Taken from the old orchard of Ilbury Farm, below the site of the iron age fort with apple trees (Malus agg.) in bloom and two oak trees (Quercus robur) in view; the one right of centre is 98cm in diameter. Beyond is a field of oilseed rape in bloom in Nether Worton parish, with Hawk Hill in the background.
Deddington Parish Naturalists are studying hedges and habitats, and making an inventory of the woody plants of the parish. Surveys are being made of bird life in association with selected hedges in order to test the proposition that the more wooded a hedge the more diverse the bird life.
The report is divided into chapters including: deciduous woodland, oak trees, of which 497 have been mapped, green lanes, stream and riverside vegetation, the flora of the Castle Grounds, and a detailed analysis of species composition of the hedges and hedgerows. Of 850 hedges, details of 598 have been recorded. Hedges commonly have 3 to 5 species of woody plants, excluding bramble, ivy and rose; species-rich hedges range between 6 to 13 woody plants. Some of the most species-rich hedges, not surprisingly, are in the oldest part of the parish where there is a greater presence of field maple (Acer campestre) and dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) than in any other part. Hedgerow trees are most often ash and oak.
There are 11 woods, none are large or extensive. They vary in species composition, ash dominant in one, sycamore and crack willow in another; and on the oldest sites there are bluebells and ramsons. While the parish is nearly completely encircled by rivers and streams, wetland habitats are rare, but there is a tiny marsh near Sor Brook and seeps, springs and ponds in fields occur throughout the parish. To date, 415 flowering and non-flowering taxa have been found in the parish.
These studies will be included in Walter L. Meagher's forthcoming book 'Aspects of the Natural History of the Parish of Deddington'.