Copyright © All rights reserved. Blofield & District Conservation Group
Size: 0.2 ha (0.5 acres).
Owned by: Broadland District Council.
Access & Parking: Private. Access by prior arrangement or during BADCOG work-parties. If visiting by car, take care not to obstruct the narrow lane which is used frequently by other vehicles including farm machinery. There is a small parking space in front of the gate.
Habitats: Woodland garden, pond, hedgerow.
Main conservation interest: Winter/early spring ground flora, woodland pond, wych elms.
Conservation status: None.
Management: Managed by BADCOG since 1985 in collaboration with B.D.C.
Location: Snowdrop Acre is a small woodland garden west of Brundall.
In 1985 BADCOG began the management of this site by removing encroaching scrub and tall vigorous herbaceous vegetation. A large debris-pile, made up from the cleared material, now provides a habitat for invertebrates and small mammals, perhaps including the bank voles which have been seen on the site. The garden still contains a range of interesting ornamental trees, shrubs and flowering plants, including oso berry Osmaronia cerasiformis from western North America, the climber Akebia quinata from China and Japan, and Hydrangea aspera from the Himalay and southeast Asia. A mature Indian horse chestnut Aesculus indica grows in the hedgerow next to the gate.
The garden's exotic trees and shrubs are interspersed among native species which have been augmented by recent plantings. A wide range has been used, with hazel, holly, and oak predominant. Selective felling of sycamore, grey poplar and Douglas fir has been undertaken to prevent excessive shading of the winter/early spring ground flora, and to allow space for the growth and development of preferred tree species. Two mature wych elms are a notable feature of the garden. Further interest is added by a shaded, semi-permanent woodland pond which dries out periodically. Whether or not it is man-made and how long it has existed isn't known, but nonetheless it forms a distinctive and valued feature of the old garden.
Rather than attempt to revert the site back to semi-natural woodland, the management aim is to retain the garden's ornamental character, in keeping with its recent history. The garden will be restored and enhanced, maintaining its woodland framework interspersed with exotic plants. In addition to retaining ornamental garden plants, several native woodland species have been recently introduced, including bugle and woodruff. As the recent plantings of trees and shrubs become established, selective coppicing or pollarding will be implemented to maintain the site's open character, and prevent excessive shading of the ground flora. The boundary hedge also requires ongoing management and will be coppiced periodically.
When to visit: To see the garden at its best, visit in mid-late winter and early spring to see the distinctive ground flora. In March and April there is a fine display of cherry plum blossom in the mixed hedgerow which forms the site's western boundary. From a botanical perspective, summer is the least interesting time, when much of the ground is covered in a vigorous growth of nettles; an indicator of the nutrient-rich soil. Despite the site's small size several interesting bird species have been recorded, including tawny owl, goldcrest, marsh tit, and siskin.
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