blossom.

By the Menagerie Ponds, a few distant pearls of white on the opposite bank caught my eye. Further investigation revealed a naturalised colony of Summer Snowflake (Leucojum aestivum subsp. aestivum). These were probably introduced when the Estate was in its heyday, but now they are in an unmanaged area sandwiched between open water and dense stands of Rhododendron cultivars.

Another relict from the old Estate was found in the unmanaged woodland along The Old Walk. Here were some fine old bushes of a shrub that gave me pause for thought, as it was clearly a Skimmia but not the species favoured today i.e. Japanese Skimmia (Skimmia japonica). Further research led me to Hybrid Skimmia (Skimmia x confusa). The blossom was very fragrant and attracting plenty of bees. While this species is clearly of planted origin, its setting meant that it was a legitimate target for recording in accordance with BSBI Recording Guidance.

Elsewhere I found two naturalised colonies of Siberian Squill (Scilla sibirica) in areas of rough grassland with a range of native flora. This species does not appear to have been recorded here previously, so this was another useful record for the Atlas.

So on to the daffodils! There was a fine stand of Pheasant's-eye Daffodil (Narcissus poeticus) in an area of woodland (photo below) and among it a few plants of its hybrid - Primrose-peerless (Narcissus x medioluteus). The latter was present as the old fashioned plant, and not one of the modern cultivars that are widely planted on road verges (such as 'Geranium', which I passed on route to Temple Newsam at Swillington Bridge, and its double-flowered sister 'Cheerfulness').

On the woodland edge I was surprised to find a clump of Cyclamen-flowered Daffodil (Narcissus cyclamineus), this may have been planted more recently but as it was clearly going over there may have been other plants in the wood that I missed.

To round off the day there was one more daffodil on the way home, where I found a fine naturalised stand of the multi-headed (or at least normally multi-headed, it can be single-headed) Campernelle Daffodil (Narcissus x odorus - Narcissus jonquilla x pseudonarcissus agg.) on a rural road verge at Leventhorpe. 

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