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Marden’s classic landscape feature is the mature oak tree. Either in woodland, or singly in meadows or hedgerows, oak trees feature in nearly every village view. Many organisms are totally dependent on oak for survival, so the health of our oaks is of fundamental importance to biodiversity.
Most woodlands contain birch trees; generally, these are hybrids of native birch species. This means that birches have differing bark colours and patterns, which are beautiful in winter. They are a pioneering species, being among the first trees to colonise new woodland.
Hazel, coppiced over centuries, is still a feature of ancient woodland. It is the home of the hazel dormouse. Coppicing (periodically cutting rods to ground level) constantly renews the trees, helping them last for centuries.
Field maple is used widely in hedgerows, where it quickly establishes, producing its winged fruits in autumn from delicate yellow/green flowers. But it can grow into stately woodland trees. Its wood is sought for carving and turning.
Aspen is an opportunist, sending suckers and seedlings over a wide area. It can quickly establish a thicket and can exploit any gap in the woodland canopy. It has large catkins in early spring, which are an early source of pollen. It is a valuable foodplant for some of our rare moths.
Hawthorn (or quickthorn) is common, most often seen as a hedge, in which it excels. It establishes a thick stockproof enclosure in a short time. Its white flowers (occasionally pink) are the classic ‘mayflower’, and the berries, or haws, are an important source of bird food in autumn. The woodland, or midland, thorn frequently hybridises with common hawthorn.
Two other woodland trees, the chequer or wild service tree – a Weald speciality – and guelder rose occur occasionally in woodland. Chequer is an indicator of ancient woodland.
Ash dieback has arrived so these trees may disappear from our landscape. Perhaps the ash may find a way of adapting to this arboreal pandemic in time. Elm hedgerows still persist today, many years after our soaring elm trees were lost to Dutch Elm disease.
Fruitgrowing in Marden increased throughout the 19th century. In 1917, 1,517 acres of Marden were occupied by orchards, and fruit was sent daily to London by train. Such was the importance of fruitgrowing, the first Marden Fruit Show in 1933 was the event that became the biggest commercial fruit show in the country.
Fruit growing is still important, which means tall hedgerows for windbreaks have been retained. Orchards are part of our landscape and attract flocks of winter thrushes to clear up what fussy supermarkets won’t take.
Orchard trees have wilder relations growing all around them. Many hedgerows contain bullace, damson or sloe, relations of the domestic plum. Wild and bird cherries are common. There are apple trees too – these are more likely to be seedlings from discarded apples than our native crab apple. Did Marden’s first farmers take inspiration from the wild species around them, or did native species thrive around early orchards?
Sallow is a term given to shrubby willows – again, often hybrids – which thrive in waterlogged soils. Even when clumps of willow are blown over, they simply continue to spread and grow. Catkins from male trees produce large amounts of pollen, blown to female trees in the wind. Many insects, including moths and butterflies, are associated with sallow.
Alders also thrive in very wet conditions by ponds and rivers, they can tolerate low soil fertility as they can fix nitrogen from their roots. They are easily identified by the small cones, which get progressively woodier through the year. Small finches are particularly keen on picking the seeds out in winter.
Fauna and Flora
We have generically grouped all our Fauna and Flora and know that these groupings aren't always perfectly correct, but this has been done to make it simple to get an idea of the variety of species we have in our parish. We do not expect this website to be used as an encyclopaedia.
Our unique environment allows a great variety of species
Reptiles & Amphibians & Mammals
You'll be surprise what's we have in the area
Great variety of moths, butterflies, dragonflies and more
Without these Trees and Plants would not survive
Orchids & Flowers
Such a diverse amount of flowers in different environments
Trees and what comes with them
Trees create homes for many different elements of wildlife