We spent an overcast, sunless day wandering around Bodenham Arboretum this week. We have passed its brown sign hundreds of times over the years on our way down to my home county of Gloucestershire and we always declare “We must go there sometime!”. Well, we finally did! Why did we wait so long?
A cup of coffee and a slice of cake enjoyed whilst overlooking the lake was a great starting point, and gave us time to study the map and sort out a route. As we purchased our tickets we were advised that first time visitors should begin with a walk around the Poplar Dingle. So we took the advice and followed the gravel pathway into the dingle, where our eyes were soon treated to the sight of two small Acer palmatum growing and glowing on the banks of a small pool.
Nearby we were struck by a clump of dogwoods which to begin with looked like the usual ones we grow for their red-coloured stems in late winter and early spring, but there was something about these that deserved a closer look. the leaves were painted in pinks and creams of every hue!
Lots of the more interesting trees and shrubs at Bodenham are clearly labelled and this cornus was one of them – Cornus sericea “Hedgerow Gold”.
As we left the Poplar Dingle we moved into an area rich with the reds of acers, but as we entered it we were struck by this row of coloured stemmed willows, glowing in the gloomy light.
After relishing these richly-coloured acers we followed the Five Pool Walk, a trail through a wooded valley studded with small pools, leading to Bodenham Wood. Here the smell of woodsmoke followed us, seeping through the valley sides from the dying fires of woodsmen at work in the valley bottom below us.
As we turned a corner this butter-yellow larch glowed against the deep green of its fellow conifers, but Larix decidua is the exception to the rule. Its needles turn yellow and fall.
Bodenham is full of surprises and as we found the track to take us back to the cafe we met this beautiful armillary sundial. Behind it the clump of trees contained some of the richest colours of our visit, and unexpectedly the colour came from a group of unusual oaks.
We came expecting to be wowed by the rich autumnal foliage colours – the colours of fire – and we were not disappointed, but perhaps the highlight of our visit was the spindle which gave up its shocking pink flowers. Soon these will open to reveal vivid orange seeds. What a rediculous combination, one that few gardeners would dare to put together.
We may have taken a long time to visit Bodenham Arboretum but we shall not wait so long return.