Twelve members of the group set off from the Unitarian church in Bradford on this cold, winter morning to head east for our visit to Burton Agnes gardens. It was a long two hour drive however we were in the safe hands of Kevin and Sue.
Burton Agnes Hall was commissioned by Sir Henry Griffith, Queen Elizabeth's master mason in 1598. Our purpose was to visit the gardens and complete a lovely woodland walk (the option of making purchases of plants was also on offer).
The snowdrops in the woodland formed a magnificent white carpet. The species was exclusively Galanthus nivalis. According to Richard Mabey in Flora Britanica most colonies began as garden escapes and may not be native. They are often linked with ecclesiastical buildings such as churches and abbeys, deserted cottages and riversides. They reproduce almost exclusively by division of the bulbs rather than by seed.
The other woodland plant of interest was butcher's broom, Ruscus aculeatus which is a member of the lily family and grows in clumps around the base of trees. It has spiny leaves which are flattened stems, also tiny flowers as well as red berries. There was ample evidence from the presence of leaves that there was a rich ground flora. However only a few common plants were in flower including daisy, common speedwell and common chickweed.
The birds seen by our eagle eyed companions included red kite, buzzard, kestrel, red legged partridge, rooks (carrying nesting material), goldcrest, tree creeper, all the tits and the ubiquitous robin. Sue was able to view two groups of hares, seven in total, enjoying playful activities in an adjoining field.
Also explored by group members were the Norman manor house and walled garden with it's maze and jungle. We enjoyed some warmth when the sun appeared but otherwise we experienced icy cold blasts of wind but thankfully no rain. This was our first visit to Burton Agnes and was enjoyed I think by all (with one exception). Thank you Alice for making the arrangements for our visit.
See the photos here.