Saturday, 28 June 2014

Bath Nats 18th May 2014

Tree Gazing Trail, Royal Victoria Park,
Led by Alan Rayner and Kate Souter

Amazing trees and their natural history found near the centre of the city of Bath were explored with reference to ‘The Tree Gazing Trail’ developed by the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI) in partnership with Mark Cassidy, BNES Arboricultural Officer.  Beginning at the gravel walk, at the eastern end of Royal Victoria Park, the trail identifies 20 trees along a route which includes the Botanical Gardens found on the North Western side of the park.  As well as learning about the unique stories of the trees; the walk gives a chance to encounter a range of flora and fauna along the way.  

Included on our walk were native species, eg copper beech (Fagus sylvatica purpurea); species originally from  Europe, eg London plane (Platanus x hispanica); a ‘living fossil’, maidenhair tree (Gingko biloba) with divided leaves; and a deciduous conifer once thought to be extinct, dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). A notable discovery was the richness of the epiphytic communities on both copper beech and London plane trees.  With the aid of hand-lenses, these communities were found to include a surprising array of mosses and lichens.  These included plait-moss, Hypnum cupressiforme, green yoke-moss, Zygodon viridissimus and Physcia adscendens, a grey lichen.

Birdsong accompanied the walk. Taking time for just a few minutes of stillness, blackbird, wren and blackcap song could be heard.  Wildflowers flourishing in shady places under the tree canopy included the bulbous buttercup.

In summary, a fascinating morning spent looking at a diverse range of trees in late spring; at a distance and close-up.

Kate Souter 

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