Thursday, 8 April 2010

Westonbirt Discoveries

Westonbirt is noted for its Autumn colours, but I love it year-round. Spring is another good time for a visit as it has many examples of Magnolias, Rhododendrons and Camellias in flower as well as all the fresh young leaves on the trees.

We've had family staying over Easter and whilst spring is behind itself at the moment, we still thought it would be a good place to take my brother-in-law and family to a couple of days ago. We were too early for most of the flowers, but there was enough to herald what's to come over the next few weeks, plus plenty of fresh discoveries we hadn't anticipated.

Being the Easter holidays, there were trails for my niece and nephew to follow with the promise of eggy treats when completed. We all had a fun time looking for the pictures and specially decorated trees and helping to solve the puzzles. It may have been a shorter walk for us than usual, but everything was examined in much finer detail: the colour of tree buds, what might reside in a tree's hollow, an ancient square pond, the vastness (and smell) of a badger sett. Much more rewarding as a result.

It also meant new trees to discover and admire such as the one shown at the top of this post, plus this one:

Both are Corylopsis: the one at the top is Corylopsis spicata and this is Corylopsis sinensis var. sinensis. The tree at the top reminded me a little of Garrya, but with more drama and a lightness, whereas Garrya can look rather miserable. The scent of the Corylopsis sinensis was absolutely amazing and possibly more powerful than its witch hazel cousin, though this might have been due to the size of the specimen we saw. By a spooky coincidence I found last night Robert Webber has also been waxing lyrical about the Corylopsis in his garden at the moment. They're meant to be an acid lover, but Robert has alkaline soil, very tempting...

We also found this sculpture in the woods. 4,000 wishes were tied to a nearby tree in 2003 which were then made into this seed-like bronze by an artist. It's hollow inside, so visitors have added additional wishes since then. Being nosey we pulled some of them out, expecting to find dreams of world peace and goodwill to all men. Instead I found the following:


It was our biggest surprise (and giggle) of the visit :)

13 comments:

  1. What a great surprise ending, VP! Did you add any wishes?

    We have a very small, very young C. spicata, blooming for the first time this year. I wondered how large it would get, hope it makes it to the size of the one you saw at this lovely place.

    Frances

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  2. That's a brilliant wish! Thanks for making me laugh.

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  3. Given the nature of mankind, that seems an innocent, modest, quite reasonable, but potentially boring wish!

    R

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  4. Sometimes it's the simple things in life, like a good plate of macaroni and cheese, that make us happy:)

    It's been awhile since I've had time to come over and visit, VP, and I especially wanted to see your latest edition of OOTS. Looking forward to seeing all the contributions this spring.

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  5. I have a Corylopsis Veitch which is more of an open vase shaped tree than spicata. Mine is about 5 years old and 8-9 feet (3m) tall. The fragrance is wonderful and yes, as the tree gets bigger more fragrance because it's a faint aroma, so you need more volume to catch it as you walk by. I LOVE it and bought another for the back yard...definitely much nicer than witch hazel since the old dead leaves do not hang on forever till new growth pushes them off, and I think a nicer flower. The softer yellow color is a nice accent for the purply bluebells. Acidify your soil with sulfer, conifer needles, spent coffee grounds or coir (maybe acidity isn't as important) if you need to but this is a must to have.

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  6. Oh my god you found my wish!!!!!!!!!! :)

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  7. Ha ha! A clear case of beware of what you wish for... I think after a year of macaroni cheese every day the next wish would be for a curry.
    Although I do remember on Blue Peter years ago a lad of about 15 years old who had apparently eaten nothing but baked beans his entire life. The presenters said "and he is completely healthy and normal!" Actually he looked a bit weird and anaemic to me.

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  8. Macaroni cheese - it should be a manifesto pledge; better than many we will get

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  9. Love the wish and fully agree. Mine would be ... Wish my family would agree to eat macoroni cheese just once...

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  10. Mac Cheese my speciality and my kids adored it - for whatever reason, it was always served with tinned tomatoes, peas and salt and vinegar crisps. Double the cheese in the sauce, and make sure it is eye-wateringly strong Cheddar, and of course grate lots on top, and make sure the top is chewy before serving.

    I'm a Westonbirt lover as well (am in Frome), and love a day out there - we have dogs, so it is the woods for us, but they too are spectacular, and if you can find the back entrance or the public footpath that goes thru' W'Birt, an early morning dawn chorus walk in the woods is a true treat

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  11. Elby the Beserk - welcome! Good tip about the back entrance and dawn chorus walks at Westonbirt :)

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