Conifer Identification Day in Harrogate
A small group of ATI verifiers and volunteers from the Woodland Trust’s Nidd Gorge met at the West end of Harrogate Valley Gardens for the purpose of learning more about conifers. On a very warm and sunny day our leader John Killingbeck initially looked at a range of unknown branch samples which attendees had brought with them (it was a Bring a Branch Party !).
With the knowledge that conifers are actually quite a large and diverse group of trees we set off into the Pinewoods and the Pinetum section of the Gardens looking for real examples. We tried to untangle the nomenclature as we found Douglas Fir (not actually a Fir) and Western Red Cedar (not actually a Cedar).. We were encouraged to smell the crushed leaves as a possible means of differentiating between cypress species. We enjoyed a picnic lunch before looking at a few more exotic species in the more formal part of the gardens. This included the Wollemi Pine, a tree unknown until 1994 when a grove was found in a remote valley in New South Wales. The specimen planted in Harrogate is growing very strongly, seemingly liking the Yorkshire climate. The Valley Gardens location is excellent for this type of training as there is easy access by bus, good parking and a cafe. We finished mid afternoon and thanked John for his efforts.
Alan Hunton, Lead ATI Verifer