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Seasonal Visits to two very Different Gardens – Bodnant Gardens

Following on from our seasonal autumn visit to our smaller garden for 2019 we took a drive up to north Wales to wander around our larger garden, Bodnant Gardens. Join us as we enjoy the signs of the new season on its trees and shrubs.

Within the first ten minutes wandering we had discovered so many interesting plants and plant combinations. We were slowly making for the Winter Garden, one of our favourite parts of the garden. A first for us was a wall trained Gingko biloba which was really striking, as were the glossy indigo berries on this Dianella.

 

Of course The Winter Garden excels in its season but puts on a pretty good show in the autumn too.

 

From The Winter Garden we wandered through the open woodland towards the Acer Glade. All along the way trees were warming up the day with their hot coloured foliage and with some the added splash of colour provided by berries. I hope you enjoy my short gallery of photos below.

 

The woodland paths of gravel and sometimes grass led us to the predominately orange and red Acer Grove, which was busy with photographers and grandparents escorting their grandchildren picking up selections of their favourite leaves, natural jewels of the glade floor.

   

We left the Acer Grove and made towards the stream which we crossed by a wooden bridge and went upwards into the wooded slope of the dingle, so that we could wander along the many paths and look down into the dingle itself. We found more acers and other colourful deciduous shrubs below the giant conifers. Follow our journal be enjoying this gallery.

And so our day of wandering around the wonderful gardens at Bodnant came to an end, but as usual as we walked towards the gate we had a look at the Hot Garden alongside the stone wall. There is always something worth a second glance here whatever month we visit.

Perhaps one more visit to our other garden Wildegoose to go and if tempted another to Bodnant before the year is out!

 

 

 

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A family holiday in Scotland – Part 4 – Dawyck Botanic Gardens

Jude and I had the opportunity to spend a day at Dawyck Botanic Garden, a garden which is part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. What made our visit extra special was that we took our little granddaughter Arabella with us. At just 20 months old she is a great lover of gardens and especially trees.

Dawyck is a woodland garden rich with trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials to back them up. We have visited so many woodland gardens and arboreta over the years but we were amazed by how large Dawyck’s specimen trees were, the largest in girth and height we have ever seen.

 

Arabella was fascinated by the disinfectant pads which visitors had to walk through to help prevent the spread of tree desease to help protect our trees. Good to see the garden setting a good example. Too many of our trees seem to be under threat. Once Arabella realised we were off exploring the woodland she wanted her explorers back pack on. Then she was off!

 

We wandered off trying but failing to follow the yellow way-marked trail, stopping regularly to look up at the tallest trees and touch their bark and study their leaves.

A new word appeared for Arabella when she saw these trees – ENORMOUS! This was always followed a big “WOW”.

     

Arabella did however wear herself out so succumbed to a sleep time so Jude and I enjoyed a good rest too.

We were so fortunate to visit Dawyck on a day with brilliant light quality that emphasised texture and patterens in foliage and bark.

        

But trees cannot take all the praise as herbaceous perennials and ferns were of equal interest and beautifuly displayed and cared for.

      

I have saved this tree until last as it took our breath away and sent our granddaughter speechless for a while until she blurted out excitedly, “More enormous!”

 

It is rare that you can say that the seats in the cafe were worth a mention but these at Dawyck were beautifully carved from wood and each was original. They were comfortable too! A good end to an exceptional day with trees and a young tree appreciator.

 

 

 

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Autumn in an Arboretum and Afternoon Tea

We were lucky to receive a voucher for an afternoon tea from our son Jamie and daughter-in-law Sam, and of course little Arabella and decided to redeem it at a hotel down in the Cotswolds, near the village of Moreton-in-the-Marsh.

We drove down early and spent time wandering Batsford Arboretum, enjoying the colours of autumn leaves before the winds blew them from the branches. It was a dull day but the foliage glowed through the gloom. Most colour came from Acers and Liquidamber of many varieties of each. The wind had already whipped many leaves from their branches.

