Panshanger Park is 1,000 acres of countryside situated between Welwyn Garden City and Hertford. Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is working with the park’s owners, Tarmac, to manage the park for both people and wildlife.
It feels like the spring weather is keeping us in suspense for the time being, with winter wear still being a central part of the daily wardrobe. However, in our local green spaces, the wildlife has been anticipating the spring and getting ready for it.
At Panshanger Park, the snowdrops have been brightening the landscape up for a while now, with some cheery yellow daffodils hesitantly peeking through. These daffodils can be seen down from the orangery and in the garden woods by the house site, with lots more being visible from the central track through the park.
Other, slightly subtler, flowers are also evident this time of year. Wood anemones are a sign of spring and can be found in dappled light conditions in woodland areas. It is quite a low growing species, meaning it is not as obvious as some of its showier peers. It has large white or purple streaked delicate petals, which are in fact sepals. Sepals are usually the green part of a flower found outside the petals to protect them as it gets ready to bloom. The name wood anemone comes from the Greek god of wind, Anemos, who, in early spring, sent his namesakes ‘the anemones’ to herald his coming. Wood anemones are also sometimes called ‘Windflower’ because of this legend.
Wood anemones soaking up the spring sunshine ©Emma Matthars
Currently starting to emerge are the cowslips. Cowslips were originally known as ‘cow slops’ due to their association with cow pats in fields! They can be found out in grassland meadows but also woodlands too. Their bright yellow rosette flowers are a definite sign that spring is on its way and, as with all these spring flowers, are an important source of nectar for early pollinators. Beetles, bees and butterflies, such as the brimstone butterfly – one of the first to be seen in the season – all benefit from the nectar rich spring flowers.
Cowslips, originally cow slops, heralding the spring weather
Leaf buds on the trees are also starting to come through (keep an eye out for these as you walk through the park). Especially exciting are the signs of leaves growing out of the saplings in our new woodland! If you’ve not walked past yet, do have a look at our new woodland site in the centre of the park.
To celebrate the arrival of spring, we will be hosting a free, family-friendly quiz trail starting from the Thieves Lane car park, running from 1 to 16 April. Feel free to pick up a quiz sheet from one of the rangers in the car park. For more information on upcoming events, check out our events page.
Jo Whitaker is the Panshanger Park people and wildlife officer. She works for Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and her role is funded by Tarmac.