Tree Connections

I’ve been wanting to write a little piece about trees for a while now, but as often the way, it’s been just another post on the to-do list. However, when our friends on BBC Gardeners’ World produced a special program dedicated to trees, I was inspired to get out my notes and to revisit that post I’ve been meaning to write.

Limes in the morning mist.

Like many other people, I’ve a long held interest and fascination for trees, and not least for the fact they can grow from the smallest wind blown seed to enormous, living and breathing structures. How they establish a root hold and adapt their growth, melding with the environment they find themselves in is nothing short of extraordinary.

A Love for Trees

In my formative years as a gardener, I can honestly say that I never thought that trees would play such a significant part. I mean, I learnt about them, planted a few, chopped bits off a few more and did my fair share of ident’ sessions, but did I really get to know and understand trees?

A backlit autumnal oak ​at Sulgrave Manor, with the setting sun right behind
A backlit autumnal oak at Sulgrave Manor

Naturally I grew up with trees all around, as most people do: trees in our family gardens and down the street, a huge conker tree in the school playground, even the Christmas tree in the corner each December. (OK, maybe that last one was a bit of a stretch!) But did I really take proper notice of them?

Garden Journal 14.12.19

Welcome! Join me here regularly to catch up on my gardening endeavours through my #GARDENINGWAYS Journal! I spend much of my time gardening professionally for Rachel de Thame at Broadwell, in Gloucestershire, and my journal updates aim to cover progress and experiences in this role, and other horticultural highlights too.

SixOnSaturday  images from my gardening ways journal for 14th December 2019
#SixOnSaturday

The above six-on-Saturday images give a flavour of my week working in a wonderful Cotswolds Garden. What follows below is a little more background for each of the pictures – merely hint at the depth and richness of each experience.

To summarise my gardening week, ‘rollercoaster’ comes to mind, especially concerning the weather and how it impacted the tasks I undertook. Days of persistent rain fused with very cool, sunny and windy ones – on the whole, I didn’t spend many hours out of wellies and waterproofs!

63 and 64…

These two stunning trees were first up in my review of a previously compiled tree survey. The nearest is a straight and true horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) with a sizeable diameter of around 1.3m.

The trunk and branches of this chestnut feature more scars than I suspect we’d find on James Bond, and my closer study suggest that for this tree and its neighbouring beech tree sidekick, it is clearly time for a more detailed inspection by an arborist. To be continued…!

East front border

Following a thorough weeding session during the previous week, I was here setting out the tulip bulbs prior to planting. The weather forecast suggested time was of the essence, indeed rain set in as I was finishing. Timed almost to perfection – almost…

An auricula theatre
Clearing the stage…

A pretty swift task all things considered, was that of clearing off and cleaning the Auricula theatre ahead of next season. It’s a recently created and very nicely built theatre, and it’s with some excitement (Plus a little apprehension!) as I look forward to programming some star performances in 2020.

Scrubbing the front step…

In theory, I’m liking my activity in the image above to that of scrubbing the front step. Prior to my starting work in the above space, the front approach, the area was encrusted in decaying foliage across much of the area. Whilst this is to be expected, and encouraged to some extent back in autumn, the dense layer was beginning to affect grass growth and hide the drive.

At last therefore, the image records the new, somewhat cleaner approach, after surplus leaves have been cleared to a new leaf mould stack – these will be recycled for mulching purposes in due course. It’s good to once again present an entrance more appropriate to such a wonderful property.

Jelly Ear or Auricularia auricle-Judaea  fruiting body
Jelly Ear fruiting body

I’m certainly no fungi expert, but noticed what I believe to be a ‘jelly ear’ fungus living quietly on a stick, and thought I’d record it as the first one on my list of fungi at Broadwell. Not particularly rare, but a fascinating form nonetheless.

Scientifically known as Auricularia auricula-judae, it apparently prefers to grow on elder wood, and is edible – although I think even the celeb’s on Ant and Dec’s program would turn their nose up if this appeared in a bush tucker trial!

The sun setting behind Broadwell Manor in the Cotswolds, sunset
The sun sets on another busy week at Broadwell.

And so to my final image, capturing the fading light and a fabulous sunset as I hurried to ‘finish’ work to the front drive.

The week was a steady yet productive one, dictated largely by the weather. But then, pretty much every gardening day is defined by its weather I guess. I’ve had many small wins as you’d say, and have on the whole continued to move forward with my ‘putting the garden to bed’ routine.

Next week, the last full working week before Christmas (!) I’ll be hitting the orchard grass hard to get this in order, boxing up dahlia tubers, and all being well, will be exploring the archaeology of the walled garden to see what can be found under foot.

You might like to observe or follow my progress on the fascinating journey via twitter @GaryWebb1 or on Instagram @Gary_Webb1

Bye for now, Gary