Wild Flowers, Crossed Beaks, and 100 not out!


Some wild flowers, just like more “domesticated” plants, flower better in some years than others.  Long dry springs followed by torrential early summer showers are clearly good for Ragwort whose yellow flowers seem to stand so tall and luminous against their leaf-green backdrops in the hedgerows and fields here at Broxtead.

  It really does stand out this year blowing in the breeze with                   equally tall Willow Herb blooming and is all interspersed with umbellifers (great word – my computer is not liking it so I do!) – this describes the Cow Parsley and Hogweed that form part of the plant family known for their aromatic qualities with hollow stems whose cluster of flowers form a compound “umbel”.  I shall be looking out for the rare Red-tipped Cudweed that is due to flower this month – it likes bare ground with no competition.  These umbellifers are standing proud in Sandy Lane, Broxtead.


Meanwhile, on the commercial growing side of things, the rain has perked up all the crops and we look set to start harvesting cereals shortly.  The yields will be low and the straw short due to the dry spring.  We continue to lift potatoes – two different varieties of delicious Bakers known as Maris Piper and Marfona.

After the excitement of last month’s sighting of the European Roller, our local newsletter contains a photo of a Crossbill, taken at Tangham near Upper Hollesley Common just at the edge of Broxtead. Described as “a chunky finch with a large head and bill which is crossed over at the tips”, adult males are a distinctive brick-red and females greenish-brown. They are resident all year round and eat conifer seeds.

Here in the Estate Office, alongside all the every day management tasks, we are looking to the future by looking back!  Before you think we are taking the Pilates and Yoga practised by staff a little further by turning into time-travelling contortionists, we are looking to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Paul Family’s ownership of the Broxtead Estate in 2014.  The estate’s history until 1914 has been extensively written about in the book “Sutton People”  by Greville Bickerton (visit www.suttonpeople.com )  and this is a great opportunity for us to research life at Broxtead  since then by talking to retired members of staff about their recollections of working life here – and I mean life – several worked here from the age of 14 until they retired and who now live on the Estate in our retirement homes.  I also hope to look into the history of some of the families who have been connected with the Estate and whose twenty-first century generation still work here today.  We envisage a display of some sort once we have collected and collated all the information over the next 3 years so if you have anything to add, please contact Ali Hollingsworth on 01394 411242.

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