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The Noak Bridge




Nature Reserve Society

Newsletter  -  Winter  2019

Around the Reserve with the Chairman

Hello. I never tire of walking the Reserve, usually with my dog; it is quiet and so relaxing. Despite the effects of a few acts of vandalism the Reserve has continued to look lovely and I've seen the changing colours of the four seasons. Over the years many insects, small animals, snakes, slow-worm, foxes, birds and muntjac have all been seen here - a muntjac was reported to me within the last six weeks. Now most of the wildlife are hibernating until the Spring.

I would usually meet a number of walkers, mainly with dogs themselves. Sometimes the conversation would come around to how lovely and peaceful the Reserve is. This year it seems to have been quite quiet where visitors are concerned. Some days I have walked for an hour or more visiting every part of the Reserve and not seen a soul. One Sunday morning recently though, my wife and I were walking our two dogs and met three ladies walking their dogs. While talking, my wife mentioned membership. One lady asked what we get from being a member. I could only reply with, "The benefit of helping to keep the Society going, thus keeping the Reserve rather than losing it to the developers." I also gave a brief history to the Reserve's beginnings after the land was originally saved from the developers.

This leads me to the concern of possible development of the green space next to the lower end of the Reserve. This piece of land provides a wildlife corridor for the wildlife in the Reserve. Building on that land could effectively close this route through. I wonder what effect that will have on our Reserve!

Ray Batty



Whilst the poinsettia may not be a wild flower in the UK, it is native to Central America and is known as Taxco del Alarcon in Southern Mexico. The Aztecs called it "cuetlaxochitl" (can you pronounce it?) and had many uses for it. They used the red bracts to make a purple dye which was used in cosmetics and fabric, and a medicine used to treat fevers was made from the white sap.

It was probably named poinsettia in the mid-1830's, after the man who introduced it into the USA from Mexico. Joel Robert Poinsett, the first USA ambassador to Mexico in 1825, became interested in the plants after seeing them growing in the Taxco region in 1828. He sent them home to his plantation in South Carolina where he had greenhouses, and they were successfully grown there. He distributed the plants to botanical gardens and friends. One such recipient gave one to Robert Buist, a plants man from Pennsylvania, who may have been the first person to sell poinsettias under their botanical name Euphorbia pulcherrima, which means "the most beautiful Euphorbia".

Why do we associate poinsettias with Christmas? Maybe because it is almost impossible to buy them at any other time, but I think you will agree that the following story of an old Mexican legend is much more appealing. A poor girl had no gift to give to the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve service. As she walked sad and empty handed to the church, her cousin tried to cheer her up. He suggested that even the humblest gift would make Jesus happy, but she still did not know what she could give. However she noticed some weeds growing by the roadside and decided to pick them and made them into a small posy, but still she was embarrassed by her meagre offering. As she walked towards the altar she remembered what her cousin had said and began to feel better. She knelt down and placed her posy by the nativity scene and as she did so her tiny bouquet burst into bright red flowers and everyone knew they had witnessed a miracle. From then on these red flowers were known as "Flores de Noche Buena", flowers of the holy night. The shape of the poinsettia flowers and leaves are thought of as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem, the colour red symbolising the blood of Christ.

Researched by Joan Fynn



your Spring Newsletter is due in March 2020



We wish you all a Very Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year


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last updated - 15 December 2019
URL - http://www.nbnrs.org.uk/news1912/index.html