So far this winter appears to have been even colder than last year. On the Common
there are few signs of spring. We have yet to see any hazel catkins fully out though
the catkins on the alders are already partly elongated.
Along the concrete road the sun was lighting up a hedge maple tree whose branches
are covered with yellow and grey lichens. A lichen is made up of an intimate mix
of an alga and a fungus, each contributing something to the other. There are many
different species with complicated forms which usually need a specialist to put names
to them. Most grow slowly, about 1mm a year, and take several years to become obvious.
They are very sensitive to pollution, particularly sulphur dioxide, and became scarce
over much of Britain except the west. Since passing of successive Clean Air Acts
lichens have reappeared. So abundant lichens are an indication of cleaner air and
they don’t do any harm to trees.
At the winter work party on the 23rd of January nearly 200 hedging whips were planted
on the southern boundary of Middle Common and 40 gorse plants, all to provide more
habitat for wildlife. The gorse plants from beside the car park on East Common were
removed ahead of the renovation work and replanted elsewhere on the Common. Hopefully
they will survive and grow on. As soon as the work on the car park is complete, fresh
gorse plants will be planted between the bollards.
The Chilterns, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - website:
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