A Fitting Tribute

Richard Brook, for many years our Conservation Officer, died, aged 74, a year ago on 20 April, 2017. I showed some of his slides of local wetland habitats on members’ night, including this surprisingly open view of the top end of Newmillerdam, as it was in 1973.

In the 1980s, Richard ran a commercial nursery specialising in daffodils and developed the award-winning ‘Tripartite Narcissus’. It has three flowers on each stem and is still available globally. Last year it was exhibited at The North of England Horticultural Society’s Spring Flower Show at Harrogate.

Richard’s Tripartite Narcissus on the Order of Service from his funeral.

A friend of Richard’s from the Daffodil Society laid some on his coffin at the end of his funeral service.

Richard’s cousin, Philippa Coultish, tells me that the family has now sold Richard’s house at Crigglestone and cut back the jungle that had grown up around it over the past ten or twenty years: “All the daffs are coming up in the garden. The people who have bought it are excited to have the garden…I dont think they realise how fast it will all grow in the summer!”

By coincidence in yesterday’s Gardener’s World, on BBC2, Nick Bailey did a piece on daffodil breeding, interviewing Johnny Walkers, Honorary Vice-President of the Daffodil Society at Hever Castle, Kent, so, as I’d been in touch with him via Twitter, I told him of the coincidence of it being the anniversary of Richard’s death.

“I hope it was a fitting tribute,” he tweeted in reply.

Richard was a pioneer in habitat mapping; this method of recording habitats wasn’t adopted by Natural England (then the Nature Conservancy Council) until some years after he had first used it to record local wetlands.

A walk to Newmillerdam

We had a walk from our house in Ryhill to Newmillerdam in the superb spring sunshine going via Haw Park and the Walton Canal. Grass snakes have been seen regularly along the canal of late but we weren’t lucky enough to come across one thought there were plenty of butterflies such as orange tip, brimstone and speckled wood.

The bluebells at Newmillerdam were really just coming into bloom and are looking excellent at the top end of the country park. It’s interesting to see the rangers have completely cleared Newmillerdam of all rhodedenrons so there are some large bare areas but, given a couple of years, these will revert to the natural understorey.

Newmiller Dam bluebells

Newmiller Dam bluebells

Newmiller Dam bluebells

Newmiller Dam bluebells

speckled wood

speckled wood

spring crops en route to Newmillerdam