With the unseasonably warm start to the year, Essex Wildlife Trust’s Warley Place nature reserve has erupted into a sea of spring flowers with the yearly ‘Spring Bulb Spectacular’ already in full swing. The woodland floor and the surrounding meadows come alive in spring, with brilliant displays of snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and bluebells. Right now, daffodils; the heralds of spring, have bloomed throughout the reserve in their thousands.
The nature reserve also has a fascinating history. It was formerly the home of Ellen Willmott (1858-1934), an eminent horticulturalist and one of the first recipients of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Victoria Medal of Honour, in 1897. Many rare, exotic plants that she introduced can still be seen today. The fallen splendour of her house is much in evidence and an enthusiastic team of Essex Wildlife Trust volunteers have lovingly restored the garden, in part close to its original form.
Warley Place is also an excellent site for woodland birds, so bring your binoculars and take a break in one of the bird hides, looking out for Treecreepers, Nuthatch, Long Tailed tits and Great Spotted woodpeckers.
The nature reserve is open daily but from Saturday 23 February until Saturday 7 April, volunteers will be present between 10.30am-4.30pm to answer any questions you may have about Warley Place’s habitat and history. Essex Wildlife Trust also offer guided walks, available on Saturday mornings from 10.30am, for which there is a suggested donation of £4 per person.
The nature reserve is nearby to Essex Wildlife Trust’s Thorndon Countryside Centre (CM13 3RZ) so you can continue your day by enjoying the Gruffalo Trail or relax at the centre with a cup of tea and a slice of cake.