  

Of course autumn isn’t complete without the red, pinks, oranges and reds of berries, provided by Sorbus, Malus and here at Batsford by the unusual tree called Zanthoxylum planispinum (photo below left).

  

One area of the arboretum was strongly influenced by Japanese garden styles, complete with red painted wooden bridges.

  

While looking at this statue of Buddha we had to suddenly take refuge  in the Japanese tea house nearby from a quick but heavy shower in.

 

We only just allowed ourselves enough time to reach Charingworth Manor for our afternnon tea booked for three in the afternoon. On the journey there it began to rain slightly and the temperature dropped so we were glad to get inside this beautiful Cotswold manor house to the warm and dry. We sat to enjoy our tea close to a huge log fireplace of golden Cotswold stone.

What a great day we had with autumn foliage, an amble around an arboretum finished off in style with afternoon tea.

 

 

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The Place for Plants – East Bergholt Place Gardens

As we move towards the end of February it seems a good time to share with you a visit we made to a beautiful garden in the summer.

The gardens at East Bergholt Place, otherwise known as “The Place for Plants” was one of our chosen gardens to visit when we spent a few days down in Suffolk. It is situated in the Stour valley on the border between the counties of Suffolk and Essex. We had high expectations of the gardens as they are affiliated to the Royal Horticultural Society, usually a guarantee of a garden well worth a visit. The garden includes an arboretum and the National Collection of deciduous Euonymus, my favourite family of shrubs.

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East Bergholt is a garden with a calm atmosphere full of peacefulness and contentment. Just to walk its grass paths seeking out specimen trees and shrubs makes the visitor feel calm.

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Varieties of Cornus kousa with their showy bracts add patches of colour beneath the collection of unusual mature trees.

Cornus kousa “White Dusted”

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Cornus kousa “Satomi” with its pink bracts.

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Down in the valley bottom a string of  small lakes provided good habitats for a collection of Hydrangeas which grew beneath a large specimen of the Wing Nut Tree, Pterocarya fraxinifolia, a member of the Walnut family, with its long green “catkins” growing up to 60cm long.

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Wandering back towards the nursery and cafe we came across a lush valley with a stream winding its way through, its richly planted banks.

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We always enjoy finding quality pieces of sculpture placed carefully and shown to their best advantage and this figure was situated close to the stream in the short-mown grass.

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The brightest plant of all was this orange Tiger Lily, looking so fresh amongst the lush rich greens of the trees and shrubs.

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I would like to finish off with a selection of photos illustrating the variety of plants beginning with a couple of interesting trees followed by other flowering plants found throughout the Place for Plants at East Bergholt.

An Aesculus in full flower,

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Staphylea pinnata,

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and Nyssa sylvatica “Wildfire”.

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Definitely a place for plants!

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The Dorothy Clive Garden in September

Back again ready to enjoy another visit to the Dorothy Clive Gardens and see what has been happening since our August visit. We expected early signs of Autumn and hoped for some colourful displays of Dahlias and Salvias. We decided to take a walk around the young mini-arboretum area this month instead of following the winding paths of the Dingle which has less interest at this time of the year.

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As we wandered over to the coffee shop we admired the views over the lower garden and the light which lit up the Pampus Grass behind the Viburnum caught my eye. This was a sign that we could be looking forward to interesting light for garden photography. fingers crossed!

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The border alongside the entrance to the coffee shop was at its most colourful so far this year, with Dahlias, Salvias, Nerine and Hesperantha sharing their colours.

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These brightly coloured plants set the scene for much of our September visit.

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I thought that a gallery of brightly cheerful flowering plants would be a good way of sharing the warm feeling prevailing over the Dorothy Clive Garden this September visit.

Please click on first pic and then navigate using arrows and of course enjoy!

I promised to share our enjoyment of wandering around the soft grass paths that led us around the little arboretum and closely studying the young trees. One surprise was the total lack of autumnal tints to the foliage.

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We were particularly taken by this unusual, in fact unknown to us, Hawthorn, Crataegus laciniata. We are now considering adding one to our garden.

