The Darwinian Expedition

The day of the Darwin mistletoe workshop (see blog 13th Feb) . So off to north Kent/south London first thing.

We start off with my mistletoe briefing – in Down House. Which is nice – ‘cos we’re in one of Darwin’s own rooms… So I feel obliged to quote, at appropriate moments, from Origin of Species.

Then it’s off to plant some mistletoe, pausing only for the obligatory press pics.

This is my version of the press picture – the group may look a bit worried (click to enlarge) but there is a lot of mistletoe being handled… and it can make people nervous…

Plus it’s a b****dy cold day (there’s snow in the lane), which accounts for why these lovely ladies are all sporting cosy hats.

But we’re soon at work – starting at Great Pucklands field (where Darwin did his earthworm studies – click here for more info on Down House geography ). Here we plant mistletoe on hawthorn…

Then a quick bit of planting on some limes on the Sand Walk… before a light lunch at the Down House tearoom.

After lunch, we go mistletoe planting on Apples in the recently established Downe Village community orchard.

Every planting gets labelled, and some get a chicken-wire guard to deter seed-eating birds.

Last site is at Downe Bank – a woodland/ grassland hillside site now managed by Kent Wildlife Trust. This is Darwin’s Orchis Bank – where he did his orchid studies in prep for the writing of Origin.

Here we plant on hawthorn, maple and whitebeam. The dominant tree is hazel, complete with dormouse boxes, but this isn’t a suitable host.

An interesting site – still with many of the orchids Darwin knew here – though this is hard to appreciate in February!

A good mistletoe day. Certainly Judy John (Bromley’s ‘Darwin at Downe’ World Heritage Site Officer) seems happy enough!

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