After a picnic in the warm sunshine, we started our walk in Silk Wood as we rarely go there. We were too late for the spindles' display (various deciduous Euonymus species, just their bright orange seeds were left), but timed it just right for the Acers. Silk Wood houses the national collection of maples, so I wandered around happily exclaiming over the richness of their leaf colour and trying to find the best views I could. Even NAH was impressed by the display. We also found a katsura tree which was just beginning to release its delicious candyfloss-like scent from its leaves: the light overnight frosts we've been having recently have helped and the smell was most noticeable when I bent my head towards the fallen leaves. Yum.
We also walked over to the Old Arboretum because I wanted to see the Acer Glade. This has featured on the news recently as scientists are worried that the effects of climate change will affect these trees. Sadly we didn't see them at work, but everyone was stopping in amazement when they saw the vine (Vitis coignetiae) pictured on the left. That leaf is the size of my head and thousands of them were completely clothing a stand of extremely tall trees. Being a temporary feature it didn't have a label (unlike everything else), so I made a point of finding out. This proved to be a little tricky but eventually a more helpful volunteer found one of the Forestry Commission staff who could tell me. Apparently they'd only spotted it a few days before and had had quite a long search to track down the ID themselves.
It was a satisfying ending to a grand afternoon. If you're planning on visiting Westonbirt this autumn, you must go soon as the trees are at their peak. NB to RHS members: your free entry doesn't apply during October, so you'll have to cough up the £8 entry fee like everyone else. It's worth every penny.
NB Dave at The Home Garden is hosting the Fall Colour Project again this year. You might like to visit to get your fill of autumnal hues from all over the northern hemisphere :)