If you go down to the woods today…the chances are you won’t find bears stretched out with hampers.

If you go down to the woods today…the chances are, you won’t find bears stretched out on blankets with wicker hampers.

tilia cordata; small leaved lime

2000 year old Lime sculpture of Tilia Cordata; small leaved lime; to celebrate the coppicing of the tree. Over time new shoots will re grow covering the structure.
In the mean time it looks impressive against the late afternoon sky.
Silk Wood at Westonbirt Arboretum

We often think of woods and forests as resplendent leafy places, where light dances through leaves and the breeze skips through the shadows, preceding rich Autumnal colours that capture entire landscapes, before falling to ground and Winter sets in.
A snow covered icy woodland or forest is a magical place, where branches bow heavy under their new blanket, sound is dampened and the loudest noise besides crunchy footsteps, is your heartbeat.

But what about now? On the average dreary soggy day like today? A whole new
 World of architecture and unexpected colour, that’s what!

This Winter is the first I’ve witnessed in The National Arbotetum at Westonbirt in close up detail; I’ve had my eyes opened up to a whole new woodland usually hidden behind dresses of Summer foliage and it has to be said, there are some striking habits and colour that really stand out.

Cordifolia - means heart shaped leaves.

Rich colours on the papery bark of this Betula cordifolia (mountain birch) Cordifolia – means heart shaped leaves.

Cornus alba; dogwood red

Cornus alba; dogwood red on Broad Drive

More wonderful papery bark on Betula ermanii "Grayswood Hill"; Erman's Birch in Silk Wood.

More wonderful papery bark on Betula ermanii “Grayswood Hill”; Erman’s Birch in Silk Wood.

Approaching the dog friendly Silk Wood from the car park (the Old Arboretum area is doggy free) a fiery burst of red, gold and yellow break up the landscape.

Cornus (Dogwoods) and Hippophae rhamnoides (Sea-Buckthorn) winter colour  jumping through the fence by Waste gate on the way to Silk Wood.

Cornus (Dogwoods) and Hippophae rhamnoides (Sea-Buckthorn) winter colour jumping through the fence by Waste gate on the way to Silk Wood.

Hippophae rhamnoides (Sea-Buckthorn) berries - usually brilliant orange and faded now, collectively they still give off a gentle orange haze.

Hippophae rhamnoides (Sea-Buckthorn) berries – usually brilliant orange and faded now, collectively they still give off a gentle orange haze.

Sea-Buckthorn berries are edible, highly nutritious, incredibly bitter and oily; unpleasant to eat raw they taste much better when mixed as a drink with sweeter fruits / juices.

Growing in coastal sandy areas our ancestors would have relied on them for a Winter supply of vitamin C and essential fats.

Brilliantly dark and twisted Sea-Buckthorn trunks covered in moss.
Brilliantly dark and twisted Sea-Buckthorn trunks covered in moss.
Rotary Glade - Silk Wood

Rotary Glade – Silk Wood

Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi) on Lichen

Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi) on Lichen

"What's the time Mr. Wolf?!" ...Wood carving from Tree Fest that takes place in the arboretum over the summer months.

“What’s the time Mr. Wolf?!” …Wood carving from Tree Fest that takes place in the arboretum over the summer months.

Craft Barn in Silk Wood is made with traditional joinery methods.

Craft Barn in Silk Wood is made with traditional joinery methods.

The Craft Barn uprights are carved with words representing emotions evoked by wood.

The Craft Barn uprights are carved with words representing emotions evoked by wood.

The majestic structure and habit of this moss covered Acer cappadocicum "Aureum" is usually hidden by its leaves.

The majestic structure and habit of this moss covered Acer cappadocicum “Aureum” is usually hidden by its leaves.

Brilliant moss covered Acer cappadocicum "Aureum" (and a Canis Marmiteus...)

Brilliant moss covered Acer cappadocicum “Aureum” (and a Canis Marmiteus…)

Some very bright red & rain drenched   Cotoneaster frigidus (tree Cotoneaster) berries.

Some very bright red & rain drenched Cotoneaster frigidus (tree Cotoneaster) berries.

Stick Man Trail

Stick Man Trail

Follow the trail through the forest and make your very own stick man; help him survive!  Click here to find a Juila Donaldson / Forestry Commission Trail near you.

You don’t have to go to an arboretum to find exciting winter colour or structure; perhaps there’s something growing in your garden, local park or woodland that’s always been there; a flowering Hellebore or Viburnum bodnantense? (Winter flowering trees and shrubs do so for a lot longer to maximise their chances of reproducing in harsher winter conditions, if they were to shrivel up at the first frost like their Summer blousey relatives, that would be it, gone!).

Perhaps there are bright, textured or smooth silvery barks hidden under the Summer foliage waiting for its moment to shine in Winter?

Go on, take a closer look… .

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5 Comments on “If you go down to the woods today…the chances are you won’t find bears stretched out with hampers.

  1. Pingback: Muddy Cows and Seashells | Mellow Ground

  2. Pingback: If you go down to the woods today … an inky rendition | kleonardillustration

  3. Pingback: If you go down to the woods today … an inky rendition | Mellow Ground

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