Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Hollybush Wood !

A  recent visit to a country house and estate at Standen in West Sussex, an estate looked after by the National Trust, gave my wife and I the opportunity to wander through Hollybush Wood, as part of our visit.

What I didn't realise at the time, is the fact that this small area of wood is a unique habitat, an ancient "Ghyll woodland" and a relic of Holmwood one of Sussex's ancient forests.

'Ghyll' is a term I have not come across before, the actual word originates from Old Norse, gil.
probably a name more familiar in the north of the country.

It's basically a term given to native woodlands found on steep sided valleys or ravines, usually around the upper reaches of rivers where springs or streams first form.

The steep sided nature of Ghyll’s also ensures that many Ghyll woodlands have remained untouched and undisturbed by human activity.

They are reported to have their own microclimate, rich in moisture loving plants and very attractive to wildlife.

This particular wood has an attractive boardwalk which leads you down into the valley and through the woodland. The woodland floor on the upper reaches of the valley, like many woods at the moment were cloaked in Bluebells, but on closer inspection there was a another wild flower growing amongst the bluebells, the Early Purple Orchid, and in good numbers, this is one of the earliest flowering Orchids, flowering between April and June, a pleasant surprise I was not expecting.

Early Purple Orchid

Orange Tip and Brimstone Butterflies were seen all around the woodland.

I managed to find a few examples last year at Denge Woods in Kent, but nowhere near as prolific as this site. I wished that I had taken more time to study the woodland, another visit may be on the cards for later this year.

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