The foliage presented a metallic appearance, almost pewter and the haws ranged from yellows through orange and to a dull brown – a most subtle but attractive combination.

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I feel that another gallery is the best way to share our amble through the arboretum.

 

Our next visit to these lovely gardens will be for our October report so we should be getting into signs if autumn by then.

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A Devon Garden with Betulas – Part 3

Welcome back to Stone Lane Garden in Devon for part three of the report of our visit.

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We continued our meanderings along the grass, wood chip and gravel paths through the woodlands that are home to the incredible National Collections of both Betulas and Alnus.

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Ken Ashburner owner and gardener at Stone Lane collects seeds and plants on his plant hunting travels, so when he plants a grove of a variety there are lots of interesting variations to enjoy.

Betula albosinsensis varies widely with its shades of white or silver with added tints of oranges and pinks.

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The selection of Betula albosinensis given the name “China Rose” is a particular beauty. The white sign in the photos tells visitors that this particular Betula is available in the nursery which is part of the garden. A great idea!

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A sudden and very short-lived patch of blue sky passed over the towering old native Birches emphasising their beautiful skeletal winter forms.

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Gardens are great places to site sculpture and it was good to see plenty as we followed the narrow path through the woodlands that led us back to the  garden’s gate.

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These tall thin pale stems of a herbaceous plant appeared as a delicate piece of sculpture and where they fell they created a drawing on the woodland floor.

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We crossed the narrow stream by a narrow wooden bridge made slippery by mosses and algae. From the bridge we looked down into the little stream’s bank side and noticed King Cups already in full flower, looking like golden coins shining against their deep glossy green foliage.

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The dampness and shade of the woodland makes it a place favoured by lichen, fungi and mosses.

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We came across an Alder that had been felled and were drawn to the brightly coloured surfaces exposed by the saw.

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As we spotted the gate which would end our exciting visit we were drawn to bright orange blooms on a shrub in the distance. Once we got closer we knew it had to be a Berberis and we were right. It looked luminous in the dull afternoon light. A delicate pale pink Geranium close by was much harder to find.

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We had spent a really interesting day at Stone Lane Garden that was full of the delights of our favourite trees the Betulas. We left determined to find space for a few more at home. The following two days we planned to spend at the amazing RHS Rosemoor Garden. See you there!

 

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A Devon Garden with Betulas – Part 2

Back at Stone Lane we continued wandering along the grass paths which were so soft underfoot. We enjoyed discovering more and more Birches with beautifully coloured and textured bark and fine winter silhouettes plus the odd Alder and pieces of sculpture.

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Alnus barbata diplayed bark as rough and fissured as the skin on the legs of an old elephant.

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At the furthest end of the woodland garden we found wildlife ponds and two interesting shelters. On the far bank of one of these ponds we spotted two geese and it was only as we approached closely did we realise they were in fact sculptures. Their wings were decorated with simple line drawings of flowers.

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The second shelter proved to be a total mystery. We couldn’t work out what it had been used for in the past or in present times. It looked as if it had wheels at one time. We thought it may have been a poultry house but today it seemed to be a bird hide.

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It sat beneath a stand of Alnus glutinosa, which were already showing young catkins bursting from buds.

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Alnus hirsuta was showing new fresh foliage rather than catkins.

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Back to a Betula – Betula maximowicziana, a real tongue twister of a name, had striated bark in delicate shades of pink and ginger. Fine strips of its bark peeled back in almost vertical lines.

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We found a beautiful place for a rest and coffee break, a wooden rustic shelter surrounded by Birches. A stone and mosaic birdbath stood close by and a pink flowered Azalea provided restful colour. Looking straight ahead from where we sipped our coffee we enjoyed a view of more Betulas, of which we cannot get too many.

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Now just enjoy coming with us as we wander along grass tracks and gravel pathways discovering the huge varieties of Birches in Ken Ashburner’s amazing collection.

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Naturally there were many other plants of interest as well as the Birches and Alders we came to see.

