Monday, 30 January 2012

Thunderbolt 'explodes' redwood tree at Sheffield Park and Garden

Sequoiadendron giganteum one of three species of coniferous trees known as redwoods, classified in the family Cupressaceae in the subfamily Sequoioideae. At Sheffield Park and Garden we have a few of these across the garden mainly situated in the Big Tree walk.

Unfortunately at approximately 8pm on 25 Jan 2012 we encountered a freak storm which lasted about 5-10 minutes but produced a fork of lighting which struck one of our 125 year old Sequoiadendrons in the garden. The tree that used to stand at 26-27 meters tall was our second tallest tree in the garden.

The lightning caused it to explode, the main branches that formed the crown blew off. The trunk shattered and splintered with 7m lengths hitting the ground,  with some actually became impaled in the earth. The standing trunk is ripped and torn, the heart wood exposed. The site is devastated and strewn with timber.

We have left the tree as it appeared the next day, just clearing the path and fencing off. It is perfectly safe to view from the path but please do not go into the fenced off area. 

It is a great example of the power of nature, the worlds largest living thing (by volume) tried in vain to resist mother nature's full force. It is well worth looking at and is located within Big Tree walk which is clearly marked on a map available from the reception team.

We will remove the tree and tidy up in a few weeks time making sure we recycle as much of the timber as possible.

Photos taken by Josh Street, Gardener estate work, and the devastation was discovered by Alan Bradford Gardener.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Boost for Box Hill wildlife and Olympic fans

Rare wildlife has a better chance to thrive thanks to scrub clearance at Box Hill in Surrey. The work will also allow many more cycling fans to watch the Olympic road races in July.

The hill is home to many endangered species that only live on chalk grassland. These species are protected nationally and internationally.

Now a detailed wildlife survey, funded by The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has confirmed that we can safely remove some areas of scrub, creating more grassland where these species can flourish.

We have worked with LOCOG and the government’s wildlife and landscape advisers, Natural England, to create a balance between protecting wildlife and promoting enjoyment of top level international sport. 
It is hoped the work will make room for up to 15,000 spectators to watch the world’s best cyclists tackle Box Hill’s Zig-Zag Road, which is widely regarded as the most challenging part of the Olympic race route.

Andy Wright, our countryside manager for Box Hill said: 'It’s great news that so many people will be able to enjoy the races in this wonderful natural setting. Since traditional farming ceased in the 1930s, woodland has been encroaching onto the grassland at Box Hill and we’ve been battling to keep it back.

The surveys conducted by LOCOG are the most thorough ever carried out on this site and they have really helped us understand the best way to manage the habitat for the long term. The scrub alongside the road has very few species living in it so when we remove it, it doesn’t matter if people walk in those areas.

Gradually, over the years, that land will turn back into chalk grassland which is a much richer habitat – supporting around 60 to 100 species of plants, animals and insects per square metre.'

Find out more information on the work happening at Box Hill.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Happy New Year from the London and South East team

So 2012 is upon us! If you're resolving to try something new this year, we'd love to help you.

There's plenty of opportunity for getting outside and closer to nature, with many of our places open all year for wintry walks, or jogging for those trying to get fit. You can find a place near you on our main website here.

We're running a range of events at our properties too, from guided walks to countryside workouts and art workshops. You can search for an event near you here.