Archive for the ‘Trees’ Category


This picture of my Liquidambar was taken using my iPhone camera after rain - not a bad shot, really...

This year the grey November is lit up by three of my favourite plants, all coinciding in time thanks to the mixed-up weather we have these days.

Don’t ask me (more…)

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My favourite lime tree, whose flowers have a heady scent in July and August

Cardiff’s streets are full of lime trees (the rest of the world seems to call them lindens) and they have been on my muddled mind all summer.

There are three main species in the UK and I have been trying to work out which is which, with many wrong turns in my “investigations”. Please tell me gently if you think my (final) conclusions are wrong!

It had long troubled me (more…)

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Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne, Dorset

Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne in East Dorset, has a bit of an ancestral connection for me, although sadly not with the wealthy Bankes family, who owned the great house for more than 300 years.

My 3-great grandfather was a woodman here in the 19th century. For this reason I have put a gallery of Kingston Lacy pictures in my blog’s “ancestral places” section and this is just a short post to point to it.


Agapanthus on a sunny August day in the garden at Kingston Lacy

Today Kingston Lacy is run by the National Trust.

Please click here to come with me on a walk through the gardens on a very hot and bright August day.

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New hazel leaves (Corylus avellana)

The other evening the spring sun was low in the sky and I couldn’t resist taking some back-lit pictures of new leaves on the street trees of the city.

I have already written about wonderful autumn leaves but they are also at their most glorious when they first open in spring.


Leaves of lime or linden (Tilia)


New growth in a beech hedge (Fagus sylvatica)


Very high up, the crown of a magnificent copper beech (Fagus sylvatica purpurea) with new red leaves and flowers visible

It’s interesting seeing those flowers on the (more…)

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We always have two or three grey squirrels living in the garden and we have come to accept them as a pain but with as much right to live as the birds.


Grey squirrel in the garden, looking guilty at the damage it has just done to one of our ash trees...

But in the last month they have been behaving unusually, stripping the bark from the ash branches I can see from my window.

Are they sharpening their teeth, or just eating the bark and the pith below? This is the first year I haven’t put out whole peanuts for them, only kibbled peanuts for the birds, so are they lacking something in their diet or are their dental work-outs not rigorous enough?

After they have laid bare the white pith of the tree, bluetits are attracted to it. Is it because the moisture draws small insects?


A bluetit is attracted by the exposed pith...

All part of nature’s rich tapestry…

And here’s the answer to the mystery, from June via a comment:

Hello, your Squirrel is collecting nesting material as it’s coming into their breeding season soon, look out for several squirrels chasing 1 squirrel, the 1 at the front is the female.

The bluetit is attracted to the rising sap which will be oozing out of the damaged bark.

Squirrels bark-stripping trees can eventually kill off the tree if the damage is too great, you could try providing alternative material for your squirrel such as, straw, hay, dried leaves or even shredded paper.

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A bare oak tree in front of the Great Glasshouse at the Garden of Wales in January 2011

I have already posted my pictures of the flowers in the Great Glasshouse at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in winter. As I mentioned (more…)

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Can you tell what it is yet?

Does this remind you of anything? I spotted it at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire the other day.

The picture shows the sawn-off stump of a Polylepis australis in mid winter. And here’s the rest of the tree, rather the worse for wear after very harsh frost and snow – although it is probably adapted for the cold since it comes from the endangered mountain forests of the South American Andes…


Polylepis australis

Maybe you don’t see it yourself, but my first thought was Wall-E!


Wall-E, cute robot from the Disney/Pixar film of the same name...

I will soon be posting more pictures from the National Botanic Garden of Wales, but I felt this one deserved its own mention…

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The back of Aberglasney House from Bishop Rudd's Walk, January 2011

All is resting in the garden at Aberglasney House in Carmarthenshire at this time of year, but still a great deal of interest remains for plant enthusiasts – as well as great home-cooked local food in the little Gardeners’ Cafe!

The brassicas in the kitchen garden have survived the frost and snow well…


Curly kale in the Lower Walled Garden, Aberglasney, January 2011

But sadly the same cannot be said of the colourful but delicate Swiss chard…


Frost-damaged Swiss chard, Aberglasney, January 2011


The same Swiss chard at Aberglasney in summer

When all else fails, the bones of the trees remain…


The Pool Garden at Aberglasney, January 2011

And the dead seed heads of the herbaceous plants…


Dead seed heads, Aberglasney, January 2011

And it’s a time for the mosses and lichens to shine…


Moss on oak trunk, Aberglasney, January 2011


Yellow lichen and quartz on a wall, Aberglasney, January 2011

The stony gardens are cold…


Cloister Garden, Aberglasney, January 2011 - with lavender in the foreground

That same lavender was full of butterflies in the summer…


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Tintern Abbey, December 31, 2010

On the same dark mid-winter day that we visited Usk and Monmouth, we also went to Tintern Abbey in the lovely Wye Valley.

We are members of Cadw and get in “free”, so we always visit when we are in the area.


Tintern Abbey by the late Victorian artist Benjamin Williams Leader

It was early afternoon, but with sunset soon after 4pm at this time of year, it was already dim. It made the abbey’s stones seem more ruinous than ever but also showed up their lovely pink colour. I believe it’s the old red sandstone on which much of Monmouthshire stands and which gives the Wye its red colour.


Tintern Abbey, December 31, 2010 - the lovely soft red sandstone

Tintern Abbey was a Cistercian house founded in 1131 and rebuilt in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. It was surrendered to Henry VIII in 1536 when he dissolved the monasteries. He gave it to Henry Somerset, Earl of Worcester, who sold lead from the roof and leased parts of the area for cottages and other early industrial buildings.

The abbey regained fame in the 17th and 18th centuries when it was discovered by the Romantic poets (such as Wordsworth) and artists (such as Turner).


The arches of Tintern Abbey by JMW Turner around 1794 - the ivy seemed to be an attraction at the time but was cleared after the Crown took over the abbey in 1901

My aim for the day had been to take pictures of bare winter trees and some of these were visible from the abbey, too.


Tintern Abbey, December 31, 2010 - winter tree (beech?)

What I noticed most, though, was the hard white lichen like chewing gum patches all over the stones.


Tintern Abbey, December 31, 2010 - the white lichen on the stones looks like snow...

And the whole ruins, which have stood tall for so many centuries, looked as if they would crumble into damp rubble at any moment.


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Tree (beech?) in a field beside the red muddy Wye at Monmouth

In the dark, damp days between Christmas and New Year, once the snow had cleared enough for us to get out of the house, we went for a drive in rural Monmouthshire (my home county).

I took my camera, despite the lack of good daylight, and snapped a few odds and ends in Usk, on the grey muddy river of the same name, and at Monmouth, where the Monnow meets the red muddy Wye.


Henry V statue on Monmouth Shire Hall - he was born in Monmouth Castle on August 9, 1387 (probably) and the statue was placed on the Shire Hall in 1792


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