The Diocese of York, led by the Archbishop of York, is celebrating 2011 as the Year of the Environment. To start the year with a chirp,
a bird nesting box has already been sent to every church and church school in the Diocese.
As part of celebrating the Year of the Environment, I will be writing about the flora and fauna within the Bishopthorpe Palace Grounds for each season. 'Spring' at Bishopthorpe Gardens follows.....
At this time of the year the grounds are a carpet of colour with a show of bulbs that includes scillas, snowdrops and wood aconites. Trees are in bud and thousands of daffodils are on the move, heading for a spectacular Spring show.
Now that Winter has released its grip on the garden, work has begun on pruning and transplanting shrubs, lifting and dividing herbaceous plants. These plants will be used to create a new border on the River Terrace.
Varieties of Alder and Willow trees will be planted in an area known as 'The Dell' where the ground is damp all year round. Other trees such as Copper and Common Beech, Scarlet and Common Oak will be planted in the woodland as part of our ongoing woodland management.
The woods in the grounds of Bishopthorpe are home to a large number of insects, butterflies and moths and everything that feeds on them including nuthatch, siskin, finches, great spotted woodpeckers and pipistrelle bats. Roe deer, red fox, and stoat also roam freely in the woods.
A dozen nest boxes have been set up for robins, blue and great tits, tawny owls and tree creepers. Log piles have been made from dead and wind-damaged tree limbs. These log piles have created another habitat for hedgehogs and small mammals.
A further habitat is 'Warren Pond'; home to coots and moorhens, swans, many types of
insect and even the odd daubentons bat.
The River Ouse forms a natural boundary to the south east side of the garden where 400 meters of Snowberry and Willow are to be pruned, keeping the riverbank open for kingfishers, great crested grebes and a rare visitor to Bishopthorpe grounds - the otter. This Spring we are planning to plant tansy - the favourite food of the Tansy Beetle (Chrysolina graminis) from which it takes its name.
A lot of hard work is being done in York where the banks of the River Ouse are the only place in the UK where the endangered beetle is found. For more
information on this iridescent green species of beetle, visit Natural England.
I'll be keeping you updated on the grounds throughout the year so please revisit for 'Summer' in a few months time.... Garry
The grounds of Bishopthorpe Palace are not open to the public except for open days, retreats, receptions, fetes or as part of pre-booked tours. Enquiries as to hiring meeting rooms in the Palace or enquiries relating to functions should be directed to the Palace Manager