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We were delighted to find a stand of Betula utilis ssp. jacquemontii “Snowqueen”, as we have a beautiful trio of these pure silvery-white barked trees. They have an ethereal quality about them. We open our blinds each morning and our silver trio delight us every day whatever the weather and whatever the light is shining on them.

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To finish part two of our posts about Stone Lane please enjoy another set of pics to illustrate the vast variations in our favourite trees, the Betulas.

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A Devon Garden with Betulas – Part 1

While visiting Devon in mid-February we planned to spend a couple of days at the RHS’s Rosemoor Garden where an exhibition of sculpture was on show throughout the site.

Before leaving we discovered that Stone Lane Gardens was close by, a garden which holds the National Collections of Betulas (Birches) and Alnus (Alders). Our hotel was situated in between these two gardens, so we  decided we simply had to visit this garden too.

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We drove across the moors of Dartmoor covered in a cloak of mist and fine drizzle for an hour before dropping a little lower which took us beneath the dampness. We followed small inconspicuous signs towards the garden as the lanes got narrower and narrower until we turned into a cobbled farmyard which acted as the car park. The buildings were deserted but we found an honesty box in which Jude dropped our entry fees. We were pleased to find a map to borrow.

We crossed the narrowest of lanes and entered the garden through a beautiful wrought iron gate. Its beauty was a reflection of the treats that waited for us as we walked along a gravel path into the woodland garden. We stopped to admire a wildlife pond and ahead we spotted a beautiful metal sculpture. Further sculptures were to be found close by.

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It was a delight to find native Daffodils and Snowdrops growing alongside our trackway.

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We soon came across some of the alders in the garden’s National Collection. February is probably not the best month to see Alders so I only took a few photos. The texture of their bark did look good though as did the remains of last year’s flowers. We will certainly return later in the year and take a better look.

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After passing through a tunnel of coppiced Alders we got our first view of the Birches we had come to see.

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We were drawn to a group of dark barked Birches. Luckily the trees here are well labelled so we discovered them to be Betula ermanii “Mount Zao Purple”.

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The next group we were attracted to through this enchanting woodland was of Betula raddeana. This was a very varied group presumably grown from Ken’s seed collecting expeditions.

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Having explored each of this group touching their bark and having close up looks at their bark and branch structures we moved on soft grass paths through so many young Birches.

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Our native Downy Birch, Betula pubescens looked incredibly gnarled and deeply fissured.

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Devon is well known as being a good place for mosses and lichen and the trees here were well covered. As we reached the end of the garden we found pools and odd pieces of sculpture dotted between groves of alders and birches.

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We shall return to share with you our wander back through the woodland garden.

 

 

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Arboreta in Autumn – Batsford Part 2

As we return to Batsford we are still wandering along the pathway that promised us views of plen1ty of unusual and beautiful trees and shrubs. Being autumn of course gives us the added benefits that it brings – yellows, oranges and reds in every shade possible. Many are on the ground at our feet so rather than just their colours we enjoyed their sounds as we scrunched through them with our boots and kicked them into the air bringing back childhood memories. Jude the Undergardener and I have frequent childhood memories which we have to relive.

Think of autumn colour and for many the first plant to spring into the mind is the massive family of Acers. Batsford has dozens of varieties both trees and shrubs.

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We were drawn in by the sight of raspberry coloured seed pods shaped like arthritic old fingers. They were hanging on a Magnolia x veichii “Peter Veitch”, with its large pleated leaves.

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The scent from these lovely acid yellow Mahonia reminded us of pineapples which made our mouths water!

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We have a Liquidamber styraciflua “Worplesdon” in our front garden which is fastigiate so takes up little room, but this beauty would dwarf an awful lot of our other plants. The Liquidamber styraciflua here is a beautiful tree as are all Liquidamber.

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There is more to this arboretum than trees and shrubs as we discovered when we came across this Japanese style building and oriental sculptures, all adding a little eastern spice.

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This sculture was equally beautiful but was simply created by Mother Nature as the top of this tree had died away.

