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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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