Telescopes and trees do not normally go together but there is one very special place here in the Midlands where they certainly do. We drove northwards on the A49 making our way into Cheshire in search of Jodrell Bank famous as a space research centre created by Sir Bernard Lovell. He was a man with varied interests trees, cricket and space. Here in Cheshire he indulged in two of his passions trees and space.
We passed through part of the information centre to get to the start of the arboretum trail and we tried to read some of the information panels and studied complicated diagrams. We were instantly lost – the realms of space are not within the realms of our understanding. We both find it fascinating but it all seems way beyond our understanding. At least we tried before moving into the arboretum – trees we can appreciate and understand.
This arboretum holds two National Collections, crab apples and rowans. Malus and Sorbus to be more botanically correct. These are two of my favourite families of trees, if only they had Betulas as well! I would have been in my element!
We had read on the website before coming that the paths can get wet so sensible footwear was advisable. We wore our walking boots and we were so pleased that we had. The paths were so wet often the water was almost to the top of our boots, but it didn’t spoil our enjoyment of a wonderful collection of trees set amidst a natural woodland setting.
A collection of deciduous Euonymus welcomed us as we passed through the wooden gate, their wild coloured berries and bright autumnal leaves were a treat for the eyes.
We wandered through woodland towards a fairly recently created garden designed by Chris Beardshaw. Before entering his garden we found a little collection of Berberis clothed in their waxy red berries which hung in long racemes.
Chris Beardshaw’s garden was designed to reflect the creation of space itself and was a strong design based on spirals and circles with a gentle mound at the centre affording us the opportunity of appreciating these shapes from above. The main planting was willows, grasses and perennials.
Soon after a circular walk around this garden of circles and spirals we discovered the first of the Crab Apples and they were laden with fruit, their miniature apples in sizes varying from tiny beads up to golf ball size.
This golden fruited variety in the two photos below are “Comtesse de Paris” and the red fruited variety below them with fruit reminiscent of the haws of our native Hawthorn is “Mary Petter”. Close by the stump of a felled old tree had been carved into a proud looking eagle. Upon the eagle we spotted a ladybird sunning itself perhaps finding extra warmth on the wood of the stump. Better camouflaged was the Shield Bug we found just inches away.
Malus “Indian Summer” was one of the newly planted specimens probably a cultivar newly developed although some of the old original crab trees were now being replaced as they died off.
But there was much more to this part of the arboretum than the wonderful crab apples, and we discovered interesting trees at every turn in the path and around every clearing, birches, walnuts, whitebeam and maples. In this area of the garden migrant thrushes were busy feeding up after their long journeys. All these crab apples, sorbus and other fruiting trees and nut bearing trees provide a wonderfully rich restaurant for them.
Two trees caught our attention but we didn’t particularly like either of them and they both seemed so out of place in this natural feeling woodland. They were more “novelty features” than attractive trees. First photo is of a strange weeping conifer and the second a columnar Whitebeam.
I shall finish part one of our visit to Jodrell Bank Arboretum with a photo of a lovely golden crab apple with blushed cheeks. My next post will be part two when we shall be on the look out for the second featured group of trees, the Rowans or Sorbus.