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Attingham snowdrop walk

Every year in February we follow our usual walk around the grounds of Attingham Park, a National Trust property just a half hour drive away. What makes this February walk different is the thousands of snowdrops growing happily beneath beautiful mature trees.

Another unusual aspect of our walk was the amount of standing water around, including flooding from the river that runs through the parkland.

An extra feature this year was a display put on by the local WI (Women’s Institute) all knitting and different forms of fabric craft. The pieces were displayed on the trees and on lengths of woolen yarn strung between trees and were created to highlight the plight of our planet, caused by climate change issues.

 

We particularly liked our first sighting of the signs of spring!

 

 

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Gregynog Part 2 – the woodland walks

Here we are back at the NGS garden, Gregynog where you left us just starting out on our exploration of the park’s woodland. We wandered past the rose hedge along the gravel drive before turning off to the left along a gravel track which took us past mature trees, both conifers and deciduous, with an understorey of shrubs. Autumn colours were beginning to show in their foliage.

  

Acers beneath the tree canopy provided bright splashes of colour.

   

We soon found ourselves having to cross over the driveway to enter the woodands and almost immediately came across the lake. We began to meet several other couples and families taking advantage of the weather and the woodland trails, as well as a few more serious runners using the “Green Gym”. We took the path that took us almost all around the lake and then took a side track, grassed underfoot, into the woodland itself. We walked beneath mature wrinkled Birches which let plenty of light through to allow an understory to grow away happily.

        

After walking half a mile into the woodland the pathsides were a mass of tall growing golden leaved brackens. The tallest were the same height as Jude, the Undergardener.

On the wood floor beneath the trees a carpet of colourful fallen leaves gave a soft surface for us to walk on.

A final surprise were the dens built around and against the tree trunks by young visitors enjoying the special woodland atmosphere.

Leaving the woodland we could see the hall through the trees, and then we discovered the “Green Gym”, where wooden gym structures awaited the fit and healthy visitors.

So that was our day out at Gregynog, a completely new garden to us and one we would enjoy visiting again.

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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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A Walk in the Park – Attingham Park – June

We made our June visit to Attingham Park early in the month to see how summer was coming on in the walled garden and in the wilder parts of the park along the woodland walks. We enjoyed a view of the cottage garden on our way to begin wandering beneath tall trees towards the walled garden.

  

The walled garden impressed us so much because it was full of colour, with plants in the double herbaceous border bursting with blooms.

We left the walled garden taking the path through the adjoining orchard, where we sat for a while to enjoy some ice-creams. Fully refreshed we followed the winding paths beneath the trees and between the shrubs, taking the Woodland Walk before taking a short cut back to the parkland, over two bridges and past the hall itself. You may notice that as we crossed over the bridges we enjoyed playing Pooh Sticks.

I thought I could share my photographs via a gallery for you to enjoy. Please click on the first pic then navigate using the arrows. I hope you enjoy the views we enjoyed.

 

Our next visit to Attingham Park will be in July when we will be well into summer.

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A Walk in the Park – Part Two – The One Mile Walk

Returning to a second post about Attingham Park, we would like to introduce you to another part of this Shropshire National Trust property. The One Mile Walk was our chosen walk on a November afternoon visit to Attingham Park. We only had a short amount of time available as the light disappears far too early for us outdoor types at this time of year. Attingham will be our featured monthly visit during 2017 when we will chose one walk from the several available, clearly marked throughout the parkland and woodlands.

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We decided that our chosen walk would give us the chance to relish in the beauty of autumn, trees and autumnal sunlight all working together especially for us. Come with us and see!

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The Mile Long Walk begins close to the stableyards and is a circular walk which has distinctive characteristics for the clockwise or anti-clockwise directions. So far on our many ambles around this path we have always followed it in a clockwise direction, really simply because given a choice we always go clockwise. So for this visit we broke our habit and took off in the anti-clockwise direction, and we were amazed how different it not only looked but also felt.

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For a while we ambled riverside, getting glimpses of the shining blueness of the surface of the little river.