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Wherever I go in the autumn and winter I keep an eye out for dried seed heads and flower heads as I enjoy their colours, shapes and textures. I managed to manoeuvre my self and my camera to photograph these against dark leafy backgrounds.

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Just a few shots now to illustrate how much colour can be found around trees in this autumnal period.

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The pale raspberry coloured fruit of Cornus x cousa “Norman Hadden”  once ripe will be enjoyed by the local Blackbird population but they look good before they disappear.

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So that is it for our visit to Batsford Arboretum for now but I feel sure we will be back.

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Arboreta in Autumn – part 2 – Batsford

We made a special effort to get to see several different arboreta this autumn. We visited our friend Richard’s arboretum twice, then drove northward to the Bluebell Arboretum and Nurseries and finally south to Batsford Arboretum in Gloucestershire.

Batsford is one of the biggest and oldest arboreta in the UK and a very well-known one so provided a good contrast to Richard’s place and Bluebell as these are relatively small and both just over 20 years old. Their own publicity leaflet describes Batsford as “The Cotswold’s Secret Garden” but judging by the number of visitors even on a dull day it seemed far from a secret.

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New borders lined the gently sloping pathway leading down from the car park to the reception area. The beauty of the planting here which included this yellow berried Sorbus and two very different Indigofera, prepared us for the treats we had in store.

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After walking just a few yards from the entrance we came across a special tree – one of those specimens that stops you in your tracks and starts the brain and memory off trying to work it out. It was like a Cotoneaster in leaf and growth habit but it had black berries rather than the more usual red. Luckily it had a label and it was indeed a black berried Cotoneaster. Here was a plant we had never seen before or even knew existed. It is called Cotoneaster moupinensis. This was going to be a good day!

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Contrasting leaves in shape and size make for good plant combinations, such as this large leaved Dalmera paltata in front of the delicately leaved Acer palmatum. We liked the contrast between the slim fragile white Fuschia flower and the gritty surface of a capping stone as we crossed over a bridge.

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Autumn visits to any arboretum means colourful foliage but we always find flowers of interest flowering in this season too, Hydrangeas, Viburnum and an unusual flowered Heptacodium.

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Berries too caught our attention among the colours of fire, the yellows, oranges and reds especially this particular Berberis dripping with long racemes of red berries. Nearby rose hips dripped from the plant which had lost all its leaves.

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Sorbus pseudohupahensis “Pink Pagoda” bears berries of pin and white which from a distance gives the affect of pink mist. Another Sorbus attracted us by the sheer size of its pure white berries, Sorbus cashmeriana.

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Sorbus scalaris like most Sorbus displays red berries but what is most noticeable with this tree is the uniformity of its foliage which was hanging on into the autumn.

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Remember the Dalmera peltatum  which I showed teamed up with an Acer, well we found several large clumps of this bog-loving plant around Batsford. I enjoyed getting up close and looking through the Nikon lens at the details of their giant leaves.

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No arboretum visit in the autumn can be reported without celebrating the family of Acers. Enjoy!

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As well as the bright changing colours of the leaves and the appearance of berries there is one tree that we appreciate in autumn for its pale yellow coloured autumn foliage but this foliage as it falls has an amazing sweet smell like brittle toffee, burnt sugar or toffee apples. Cercidyphylum japinicum

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As we moved on along the trail we were literally stopped in our tracks at the sight of the Berberis with its incredibly long and unusually coloured racemes of flowers.

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Around the next bend in the path this beautifully coloured cherry tree glowed a salmon pink colour and we rushed to read its label. We discovered it was a close relative of a tiny flowering cherry we grow in our Japanese Garden at home, Prunus incisa “Kojo-no-mai”. This much larger tree was Prunus incisa fuginaea, the Fuji Cherry. We could only guess at how spectacular it must look in flower.

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We wandered on stopping frequently to look for labels, sometimes to confirm what we thought trees and shrubs and sometimes to find out.

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I always manage to find Betulas (Birches) in every arboretum we visit and here we came across the beautifully coloured bark variety, Betula albosinensis Septentrionalis.

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