Saturday, 19 March 2011

Wild Daffodils in the Golden Triangle

Wild Daffodils, Narcissus pseudonarcissus
The British native wild Daffodil was once a common and widely-distributed plant in (especially) western England and southern Scotland, but increasing intensification of agriculture made it progressively scarcer. By the early Twentieth Century it had become a rare plant in many parts of its former range, but it remained extremely abundant in north-western Gloucestershire and the adjacent parts of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. This is a fertile, gentle countryside, well watered, and wild Daffodils were incredibly abundant in the woods and pastures. It became known as the Golden Triangle, and special excursion trains were run at flowering time to bring people to see - and pick - the flowers. After the War, however, 'improvements' to the fields and modern agricultural practice all but eradicated the Daffodils from their meadow habitat, leaving them confined to woodlands and hedgerows.

As such, they have become a subject of conservation concern, and the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has undertaken a study of their distribution and potential threats. This extremely interesting document can be read here. As the County Flower, the wild Daffodil's survival and presence is a matter of local pride, and each year the villages in the Golden Triangle organize daffodil events, which are currently ongoing. Further information is available from the SoGlos website (although they illustrate the events with a picture of an orange-trumpeted garden hybrid!).

The Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust focuses its daffodil conservation activities on two sites. The Betty Dawes Wood, owned by the Forestry Commission but managed by GWT, is an oak-hazel coppice, with a patchwork of areas coppiced at different times, so there are daffodils growing in rather shaded to open sites, with the inevitable differences in vigour and flower production. The Gwen and Vera's Fields Nature Reserve, comprising two adjacent, tiny old orchards, on the other hand demonstrate how the old meadows used to look - a mass of flowers. But wild Daffodils are not rare in the Golden Triangle - just much reduced. Every bit of woodland, and mile after mile of hedges and ditches, has them in abundance, a truly glorious sight.

Wild Daffodils in coppiced woodland, Betty Dawes Wood
 
Active management in Betty Dawes wood benefits
the Daffodils: the oaks aren't bad either.
 
Field edges and hedgebanks are a refuge for the daffodils.
 
Daffodils in a roadside ditch: in this situation the clumps become quite large.


Wild Daffodils in Gwen and Vera's Fields Nature Reserve.

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful heart-lifting post - thank you for it. We have nothing like that round here, only a few by the roadside which have been probably thrown there as garden rubbish by irresponsible people.

    After the war (and before and during it) there were many people who were hungry - it was imperative that we grew as much food as we could. I still now grieve for the wonderful meadows, full of herbage, which have vanished for ever - thus your pictures and information are very welcome.

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