Take a festive stroll in Cardinham Woods this winter and fill your senses with the joy of the season, from the smell of the Norway spruce and the sight of the bright red berries of the holly, to the feel of the cold air on your rosy cheeks!
Chris Mason is a member of the Forestry England team that cares for forests across Cornwall, including our local beauty spot, Cardinham Woods. Chris told Bodmin Life all about the winter trees and plants that grow in this beautiful working woodland.
That wonderful scent of Christmas that fills the woods is from the Norway spruce that grows there, a variety that has not been so popular with Christmas consumers in recent years due to the fact that it is more prone to drop its needles. Chris explained how these incredible trees stay green all year round.
“While deciduous trees drop their leaves before cold weather arrives, conifer needles contain a chemical that acts like a natural antifreeze,” he said. “When the weather turns frosty, trees shut themselves down while this antifreeze helps them to keep their needles, ready to photosynthesise when conditions are suitable.
“The activation of this antifreeze chemical is important for good quality and long-lasting Christmas trees. Trees that are cut before being exposed to a few hard frosts (e.g. during a mild autumn) are likely to drop their needles more quickly.”
There is also plenty of holly and ivy decking the hollows and hedgerows of the woods. Chris added: “The red berries that are so traditional at Christmas are only found on the female trees. They also often have more prickles on their leaves, possibly to help protect their precious berries.”
Annual thinning work takes place at Cardinham Woods. There will be disruption on9th-20th January, when there will be no public access for safety reasons.