Serving the people of Berkhamsted




Everybody loves bluebells. They are associated particularly with ancient woodlands (i.e., woodlands that date back to at least 1600). They are, however, not alone in this. Many less well-known woodland flowers, such a sweet woodruff, dog violet and wood anemone, are also regarded as indicators of a woodland's ancient status. They make use of the spring sunshine to flower before tree leaves cast their shade. They are rarely found in newly planted woodlands because they do not disperse across great distances. In fact, in one study, wood anemone was found to spread by just 6 metres in 100 years! Many spread via vegetative growth (e.g., roots or bulbs), rather than by seed – another reason for the slow spread and colonisation of new areas. Ashridge is an important home to much ancient woodland, so watch out for the indicator flower species and you can be pretty confident that the trees around you began their life before Elizabeth 1st's ended.

This is around the time that Pitstone Windmill is thought to have been built. The huge oak post on which it pivots was about 200 years old when commandeered. This iconic landmark is looked after by the National Trust and harbours extraordinarily clever and intricate workings and a truly fascinating social history. To unlock the windmill's stories for visitors to enjoy, volunteers are needed. The team is full of inspiring people from all walks of life who get a real buzz from working and learning together.

Are you looking for a new adventure? Would you like to join them? If so, please get in touch. The Ashridge team would be thrilled to hear from you, so please email or ring 01442 851227.

Rikki Harrington (Ashridge Estate Committee Member)

Posted: Mon, 20 Mar 2023 11:44 by Town Warden

Tags: Ashridge, Rambling