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Some trees look special in so many ways. Sweet Chestnuts grow as tall as giants reaching for the passing clouds so have a magnificent presence. They have deeply textured striated bark of delicate grey. On the floor below them they carpet the floor in golden long-fingers of leaves and the spiky cases of the nuts, mixed up like a tasty granola.

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Lime trees decorate the tips of their branches with delicate seeds partnered with seedleaf wings which have the translucence of clear local heather honey.

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The surprise trees for us though were the Tulip Trees which dropped their leaves at all stages from the palest green to the darkest brown. Combined with the unique leaf shape it all added up to a great carpet.

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We had to look all about us as there was so much going on to catch our attention, lovely tree silhouettes against the blue sky right down to dried multi-coloured fallen leaves which became kaleidoscopic like pictures as the beams of the sun kissed them.

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We would love you to come with us and explore the wonderful “One Mile Walk” at our favourite parkland, Attingham Park. As usual start the gallery by clicking on the first photo then navigate by clicking on the arrows.

 

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Getting Creative in the Woodlands

In my last post we looked at what we discovered was going on in the old Walled Garden at Attinham Park and I finished just as we left the walled garden behind and began wandering around the woodlands.

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So here is the second part of our Attingham Park  autumn adventure.

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When taking a wander along the woodland trails at our local National Trust property, Attingham Park, we were amazed to come across this little art installation close to the soft surfaced woodchip path. Woodlands are like the seashore as they often seem to bring out creativity in people, perhaps even a return to making things which was last enjoyed in childhood. At the sea people often pile up pebbles to make simple sculptures, collect together mixed objects from the surf line and carefully put them together. This simple little piece sits beautifully in its surroundings and stopped many people walking by to have a closer look. No-one touched it, but simply looked, smiled, made a comment to their companions and walked on. It is a beautiful piece of sculpture, made anonymously and left for others to enjoy.

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We wandered on into the woods along winding paths beneath towering trees above while at our feet the orange, yellows and reds of fallen leaves. Fallen leaves always bring the children out in Jude and I and we kicked our feet through them, enjoying the sounds and woody aromas.

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The woodsmen who had been working on autumnal maintenance work left behind them little blocks and wedges of wood. Following on from the piece of found object sculpture we discovered and enjoyed earlier we both started to follow their initiative and got creative. The stumps left behind gave us ready-made plinths to work on.

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We collected bits and pieces of wood left by the woodsman or by Mother Nature and made various compositions on top of our wooden stump plinths. We couldn’t stop smiling as we played with the wood and loved the wonderful sweet aroma of fresh cut wood and leafmould. An outdoor studio! What a treat!

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As we completed each set we wandered on. Looking back through the trees we spotted other walkers stopping and taking photos of what we had left for them to enjoy, just as we had when we found that piece close to the walled garden.

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Moving further into the woodland the woodsmen had left areas cleared for coppicing, leaving multi-stemmed trees cut low to encourage regrowth. They reminded me of sculpture by Barbara Hepworth which are exhibited among trees at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

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I found slithers, slices and wedges of freshly cut wood and placed them among the stumps.

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Logs had been piled up to create habitats for wildlife winding wooden walls through the trees. The aroma here was of rotting wood, dampness and fungi.

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A huge old tree trunk felled years ago and left to rot providing shelter, food and homes for wildlife, had been sculpted by the weather, rain, wind, ice and snow, worked upon by insects, invertebrates and fungi to present us with a beautiful softly carved piece of Mother Nature’s sculpture.

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We loved finding this nest box beautifully and thoughtfully positioned on top of a rotting tree stump. We shall watch this in the spring to see if any birds like it as much as we did.

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As we left the woodland we moved into the deer park where trees were much further apart separated by tracts of bright green grass. Here fallen branches, trunks and brash had been left for children to make dens from. Another form of sculpture created by youngsters using wood from the surrounding trees. The dens had their own beauty and naivety. Each time we visit Attingham these dens change, new ones appear, the oldest begin to fall apart and some just seem to get bigger and bigger. Well done to the National Trust for encouraging such creativity for the visiting youngsters and for affording them the opportunity to get in touch with nature.

