Saturday, 30 December 2017

Colour in December

Things are not as monochrome as you might imagine in winter.  

The bright green fronds of harts tongue fern are prolific where the soil is slightly alkaline.

The fluffy seed heads of Old Man's Beard, the wild clematis, 
are draped over bushes and trees. 

 On old dead elder wood there are the deep red fruiting bodies of Jelly Ear Fungus.

What sight is more refreshing than the silver-white bark of birches against a blue winter sky?

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Snow on the hills

From the Filnore Woods viewpoint yesterday, I could see snow on the Cotswolds.

But actually there was a fair bit in Filnore Woods too.

The benches looked a bit cold for sitting.

Walking on I found this fat, sticky bud on a horse chestnut sapling, full of spring promise. 

The resin on the outside of the bud scales helps to protect the new leaves inside from the cold.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Filnore fungi 3 - on stump ends

Many fungi live on dead wood, often on the cut ends of logs and stumps.  Here are four common ones:

Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum
 Photo: Simon Harding

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor OR Coriolus versicolor
with concentric bands of colour.
Photo: Simon Harding

Chondrostereum purpureum starts off beige

 Then goes purply
Photo: Simon Harding

And eventually changes from being resupinate (flat on the wood) to a curly bracket.

And lastly some Jelly Ear on the end of a log.  It used to be called Jew's Ear, reflected in the scientific name Auricularia auricula-judae, because it occurs most frequently on Elder, which was one of the trees reputed to have been the one Judas Iscariot hanged himself from.  


It is soft and slightly furry, which does make it feel a bit like a human ear.  Put one in a feely bag and fool your friends!

And another couple of Jelly Ears on a dead Elder branch.

Photo: Simon Harding

Monday, 4 December 2017

Fire damage

We don't mean to spoil the fun of lighting small fires at Filnore.  We even enjoy the odd bonfire ourselves.  But these photos show the result of lighting fires near trees.

When the fire was first lit about three years ago, the damage was hard to see.  

A year later dead bark was clearly visible

See the difference from 2015 to 2017 on another tree nearby

2015                               2017

Please don't light fires near or under trees.  Not only can it damage branches and foliage, and scorch the bark, but the unseen damage to roots can have an even worse effect on trees. 

Friday, 1 December 2017

Filnore fungi 2 - little tufts

Some fungi show up as quite small tufts. Here are three different coloured examples found recently at Filnore by Simon, our mycologist.

Small Stagshorn (Calocera cornea)

Grey Coral (Clavulina cinerea)

Candle Snuff (Xylaria hypoxylon).  
This one is the easiest to spot as it is white and quite common, growing on dead wood.  It often comes in when other wood rotting fungi have finished with the wood and turns what remains into a crumbly mess ready for insects and other small creatures to feast on.  So a valuable contributor to recycling nutrients.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Filnore Fungi 1

Before the frosts become severe there is still time to find fungi at Filnore

This little crop of common puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum)
was in the old tree nursery between posts 13 and 14.  Look at the warty texture.

Scientific names derived from Latin are off-putting to many people but this one is quite amusing;  'perlatum' means 'pearly' and probaly refers to the little pimples.  'Lycoperdon', according to the excellent 'FirstNature' website, means 'Wolf's flatulence'.  

And while we were coppicing earlier in the month one of the volunteers noticed these little blue-green beauties, called Blue Roundhead (Stropharia caerulea).
[The little brown one at the top of the photo is a different species 
called Conical Brittlestem (Parasola conopilus)]

Ten days later the one remaining example had flattened out a bit, with a little lump in the centre.

Another three days and it was quite flat and losing its colour.

More fungi to come.  Simon Harding, our fungus expert has sent me several images of fungi found at Filnore so look out for more in future posts.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

nine beech trees

On the far side of the cowshed field at Filnore, there are nine young beech trees planted about ten years ago.  We have had to rescue them from enveloping brambles several times already.  

Eventually they will provide such dense shade that the tables will be turned and the brambles will be overpowered themselves.  

The above photo was obviously taken in the green green summer.

Not so easy to spot them on a gloomy winter's day.  They only just show up with their rusty brown leaves against a a dark background.

Young beech trees retain their leaves through the winter and only drop them when the new leaves burst out of the buds in spring.

Friday, 10 November 2017


We have sometimes been asked why we bother to restore parts of the hedgerow on the Filnore Woods boundary. 

Laid two years ago 

 A recent article in the Woodland Trust's internet magazine 'Woodwise' concerns trees outside woods and makes a particular reference to hedgerows: 

'Poor management is also a cause for concern, particularly with relation to hedgerows, which are a valuable wildlife resource. For hedgerows to have ‘favourable condition’, gaps must be kept to 10% or less of the total length (or per 30m section); they must be trimmed regularly to prevent conversion to scrub and trees; and non-native species must be controlled. Historical declines in hedgerows mean that proper management, restoration and creation of new hedgerows is vitally important.' 

Laid last year

 Where we coppiced the next section of hedge this year a host of formerly dormant bluebell bulbs threw up flowers.

New shoots were already appearing on the hazel stools in May.

And on the hawthorn stools

and on the Field Maple

And now, in November, re-growth on the coppiced stools, and the new plants we put in, are doing well

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Autumn colours

Red bryony berries hang blatantly on bushes where their creeping stems climbed unobtrusively during summer

Yellow aspen leaves stand out against the dark, misty woods

Beige rosebay stems with  beech leaves turning yellow behind

Green leaves tinted red on guelder rose bushes, where the scarlet berries still hang

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Flowers for All Saints Day

Even on a wet November day I found a dozen wild flowers at Filnore Woods

The last of the red clover

 Bramble, probably too late to set fruit

Tufted vetch with a tendril at the end of each leaf

Herb Robert - look at the seedpods

 Creeping thistle, defended by those spiny leaves

 Something from the dandelion tribe - maybe a Catsear

 Ragwort - we didn't pull all of it up, it seems
Ivy flowers (yellow) just turning into berries (green) 
which will later turn black

 Rather faded Yarrow

 White deadnettle

Hogweed is one of my favourites although it is a bit invasive
I like the Y-shaped petals on the outside of each flower cluster, - like rabbit's ears
But as it produces all these seeds, it grows everywhere
It's so well designed, so that every little flower gets the maximum sunlight.  And incidentally this elegant and statuesque structure is the result.

And this green stuff, which later becomes brown and stiff, as you can see in the background, is the flower head of dock.
Yes those really are flowers.