Categories
autumn forests photography trees woodland woodlands

Textures of the New Forest

Autumn is a great time for noticing the many different textures all around us. The bright low sunlight emphasises changes in light and shade hence enhancing the textural qualities in the woods and heaths of the New forest.

I hope you enjoy my gallery of photos of the many and varied textures we spotted on our walk. Just click on the first picture and use the arrow to navigate through.

 

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autumn autumn colours colours forests light light quality memorials nature reserves the South trees woodland woodlands

Walking the New Forest – part two

We will continue our walk where we left off at the end of part one of “Walking the New Forest”.

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We left the old Oak behind crossed a clearing and followed a pathway through Beech trees as we aimed for an old wooden gate.

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The gateway afforded us views of an open area with few trees and most of those were now of Birch, our native Betula pendula.

Ferns within the wooded area tended to be the Hard Fern variety but once out in the more open and much drier heathland the main ferns were our common Bracken. The Bracken was showing signs of changing into its autumn coat but the Hard Fern is an evergreen and keeps its leathery deep green coloured fronds.

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We took an indistinct path which led us diagonally towards a little wooden bridge which enabled us to cross a ditch. As we crossed wet muddy patches we found signs of life, bicycle tracks left by previous human visitors and prints of deer

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Crossing the footbridge we aimed for a distant stand of brightly coloured Silver Birches.

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Leaving the heathland behind we crossed over a gravel track that led to a forestry worker’s house and entered a new inclosure of forest. The trees here started off as a selection of mixed deciduous native trees, but before too long conifers crept in. Slowly these dark pines took over completely and we found ourselves walking in dark woodland. Little grew beneath these trees as they blocked out the sunlight. The fresh smell of our native broadleaves was replaced by a resinous aroma reminiscent of pine household cleaners. Less inviting a smell than the warming and welcome scents of our native broadleaves.

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The path we were following suddenly met a crossroads where a clearing allowed more light through to reach us and the forest floor. Foxgloves appeared both as first year rosettes of leaves preparing to flower next year and as seed heads, the remains of this years flowers and the promise of more Foxgloves to come.

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We looked up from the bench where we sat enjoying our coffee break and noticed the bright leaves of Sweet Chestnuts and beneath them we discovered their nuts, nut cases and fallen leaves. We were entertained by the loud noise of rutting stags roaring through trees and the gentler sounds of the diminutive Goldcrests high in the branches of the conifers.

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The final leg of our walk took us along forestry tracks through the conifers and then back into the brighter world of native deciduous trees.

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Just before finding the car park we passed alongside a line of huge conifers blown down in strong winds, a line of destruction.

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We really enjoyed our first experience of the world of the New Forest. We had plenty more planned for our break.

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Categories
drought flowering bulbs forests garden designers garden pools garden wildlife reflections

Are You Sitting Comfortably? Part 2 – the second in a very occasional series.

This is the second and “very long time coming” post in my series about garden seating in all its guises. Please just enjoy the photos and let your imagination get to work wondering what it would be like sitting on each and every seat. At the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show we found a good assortment.

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A chair can be somewhere to watch the rain watering the grass or somewhere to seek outat the end of a mosaic pathway.

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Jude the Undergardener prefers them to relax on and if possible have a cup of tea and a good chat with friends.

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Some seats simply look too elegant to be sat upon and prefer to be admired.

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Many garden seats are under arches or inside domes of trees. This one is on our allotments in our new “Garden of Contemplation” and the arch over it is created from old iron hurdles.

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Gardeners like to train trees over seats sometimes to give natural shade to the resting

gardener.

 

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Wood is probably the commonest material we build our garden seating out of, sometimes these are good to look at but less comfortable to sit upon, others look good and are comfortable too.

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This carved stone seat is definitely better to look at than to sit on.

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Many gardens are keen recyclers too so their seats tend to blend happily into their natural surroundings.

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For the final garden seat in this second selection we shall stay with the theme of recycling. How about a sunken garden where you can sit down and feel the coolness of the earth. You can see how much the creator enjoyed making this unusual piece of garden furniture.

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So there we have it, my second set of photos of garden seats, some cheap some expensive, some expensive and some home made and recycled. I shall be off now to find more seats to sit on in the gardens we visit, in readiness for the next garden seats post.You can never tell with this series you may have to wait months again or it may just be next week – who can tell?

Categories
bird watching birds forests photography Shropshire trees wildlife woodland

Forest Foray

On a cool damp April morning when heavy rain was forecast for the afternoon, we set off to the south of our county, Shropshire, to explore some of the tracks around the Mortimer Forest. We chose to visit the area known as Whitcliffe.  When we parked up in the car park alongside the Forestry Commission offices we knew we were in for a treat. The colours of the trees looked fresh and glowed with every shade of green, and the calls and songs of birds mingled to  fill the air, Nuthatches, Thrushes, Blackbirds and Robins.

