Six years since the group last paid a visit, we set off to the Yorkshire Arboretum at Castle Howard on a fine but blustery day with one or two spare seats in the minibus.
The Arboretum is managed in partnership with Kew and is relatively new, less than 40 years old, but nevertheless contains a splendid collection of 6000 trees from all parts of the world, many of which were resplendent in their autumn tints.
There are two mapped trails through the arboretum and we set off as a group to follow the longer one. Very soon the debate over the difference between Quercus robur and Quercus petraea (English and sessile oak) carried on from where we left off in 2012 and as not everyone wished to participate in the discussion the group started to split up and remained so for the rest of the day, members wandering around to find trees of their own particular interest or simply to enjoy a walk in fine early autumn weather. As each tree has a label with its scientific as well as English name most trees can be eventually identified when the label is located. (N.B. Searching for the labels would be a great way to occupy children!).
Without any of our specialist mycologists being present we didn’t specifically look for fungi but did encounter quite a few different species without being to identify some of them. Birdlife was not too plentiful but Donald did record 17 species including three buzzards and the warmth of the afternoon brought out five species of butterfly – speckled wood, red admiral, small copper, comma and a white as well as a common dater dragonfly. Although Alice was not recording with her usual voracity she nevertheless noted water mint, jointed rush and bogbean at the Sata pond and 18 other plant species in flower in the more open areas while Gillian and Margaret reported seeing Autumn crocus.
An enjoyable day was rounded off by some members enjoying an alfresco drink at the cafe and many were tempted by the variety of Spring-flowering bulbs on sale at the visitors’ centre.
Many thanks to Alice and Sally for leading the day and to Kevin who did the bulk of the driving.