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Evergreens

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

It’s that time of year where the oranges, golds and yellows of October and early November transfer from branches to the ground, creating brightly coloured carpets beneath skeletons of trees. It will be some weeks before the woodlands and meadows around Gate Street Barn spring to life again, with wildlife gearing up for the lean winter period.It’s that time of year where the oranges, golds and yellows of October and early November transfer from branches to the ground, creating brightly coloured carpets beneath skeletons of trees. It will be some weeks before the woodlands and meadows around Gate Street Barn spring to life again, with wildlife gearing up for the lean winter period.

Of course, not all trees shed their leaves. Conifers keep their typically dark green colours year-round, precisely why they make the perfect Christmas tree. Compared to broad-leafed trees, conifers might seem a bit lifeless, but you’d be surprised at the amount they can provide, even for us humans.

Conifer needles make an unlikely wild food source with surprising medicinal properties – cut them into small pieces, make a pine needle tea and you’ll have yourself a healthy dose of vitamin C. Juniper berries are better known. You can infuse them into vodka to make homemade gin, or use the fragrant stems to smoke foods.

Some of our smallest birds will associate themselves with conifers, using the dense, year-round cover to keep warm and dry. The tiny Goldcres

t – weighing little more than 5 grams and measuring around 8 centre metres – is particularly fond of evergreens and their high-pitched call can often be heard emanating from them.

Crossbills, with their curious beak design, are too found regularly in such trees, munching on pine cones. Their ‘chip-chip’ call is a rare sound in the woodlands around Gate Street Barn, but regular enough.

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