As our garden thermometer showed it to be 45 degrees in the recent heatwave I felt a bit sorry for our bees and dug our sun umbrella out of the shed and gave them a bit of shade.
The temperature in a hive is maintained at around 35 degrees – even in winter. But anything above that the bees start fanning with their wings and collect water. You can see them fanning at the entrance and often they gather in clumps outside.
It was a glorious but cooler day back in May when the Spring walk around Roath Park took place and to go back to that now seems a bit crazy but all the blame lies with Terry and Malcolm. They just didn’t stop throwing out the facts and figures and made it far too interesting so I am determined to do as promised and follow on with ‘part two’ if I can make sense of the notes I jotted down.
And it’s a graceful start – with the pinus patula – a Mexican beauty with its hanging green locks and salmon pink bark which apparently smells of aniseed when cut.
It has five needle clusters and when its cones ( which are its flowers) are rubbed they issue a fine dust.
As we walk out of the ‘secret garden’ opposite the Acer’s we stop to admire beautiful examples of the Mahonia shrub. Originating in Asia the flowers are individually small and bell-like in shape, flowering either on long racemes, or on short, congested ones. The bees love the nectar and pollen they provide and the flowers are often followed by tiny plum-coloured fruits, which are loved by birds.
So having walked for some time through the park you really do begin to feel the wonders of those who have gone before you and planted such gems. We should cherish their work for future generations despite the cut backs due to money that the council are enforcing. Cardiff council need to look at the bigger picture and invest in what makes Cardiff special. Thanks to Terry and Malcolm their enthusiasm is being passed on and everyone on the walk is becoming equally enthused. – the trees here are full of stories such as the one we now pass which ‘Malcolm explains is known as the tree for sailors… It is called Drimys Winteri or Winter’s bark and it was discovered by a sea Captain – John Winter – as far back as 1557 who used its aromatic bark to treat scurvy. Scurvy was the bane of sailors’ lives – causing millions to die – and the root cause was the lack of vitamin C.
It is also said that Sir Francis Drake himself drank tea made from the same bark to help with stomach problems. If you crush its leaves they have a peppery smell. It flowers in early Summer –
One of the main botanists planting here in the botanic gardens was Pettigrew and Terry explains that he grew the Davidia involucrata from seed.
It also known by the names of the handkerchief tree and the ghost tree and it is easy to see why.
There is a Wales’ champion of this tree in Bute Park – Bute Park handkerchief champion
And to end this tour with a more natural sun umbrella than the one I began with – and the final tree of the tour – is the queenly Cut Leaf Beech. She stands proudly on the corner of the rose garden greeting those who make their way to the rows of memorial benches.
Malcolm points out that a few of the branches have normal beech leaves as the new growth reverts back to its original species….
The new branches point us in the direction of the tea rooms so off we go to refresh our bodies. Our brains having been more than refreshed by Terry and Malcolm’s tree wisdom.