When my sweetheart described the woods near the Entwistle reservoir as temperate rainforest, I was taken aback. Rainforest sounds like something you’d have to travel thousands of miles to see rather than walk less than four miles up the road.
Our moist, cool, steamy climate encourages mosses and liverworts, lichens, fungi and ferns to creep over trees and boulders. The Irish sea keeps conditions mild enough for these ancient plants to thrive through summer and winter.
Having grown up scrambling through the wooded valleys of the moors, the Tolkienesque character of this type of landscape is as familiar as the open moorland over the hill. Wild orchids grow further along the path that heads from this spot towards an outcrop of rock called Fairy Battery; follow Cadshaw Brook and you may surprise a fallow deer grazing near Entwistle reservoir. Continue reading
Our landscape architect friend, Rick Griffin, says that the best way to add personality to a house is by doing something a bit special at the entrance. I like visiting Shrewsbury – I’ve written about it before – but of all the wonderful places there, the one I’d most like to receive an invite to is this private house. I know nothing at all about the people who live there, but by looking at their gate (plus a few peeks over their garden wall) I’ve formed an impression about them. Continue reading
Taking pictures of tree canopies is not that easy with an iPhone, but blue sky, branches and tree leaves have a magnetic effect on my attention, so I keep on trying.
And I’m happy with this one. I have no idea where it was taken. Though I could hunt through my files and find out, it really doesn’t matter. It’s not about the place, but the feeling. For me, this tree neatly wraps up natural beauty, abstract pattern and an emotional experience all in one. It’s uplifting. It rewards the eye that lingers and traces out a few of the branches. Continue reading
This picture was taken on an alternative version of our Pie walk. My eye was taken by the effect of the colours and the horizontal and vertical lines. The setting sun’s dim, winter light simplified the scene, adding an unusual atmosphere. Continue reading
I think I’m in love with a small tree. Pink might be stretching a point – would apricot-pink be more accurate? Either way, it’s a striking colour for a tree – perfect for growing in a winter garden, when the bark and branches come into their own. Continue reading
We set off for Harrogate on a whim, inspired by the weather forecast, and booked into a hotel within walking distance from the RHS’s most northerly garden, Harlow Carr, a favourite haunt. The idea was to wake up next morning to find an artistic covering of snow or a hard frost – the added winter garden ingredients only nature can provide.
The forecast had been an exaggeration but, luckily, it turns out that a winter wonderland doesn’t need snow: it can cloak itself just as wonderfully in reds, oranges, browns and greens.
We were too early to see the thousands of snowdrops, cyclamen, irises and eranthis hyemalis that will be at their peak in February and March. A small number of the advance guard could be spotted in flower in the woods, along the Winter Walk or sheltered in the glasshouse, giving a hint of the pleasure to come. But if you find yourself wondering whether a winter garden really has anything much of interest to offer in January, other than peace, you’ll find plant after plant lining up as if to say: ‘You misjudged me. You doubted there would be colour.’
This Southern live oak tree (Quercus virginiana) seemed almost too big to fit on the camera screen, silly as that seems. I had planned to crop out the people, but rethought the shot because they give a sense of scale. Their placement doesn’t comply with the rule of thirds (rule of thirty-thirds, perhaps) but then my pictures rarely do. Continue reading