A cold dull day with a biting easterly wind. Stay at home and enjoy a book in front of a roaring homely log fire? No, we decided to get out into it and enjoy a walk in the woodland in the grounds of our local National Trust property, Attingham Hall.
We visit regularly and no two visits are ever the same. We set out on this particular walk expecting to see the first signs of spring, perhaps the fresh green growth of Hawthorn, buds on trees fattening fit to burst or birdsong all around. How wrong we were. The wood is still in the grip of winter and birds remain quiet, except for a Mistle Thrush who cast his song far and wide over the tree tops, a melodic uplifting tune. One patch of Hawthorn displayed some green but only one.
However in the protection of a brick wall this Flowering Currant defied the winter and cheered us up with its soft pinky-red flowers hanging in so many tassels. Nearby just beyond the warmth provided by the wall the tight yellow buds of a variety of Mahonia aquifolia patiently wait. The odd splash of blue sky above us reflects in the gloss of the leaves. Close by their cousins the Berberis are a little behind but both will respond to some kinder weather.
The last of the Snowdrops still hang on, and wherever there is protection flowers respond.
Where elderly specimens of trees begin to break and fall sculptural shapes are created. This old split trunk looks huge amongst younger trees and its boughs stretch out across the ground rotting where they fell and colonised by a carpet of mosses.
There is something magical about woodlands, they make you feel calm and relaxed and they make some visitors more creative or more childlike. They build dens, climb trees or create little bits of land art. The National Trust are doing a brilliant job in encouraging these effects on their visitors, in particular with their little booklet “50 things to do before you are 11 3/4“. Right in the depths of the woodland we came across these two simple but beautiful land art pieces.
Tree surgeons at work have left their marks. We were amazed when we spotted the beautiful “fern” chipped into the bark by a chainsaw. The off cuts were used to make a wonderful big logpile to attract insects especially all the beetles who make Attingham their home. The National Trust’s woodland management keeps wildlife in mind. It is heartening to know that Stag Beetles now live here.
In the walled garden the extra warmth afforded by its tall brick walls has allowed flowering plants to make some progress towards Spring.
The best feature of our walk was to see a Honey Bee at work feeding on Wallflowers in the walled garden.
What a great walk we had, cold ears and noses but plenty of fresh air and sheer joy at being outside and in woodland. I hope you enjoy the collection of pics below!