allotments arboreta autumn autumn colours colours ornamental trees and shrubs shrubs trees woodland

Arboreta in Autumn – part 1- Bluebell Arboretum

The highlight of every autumn season has to be visiting various arboreta of which there are many within a day’s drive. Our first visit this year was to Bluebell Arboretum and Nursery situated in Derbyshire near the town with the wonderful rather eccentric name of  Ashby-de-la-Zouch. The nursery specialises in rare and unusual shrubs and trees and every plant they sell is of excellent quality.

Within the first 5 minutes of our wander around the arboretum we had discovered a lovely variety of trees, shrubs and perennials. Betulas, Acers, Clethras, Euonymus and Hydrangeas.

2015 10 19_6220 2015 10 19_6221 2015 10 19_6222 2015 10 19_6223 2015 10 19_6224 2015 10 19_6227 2015 10 19_6228

But of course you can find little clumps of the brightest of colours, orange as in these Kniphofias.

2015 10 19_6229 2015 10 19_6230 2015 10 19_6231

We enjoyed close up views of fruits and flowers in between having to step backwards to appreciate the full beauty of specimen trees.

2015 10 19_6234 2015 10 19_6232 2015 10 19_62352015 10 19_6238 2015 10 19_6261 2015 10 19_62402015 10 19_6248 2015 10 19_62392015 10 19_6242

In close proximity to trees we always take a close look at textures on their bark.

2015 10 19_6236 2015 10 19_6237

Of course being autumn time we were here largely to view the colours of the season. The leaves of this Cotinus were turning red slowly beginning with splashes of colour between the veins, giving a great contrast of reds and greens. Liquidamber turn deep shades of red through the autumn and hold onto their coloured foliage until the early spring. The first leaves to turn can provide almost black shades amongst the greens.

2015 10 19_6243 2015 10 19_6250

This oak displayed foliage in the deepest orange and had the interesting name “Quercus x Warii “Chimney Sweep”.

2015 10 19_6258 2015 10 19_6259

Where autumnal colours are concerned none could be brighter than this deciduous Euonymus.

2015 10 19_6245 2015 10 19_6246 2015 10 19_6247

Luckily for us the nurseryman were well into a trial of new strains of Physocarpus opulifolius, those shrubs that afford us the glossy almost black foliage. At home we grow the well established “Diablo” but we were pleased to be able to study newer varieties with differeing tints of colour working amongst the black, such as “Diablo D’or” . In the next few years we will be seeing some interesting improved variations on “Diablo”.

2015 10 19_6252 2015 10 19_6254 2015 10 19_6255 2015 10 19_6257

I shall finish the first part of our visit to the Bluebell Arboretum and Nursery with a look at a few specimens of my favourite trees the Birches, grown as usual for their incredible coloured and textured trunks. These three photos show how the trunks can vary from white to black with colours in between.

2015 10 19_6262 2015 10 19_6266 2015 10 19_6269 2015 10 19_6271 2015 10 19_6267

We shall continue our tour of this great little and relatively young arboretum in part 2.

arboreta autumn autumn colours colours garden furniture garden seating light ornamental trees and shrubs outdoor sculpture trees woodland woodlands

Queenswood Arboretum – Part Two – the Oaks

Having enjoyed the Autumn Garden we found a sign indicating a footpath to an “Old Orchard” and the “Readers Chair” which naturally took us in the opposite direction to our planned route. Diversions are good for you! Just see what we found by following this one!

2014 10 23_6208

We followed the path beneath tall slender trees and found an orchard of ancient fruit trees.

2014 10 23_6186 2014 10 23_6187 2014 10 23_6188 2014 10 23_6189 2014 10 23_6190 2014 10 23_6191 2014 10 23_6192 2014 10 23_6193

When we reached the centre of the old orchard with its sweet scent of rotting apples and fallen leaves we found out what the Reader’s Seat was. It was really a large piece of outdoor sculpture which was also a seat. I imagine the wood it was constructed from was oak as it was weathering to the most beautiful and palest of silver. The carvings were so beautifully sculpted into each face of the uprights which made up the canopy over the circle of seats.

2014 10 23_6194 2014 10 23_6202

2014 10 23_6205  2014 10 23_6196 2014 10 23_6198 2014 10 23_6195 2014 10 23_6197 2014 10 23_6198

We sat a while appreciating the craftsmanship of the seat with its carvings before exploring further the old orchard itself.

2014 10 23_6199 2014 10 23_6200 2014 10 23_6201 2014 10 23_6203 2014 10 23_6204 2014 10 23_6207

But where we we headed before the wooden sign post persuaded us to search for the Old Orchard and Reader’s Seat? We were off to find the Oak Avenue. We expected this to be a shaded walk between tow tall rows of ancient native oaks. How wrong we were! What we actually found was a small field with two rows of oaks from all over the world. Tall ones, short ones, fat ones, thin ones and even a shrub like one. There seemed to be an Oak from every corner of the world. But to get there we wandered through Cotterill’s Folly where huge Beech trees towered over the path and covered that path with their waxy tough leaves.

2014 10 23_6218 2014 10 23_6219

2014 10 23_6251  2014 10 23_6228

Our first oak surprise was this narrow-leaved tree with slightly pendulous branches, aptly called the Willow-leaved Oak. Its foliage looked so fresh and full of vitality, which was in stark contrast to the Armenian Oak we looked at next. This oak had large leathery leaves already coloured for autumn.

2014 10 23_6221 2014 10 23_6222 2014 10 23_6223 2014 10 23_6224 2014 10 23_6226 2014 10 23_6227

Our next oak was a small tree with leaves like those of a Sweet Chestnut.

2014 10 23_6229 2014 10 23_6230

One thing that all oaks attract is lichen and we soon found this stunning glaucous example shaped just like stags antlers.

2014 10 23_6231

Our next Oak looked just like an Olive tree – it was just the right size and shape with glaucous leaves just like those of an Olive. But when we got closer and noticed its bark we knew straight away it was some sort of a Cork Oak. The label informed us that it was a Quercus variabilis, a Chinese Cork Oak.

2014 10 23_6233 2014 10 23_6234

We were so surprised to see the next of our Oaks as it was just four or five feet tall, a small shrub rather than a majestic old tree. Nuttall’s Oak, Quercus texana surprised us again when we noticed its beautifully shaped leaves, somewhat reminiscent of a Liquidamber.

2014 10 23_6235 2014 10 23_6237

Close by we found another shrubby Oak but this one had a different growth habit. It was a solid looking bush with simple leathery foliage. This was a Bamboo Leaved Oak – very well named.

2014 10 23_6238 2014 10 23_6239

This old Cork Oak had died but in death presented itself as a piece of textured sculpture. But it did frame another autumn coloured Oak on the far side of the green area.

2014 10 23_6241 2014 10 23_6242 2014 10 23_6243

This neat small specimen on the left was an Algerian Oak and the equally neat one on the right was a Shumard’s Oak.

2014 10 23_6244 2014 10 23_6248

After enjoying discovering so many different oaks most of them new to us, we began to make our way back to the car park. We passed a Wild Service Tree one of our rarest native trees before moving on through a little plantation of Betulas and made our way towards a stand of Redwoods.

2014 10 23_6252

To share this last leg of our wander around Queenswood Arboretum just look at the third post in this series.