NEWS

2 January 2017

NEW YEAR PLANT HUNT

Despite a keen wind on the ‘high tops’ and a couple of showers, we were joined by a dozen or more friends and visitors for a lovely walk around the Bayfield Estate, surprising ourselves by finding 43 species of wild plant in flower. This is not as good as last year but, given the recent hard frosts that had put paid to many blooms (we did not even find Herb Robert in flower), our  total was pretty respectable. We were helped by the presence of several children – not only keen and sharp-eyed, but also closer to the ground! As usual, the best areas were arable margins, where late-flowering annuals could still be found. Highlights included Flixweed, Sharp-leaved Fluellen and lots of Dwarf Spurge, all scarce arable weeds that would be good to find at the height of the season in August or September. We also found good numbers of Blue Fleabane in full flower on a temporary bank, a reflection of the chalk that lies close to the surface in many parts of the estate. The full list is as follows:

Common Gorse
Small Nettle
Sun Spurge
Petty Spurge
Dwarf Spurge

Dwarf Spurge

Dog’s Mercury
Field Pansy
Small-flowered Cranesbill
Common Mallow
Flixweed
Hedge Mustard
Black Mustard
Wild Raddish
Shepherd’s Purse
Red Campion
Thyme-leaved Sandwort
Common Chickweed
Common Mouse-ear
Corn Spurrey
Field Madder
Green Alkanet
Common Field Speedwell
Wall Speedwell
Sharp-leaved Fluellen
Ivy-leaved Toadflax
White Dead-nettle
Red Dead-nettle
Cut-leaved Dead-nettle
Musk Thistle
Dandelion
Smooth Sowthistle
Daisy
Blue Fleabane
Canadian Fleabane
Feverfew
Yarrow
Pineappleweed
Scentless Mayweed
Groundsel
Hogweed
Ivy
Annual Meadow Grass
Cock’s-foot

 

23rd November 2016

Lucinda and her slug

Lucinda and her slug

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Inspired by a summer of slugs! Our plantswoman-cum-potter Lucinda brought in her latest creation. Great work. It will be on view at Natural Surroundings for a few days and Lucinda will take commissions.

15th November 2016

 

Water voles at Natural Surroundings

Talking the water vole talk

 

 

Water vole breeding cages

Water vole residencies

Water vole release

They move really quickly

This week we are getting used to looking after a new mammal. Two pairs of captive bred water voles were installed in cages close to the meadow and will be part of a breeding programme at the wishes of the estate owner to re-populate the Bayfield New River.  There have been no water voles seen in this area and with the help and support of Derek Gow and his team we hope our water voles will breed next spring.   So far they are not very visible, preferring to hide up in the large straw bale in their cages.  We feed them apples, carrots, alfalfa and some fresh water-cress.

Read all about Derek Gow and water voles here  http://www.watervoles.com  and about the River Glaven and the new river here http://www.norfolkriverstrust.org/trust_project/glaven-bayfield-new-channel/

6th November 2016

On Sunday we hosted a clue for Radio Norfolk’s Treasure Quest.

Click Here to listen

and Here to see Sophie at the Chalet looking very pleased with herself.

We’re award winners! We’re proud to say that we’ve been awarded a 2016 Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor for consistently earning top ratings from our customers. Thanks to everyone who’s posted!  Read our reviews.

25th October 2016: Fungus Foray with Tony Leech

 

1 October 2016: Norfolk Plant Fair Competition Results

Quite a lot of people entered our quiz and had a go at identifying the fruits and seeds of native hedgerow plants. Surprisingly there were no completely correct entries. One person named nine so automatically won a prize. The second prize went to the first one out picked out of the hat of the seven entries that scored eight correct answers.

The answers were
1. Spindle
2. Wild Rose
3. Teasel
4. Hop
5. Wild Clematis (Old Man’s Beard and Traveller’s Joy were acceptable)
6. Hawthorn
7. Blackthorn
8. Common Buckthorn
9. Wild Carrot
10. Wayfaring Tree

The last three stumped most people, although many people knew that nine was a umbellifer and ten a Viburnum. The commonest mistake for number eight was Ivy.

