Thursday, 5 June 2014

Reading the Landscape with Patrick Whitefield

As I write this post I am pausing to look out of the window of the Ragmans Lane Farm bunkhouse, out across the fields to see a group of students winding their way back from the woods. They have just completed Patrick's Reading the Landscape course with a tree identification walk through one of the small areas of woodland on the farm. In this course which taps into his seemingly endless knowledge of the land, Patrick teaches us to be natural detectives, using landforms, hedgerows, trees, animal signs and herbaceous plants to tell us a story about the land as it is today and as it has been throughout time.
Microclimates can have a dramatic effect on plants and trees.
High north facing slopes have often remained wooded due to their poor growing conditions. Trees can thrive here where edible crops and livestock can't.
Some woodland floor plants such as Ramsons are an indication of ancient woodland. It takes plants like these and bluebells a long time to become so established in a large area of woodland, but once they are there they can remain there for a very long time as few other plants can out-compete them.
If you are interested in learing how to understand the landscape that surrounds you you can find out more by finding Patrick's book The Living Landscape or by attending a weekend residential course at Ragmans Lane Farm.

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