International monkey mixture

A mixture of monkeys! Findings in the Lake District, South Wales, Herefordshire, Scotland and… Australia.

Agent J on Twitter spotted this one in Grasmere in the car park of the Grasmere Garden Village – slap bang in the middle of the Lake District, which is Cumbria, but for administrative reasons has a ‘LA’ postcode. So this is LA17:

LA17 Grasmere

Agent J also spotted another ‘beauty’ between Windermere and Grasmere but couldn’t stop the car – yes, a familiar problem for monkey hunters… so hopefully we’ll be able to hunt that one down from Google, on my first look I couldn’t find it.

Next Agent Jeff on non-monkey business recently went to a funeral in Pembroke and hunted a number of monkeys – you can see them towards the end of this post – and even driving home he was on the look out. He sent me photos of his view from the road, eventually tracking down this monkey to Dukestown Cemetery – making it our first ‘NP’ monkey. Good work, we’ve come to expect nothing less from Agent Jeff. Dukestown cemetery is to the north of Tredegar and there are several photos here on the town’s website. Interestingly Tredegar is the birthplace of Aneurin (Nye) Bevan, and the website calls the town ‘Birthplace of the NHS’. Bevan created the National Health Service after seeing how the local miners (of which he was one) created its own health service in miniature, in Tredegar.

And another Pembroke monkey from Agent Jeff during his South Wales travels, adding to our ‘SA’ catalogue, this is SA7:

16Aug Pembroke map

And also from a secret agent – through Agent Jeff – we have this lovely tree at Ullingswick, at Lower Hope Gardens. The same agent sent us two trees from King Caple, you can see them here.

HR53, Lower Hope Gardens, Ullingswick.

HR53, Lower Hope Gardens, Ullingswick.

To the right of the monkey in the photograph above you can see the leaves of a very nice Liriodendron tree – this is a variegated version – another of my favourite trees.

And in nearby Pencombe Jeff found this monkey:

HR54, Pencombe.

HR54, Pencombe.

And thanks to Catherine – who commented on the blog and told me about this monkey in Inverness, which is our first ‘IV’ monkey, and also the most northernly monkey in this country, and the ‘only one in the town for many years’, it’s in Dochfour Drive. Thanks for this – lovely monkey.

IV Scotland map

And lastly – Agent S has sent across the information that in the National Arboretum of Australia in Canberra they’ve planted 160 monkey puzzle trees to contribute to its conservation – in the wild this tree is endangered. (Their website is here, the link to the MPT forest page is here, saying they were planted in 2009). Monkey lovers everywhere will be pleased to know this has happened. I had thought that Australia might be too hot for a monkey – but apparently not.

A note on the growing range of monkey puzzle trees – it prefers temperate climates with abundant rainfall, tolerating temperatures down to about -20°C (-4°F). It is far and away the hardiest member of its genus Araucaria, and can grow well in western Europe, the west coast of North America (north to the islands of Haida Gwaii in Canada), and locally on the east coast, as well as Long Island, and in New Zealand and southeastern Australia. It is tolerant of coastal salt spray, but does not tolerate exposure to pollution.

INT Canberra map

I have also marked the islands of New Caledonia on this map also as they are of interest to tree fans. In his wonderful book, ‘The Secret Life of Trees, How They Live and Why They Matter‘ – Colin Tudge writes this about New Caledonia and the family of trees Araucariaceae (the araucarians), the ancient family of trees of which the monkey puzzle tree is one:

The Araucariaceae were very various in dinosaur times (235 to 65 million years ago), and they lived all over the world. Now there are just 41 species left, in three genera – Agathis, Araucaria (which includes the monkey puzzle tree) and Wollemia – all in the southern hemisphere. The greatest variety of Araucariaceae is on the magical Pacific island of New Caledonia, perhaps the most pristine remaining fragment of ancient Gondwana.

There are 19 extant (not extinct) species in the genus of Araucaria, and 18 of those are found in New Caledonia, where 13 species are endemic, meaning they occur nowhere else. So the monkey puzzle’s closest relatives live in New Caledonia, and for that it is worthy of note here – although of course the Araucaria that grow in New Caledonia are tropical so are not familiar to us in the northern hemisphere – unlike the monkey puzzle tree. Colin Tudge goes on to say:

The monkey puzzle tree from Chile and Argentina, was once a favourite in suburban gardens (and is still hanging on there; many only just coming in to their pomp).

Well I would say, based on our observations here, that monkeys are still favourites of suburban gardens. And of Araucariaceae in general, Colin says, ‘Truly they are a relict group, and we should be grateful for the survivors.’ Indeed! I am very grateful.

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