It is pouring with rain – continuous heavy miserable rain pouring down from a dark grey headache-inducing sky. Humidity clings to us. Too wet even for us rain-defying gardeners to get out and garden, too hot and humid to work in the greenhouse. so what to do today? Go for a walk and just get wet of course.
So off for a half hour drive down flower edged lanes to a wood on Wenlock Edge, a place enjoyed when our two children were young. Edge Wood. We park the car in a clearing – it is so dark and the rain continues to bang on the roof of Jude’s little car.
Waterproofs are donned and the camera hangs around my neck hidden from the rain under my jacket. We set off along rutted paths, the mud has been churned up by the hooves of horses so we struggle through mud and deep ruts off into the canopy of trees, taking dark photos of a dark day.
Every leaf surface is shining with wetness and the tip of every leaf has a droplet of rain hanging waiting to drip, matching the drips on the edge of the peak of my cap and on the end of my nose.
The wet surface of foliage serves to emphasise their textures and shapes, increasing their individual beauty.
This little wood is home to 250 different wildflowers but today only a handful are in evidence. It is late in the season and the darkness is not enticing buds to open and display their flowers.
The Woodbine, our native Honeysuckle, clambers up many of the tree trunks and display flowers at nose height encouraging us to enjoy their scent. But in the daytime the scent is hardly discernible from the wet wood smells, for it does not give off scent for us, it will wait until the evening draws in and intensify the scent, a special scent to draw in night-flying moths who will do the Woodbine’s bidding and pollinate the blooms.
This little white gem shone like stars in the night sky – Gipsy Wort. The green of the foliage is so fresh and whitens the flowers even more.
The most floriferous of all plants in the wood in August are the grasses and sedges displaying a rich diversity of shapes and structures in their flowering.
There are signs of man’s influence hidden away in the wood, evidence of coppicing, an old hedgerow, layered hedging gone wild and trees felled. There are clues of man’s past presence, working woodsman and farmers. The hand of man is now being rubbed out by the heart of nature.
As we wander through the wet wood we get regular glimpses of the Shropshire countryside through gateways and gaps in the hedges and trees. The rain is softening the landscape and hiding hills from view.
The wood is home to a couple of rare mammals, dormice and the Yellow-necked Mice. Nestboxes are provided to encourage the dormice to breed and roost.
The tree canopy is mostly silent, the birds in moult keep out of sight ashamed of their scruffy appearance and worried that they are more susceptible to predators. In odd places the calls of small birds show they are moving about high above us, Goldcrests, Treecreepers, Siskin and Titmice in variety.
The paths lead us through the wood almost around its perimeter.
At times little cameos of nature’s work present themselves to us, little details giving glimpses of woodland beauty.
Sometimes being in a dark wood getting wet is the best place to be!