2 January 2016

As part of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland’s New Year Plant Hunt we took a 3-hour walks from Natural Surroundings down to Glandford and back. We managed to find the  impressive total of 67 wild-growing plants in flower (and could have added a few more if we had hopped over a barbed wire fence into a nearby beet field!). Here are the 67 species recorded:

Common Poppy

Bulbous Buttercup

Creeping Buttercup

Meadowsweet

Creeping Cinquefoil

Wood Avens

Small Nettle

Pellitory of the Wall

Sun Spurge

Petty Spurge

Field Pansy

Hybrid pansy V. x contempta

Dovesfoot Cranesbill

Herb Robert

Flixweed

Hedge Mustard

Rape

Wild Radish

Swine Cress

Lesser Swine Cress

Field Pennycress

Shepherd’s Purse

Wavy Bittercress

Red Campion

White Campion

Common Chickweed

Scarlet Pimpernel

Green Alkanet

Black Nightshade

Common Field Speedwell

Germander Speedwell

Thyme-leaved Speedwell

Ivy-leaved Toadflax

White Dead-nettle

Red Dead-nettle

Black Horehound

Musk Thistle

Catsear

Dandelion

Smooth Hawksbeard

Bristly Oxtongue

Nipplewort

Smooth Sowthistle

Prickly Sowthistle

Daisy

Mexican Fleabane

Blue Fleabane

Canadian Fleabane

Feverfew

Yarrow

Scentless Mayweed

Pineappleweed

Common Ragwort

Groundsel

Winter Heliotrope

Red Valarian

Hogweed

Alexanders

Wild Angelica

Common Gorse

Cherry Plum

Bramble

Hazel

Ivy

Wild Oats

Cock’s-foot

Annual Meadow Grass

22 March 2015

Our new boardwalk across the meadows to the river bank has been started, and we have managed to build around 50 per cent of it, all the way from the overgrown ditch down to the river. From the Herb Garden you can see that it draws a beautiful curve across the meadow, much more attractive than the old ruler-straight walkway down to the river. We are now waiting on news from the Rivers Trust as to whether their digger can clear out the ditch before we start on the new bridge and the final stretch uphill towards the gardens. Watch this space!

February 2015

The café is now open again, complete with a fresh coat of paint and some insulation, making it even cosier! We are still working hard in the grounds, with improved plant sales area and re-designed tea gardens both hopefully ready for Easter. Another exciting development will be a new boardwalk across the wet meadows down to the river and hide. In the last couple of weeks a Little Egret has been regular along the rover, and up to three Barn Owls have been hunting over the meadows in the late afternoon.

January 2015

The café will be closed from Monday 19th to Friday 30th January 2015 for refurbishment. The shop will remain open for bulk bird food, and plants will still be available for sale, but if you have to travel any distance, it is best to phone or e-mail in advance to check that we will be on site (tel. 01263 711091, e-mail wildlife@naturalsurroundings.info).

6 December 2014

The widlife watching hide is now officially open, the ribbon having been cut by Dr Henry Crawley of the River Glaven Conservation Trust. Funded by the the Norfolk Rivers Trust and Norfolk 9 Chalk Rivers Project, it gives panoramic views over the Glaven Valley and will offer great opportunities to enjoy a variety of animals and birds at close range, One of the first sightings was a pair of smart Bullfinches. Access is only possible during opening hours (10.00am to 4.00pm).

8 November 2014

The gardens and grounds are currently being refurbished and improved. The oldest of our three polytunnels (the one that was erected by Anne over 20 years ago!) has been divided in two, with one half covered by shade netting and the other with new polythene. This should allow us to grow a wider range of plants and keep them in better condition. We hope that both of these ‘new’ polytunnels will soon be open to the public.

A fabulous new hide has been built on the banks of the River Glaven (funded by the Norfolk Rivers Trust). We still have some work to do, but this gives great views along the river and over the wet fields, as well as across the valley where the ground rises sharply to the woods. It will be a great place to sit and relax, and perhaps see an Otter or Water Vole!?

September 2014

Anne & Simon Harrap have, as of mid September 2014, taken over as the new owners of Natural Surroundings. A big thank you to Andrew Cannon for all his hard work in getting NS back on its feet over the last four years, and we wish him well in his ‘retirement’.

Natural Surroundings will be open as usual over the winter, Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am to 4pm. There will be the same great café and shop, plants sales (with bulbs and bare root trees and shrubs being especially seasonal), and the gardens and grounds should be aglow with autumnal colour and perhaps a bit of frost and snow.