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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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Queenswood Arboretum – Part 1 – the Acers

Late October heralds arboretum visiting time. Last year we visited Bodenham and Arley which we take a trip to most years but we also traveled a little further afield into Cheshire to the Jodrell Bank Arboretum and the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. Over the last five years we have also taken trips to Westonbirt in Gloucestershire, Bluebell Arboretum in Derbyshire.

But there is one closer to us, in fact just an hour away across into Herefordshire, which we have never visited but were reminded of  as we watched Carol Klein visit it on the Gardeners World TV programme. So we made up our mind that our first arboretum visit this autumn would be to Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum. It was worth the wait! Come with us as we explore its delights on a dull overcast day occasionally dampened with bouts of drizzle.

We left the car park to follow Lime Avenue which would take us to the Autumn Garden which promised us a painter’s pallet of Acers. There is something special about the gentle scent of woodlands in autumn, comforting and warming, but this was interrupted by the more aggressive unpleasant odour of foxes whose tracks crossed ours periodically as we climbed the gentle slope below the huge limes towering above us. We diverted often! There were interesting trees grabbing our attention every few yards, making progress slow. Tree silhouettes, bark textures, leaf colours, leaf shapes – all there to distract and attract.

The trees had plenty of autumnal features to attract and distract tree lovers such as Jude the Undergardener and I. Berries, peeling bark, silvered leaves, brightly coloured leaves, black branch silhouettes ……………….

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When we reached the area called the “Autumn Garden” we were blown away by the collection of Acers with their striped barks, their red and yellow leaves and their sculptural trunks curling away below their leaf canopy. Part way through the Autumn Garden we found this plaque on the “Dendrology Stone” which was presented to Queenswood Arboretum in 1981 by the International Dendrology Society recognising the quality of its young trees, layout and public access. There only 19 arboretum worldwide which have received this award. This emphasises just how important this 47 acres of country park actually is.

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But there was far more to see here with trees and shrubs to discover around every corner.

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But let us enjoy a journey around the delights of the Acers before we get distracted further.

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We enjoyed a well deserved coffee break on one of the many benches we found within the glade of Acers with a wonderful view. We sat to enjoy our coffee and listened to the Woodpeckers and Nuthatches in the tree canopy. Jays entertained us collecting up acorns, beech mast and sweet chestnuts. This is the view from the seat we chose to take our coffee break sat on. How good is that!

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In part two we shall be seeking out an old orchard and the “Reader’s Seat”.