 

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I hope you have enjoyed sharing our spell of creativity in the woodlands at Attingham Park. When we next visit it will be interesting to see if any of our pieces remain intact after the winter storms and to discover how the children’s dens have been transformed by nature or by other children.

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Walking in the New Forest – part one

We decided we would take an Autumn break so went down to the New Forest for a short mid-week break. We loaded the car with coats, waterproofs and warm clothes thinking we were planning for whatever the weather had in store for us. We got it totally wrong for as we went further southward the weather improved and we ended up enjoying warm sunny weather. A real treat!

We have driven through or past the New Forest, Britain’s smallest National Park, several times and vowed we would holiday there some day. So as we arrived we had great expectations and we were not to be disappointed.

The New Forest proved to present the unexpected. Traffic jams and delays were not caused by vehicles but by livestock, cattle, pigs, donkeys and of course the famous New Forest Ponies. So here are a few shots of the many critters we encountered as we drove around the forest.

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Our first day excursion was to a Forestry Commission area of woods and heathland with way-marked walks winding through it.

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We set off firstly in search of the Knightwood Oak the oldest oak in the New Forest which reached maturity during the reign of Henry VIII. We followed the posts marking the way, rather beautiful way markers carved in wood.

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Among the hundreds of oak trees here we passed two other significant oaks on the way, celebrating important moments in the forest’s history. Firstly the Queen’s Oak was planted by Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the founding of the forest by William I in 1079. Secondly the Deputy Surveyor’s Oak planted to mark the contribution of a former Deputy Surveyor of the forest, Donn Small. The second oak was planted as a sapling from the Knightwood Oak itself. The ancient oak itself was surrounded by a chestnut paling fence to keep the public away from falling branches and to prevent the public from getting too close to the tree.

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Although this was a forest of mature trees there were signs of regeneration throughout, little saplings of all the main species of trees, so its future looks secure.

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At the other end of the age scale we were pleased to see that dead and dying trees were being left for the benefit of wildlife, insects, birds and of course the many fungi that live in woodlands breaking down and decomposing dead wood.

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In my next post about the New Forest we will continue walking this walk deeper into the woodland and across heathland until we found our way back to the car park.

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Portmeiron – the work of an eccentric.

We always enjoy spending the day at this crazy, quirky and totally exuberant “garden” on the Welsh coast near Portmadoc. Portmeiron is a village and gardens created by the eccentric Clough William-Ellis who bought the site in 1925 and then spent the following 50 years developing it into what we can visit and enjoy today.

The village is a collection of buildings  reminiscent of an Italianate style. Every wall is brightly painted in an array of extravagant colours. Some are hotels or holiday cottages, others restaurants and cafes while others are shops and galleries. It is a busy little place sitting on a strip of land below the Lleyn Penninsula and it fits snuggly between the beach and a wooded slope.

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In between the collection of crazy buildings a team  of gardeners work hard to maintain patches of colourful gardens. The soil is both shallow and full of stones and the land is on a steep slope so gardening here is a tough challenge. So come through the towering gateway and wander around with us.

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Although the Italianate style of the buildings that fascinates at first glance after a while the interesting juxtaposition of colours begins to catch the eye. Colours that you would not think of putting together when choosing paint for your home actually work beautifully.

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Although the bright colours dominate every scene once your eyes and mind adjust to them interesting details come to the fore, such as these bright blue ironwork, a relief sculpture alongside a ring, classical figures, the beauty of this stone archway and the vintage petrol pump.

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We took a break from the colourful conglomeration of buildings and ambled along through the wooded slopes above the village itself. Here we discovered ancient trees native and cultivated and an atmosphere of peace, with restful greens and relative silence, broken only by the calls and song of birds.

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We followed the woodland path until we found ourselves close to the cliff tops and followed it down towards the shore, where the buildings began again. This time they had a maritime twist to their architecture with white and blue colours dominating.

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As the road way climbed upwards we returned to the brightly coloured buildings of the village.

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We were fascinated by the interest of some visitors in particular buildings which it appears were featured in a TV series from the 1960’s, The Prisoner, which still has a strong cult following. It adds yet another layer of interest to this utterly fascinating “one-off” place.