We decided, as we only expected to have the morning to walk before the heavy rain arrived, to take the track, called the Whitcliffe Loop, that would afford us a two-mile walk through deciduous and coniferous plantings. We were soon to find that the trail was poorly marked so we were frequently unsure if we were on the right track or not. But who cares, we had a great morning’s forest wanderings.

The beauty of the Mortimer Forest is the sheer variety of habitats created by the areas of different trees, some conifers planted in straight lines for wood production, some wind break tree planting and large areas of native deciduous trees. The odd tree out amongst these if the native larch, Larix decidua, which is a conifer but it sheds its needles in autumn. In April its new needles are the brightest green to be seen in a conifer and its bark is beautifully patterned, textured and coloured.

Almost as bright are the new leaves of the Silver Birches.

Beneath the trees, wildflowers are infrequent but when we find them they are worth the wait. Wood Anemone, Stitchwort and Bluebell bloom demurely between clumps of Woodrush and the leaf growth of foxgloves.

We were delighted to find this anemone with much longer and narrower petals than all the others.

A plant we were surprised to find was a small clump of a native euphorbia with dark stems which emphasised the Chartreuse bracts, tiny yellow flowers within them and the glaucous foliage.

Just over half way around our planned ramble, we entered an area of Cupressus trees planted as a wind break planted to protect newly planted young trees years ago. these heavy-looking trees cast such a deep shade that nothing grew beneath them and peering beneath their hanging branches was like looking into a cave.

All the bird song that had accompanied us up until then stopped. No wildlife seemed to favour this dense, dark area and I can’t blame them. Not my favourite sort of tree – simply too static. The only signs of wildlife as we passed along the narrowed pathway was the occasional high-pitched calls of Goldcrest, Marsh Tit and Willow Tit. Having deduced that we were amongst wind break planting we knew we were nearing the edge of the forest so we looked forward to openness and wide  views.

Not only did we find that but also a well-positioned bench inviting us to sit a while and appreciate the views with a coffee and some fruit. As we approached the open area a flash of green passed rapidly overhead, low to the tree tops and at great speed. it was a Green Woodpecker. We were soon to discover why he was in such a hurry for this area was littered with anthills. Anthills mean ants, their favourite food.

The wooden bench was so popular that the ground in front had been worn away so much that when we sat on it our feet didn’t reach the ground. We could swing our feet beneath like little kids on big benches. The views, the coffee and the fruit were enjoyed in equal measure especially when we were entertained by a Buzzard, which rose from the valley floor a few hundred below riding a thermal that took him past us and way up until he was little more than a black dot.

The valley side here dropped steeply away from the edge of the forest where we sat. The ground around us was covered in rough tufts of grass through which tumbled Honeysuckle  and Brambles dotted with Bluebells and Stitchwort. Small trees, Spruce, Birch and Whitebeam, none reaching over a couple of metres tall gave a few perches for finches.

As we took the path back into the forest we noticed butterflies sunning themselves on tufts of dried vegetation, Tortoiseshells and Painted Ladies. Before we reached the dappled shade on the edge of the trees there were more clumps of wildflowers now including Oxalis, with its shamrock like leaves.

Towards the end of our walk we took a turn into an old trackway where the rays of the sun peered through coppiced trees along the sunken track. Here we were sheltered from the cooling wind and the bird life changed. Blackcaps, Whitethroats and warblers entertained with their song. Courting pairs of Speckled Wood butterflies ignored us and carried on their erratic chasing flight. The Small Tortoiseshells were much more subdued perhaps waiting for the sun to warm them up a little.

While walking along the stone-paved bottom of the trackway we discussed a Stinging Nettle with unusual foliage, much darker than the norm and with hints of purple particularly deep along the edges and at the tips. The stalks were a pure, deep purple.

We were later to discover that this trackway was an ancient sunken cart track with the wonderfully apt name, Holloways.

Two miles of slow ramblings along footpaths often muddy and soft underfoot and so much to see and listen to. the true highlight of the day was a short few moments when two Long Haired Fallow Deer crossed the path in front of us. We watched silently as these rare creatures trod carefully through the trees not making a sound. These deer are unique to this forest. I couldn’t get a photo of them but I did get a photo of this little friendly fellow.

It wasn’t easy though because he was elusive but he was just too friendly crawling over my hand and even the camera before he finally decided to move to this bramble and pose for his shot.

As we neared the end of our walk after enjoying the presence of such wonderful trees, wild flowers, birds, insects and the occasional mammal, I was subjected to the sight of two of trees that were far from favourites. I really do not appreciate trees that are rigid and never-changing such as these tow we met at Whitcliffe.

Returning to the car park a picnic bench under a tall maple and sitting in the spotlight of the beams of the sun was most tempting.

It was definitely too tempting for Jude and I as we still had a little coffee to enjoy and some apples and pears to accompany it.