The winter garden at the National Trust’s Dunham Massey gives a wonderful splash of colour, lots and lots of snowdrops of various sorts, early daffodils and irises, heralds of spring. And the 500 year old oak, with one living branch, has such an intricate lived trunk.
My favourite photos from posts of 2021
My favourite wordy posts of 2021
- New Renaissance vision – 25 years on – Have we made any progress?
- If we don’t love the Earth – What then?
- Incredulous, amused, bonkers, sad, insecure – Brexit from Europe.
- Pathocracy, psychopathy and narcissism – Dysfunctional leaders.
- The gathering – COP26 failure?
Most viewed (2021)
As ever, the most viewed probably depends on the vagaries of search engines and my choice of keywords. The top two were the same as in 2020!
- Lizards in the Houston Garden (2020)
- Hips and Haws (2016)
- People of the Lie (2017) – M. Scott Peck’s book.
- Biophilia and Necrophilia (2017) – from Erich Fromm’s The Heart of Man.
- Enantiodromia (2020) – a very useful concept.
Most liked (5 years)
At least the top entry suggests that this exercise is worthwhile.
- That was 2020 on this blog (2021)
- Psychology and Astrology Models (2020) – down 1 from 2020
- Spiritual science (2021) – Steve Taylor’s book
- If we don’t love the Earth (2021)
- What is Philosophy for? (2020) – Mary Midgley’s book
A happy new year to you all!
I’m still sorting out photos from our visit to the National Trust’s Bodnant Gardens in North Wales. This stand of monterey pines (pinus radiata) is not quite as spectacular as the black pines previously shown, but they are softer and more colourful.
Monterey pines are native to California and Mexico, but are extensively planted as a wood/pulp crop.
The black pine is native to southern Europe. We found this gathering of black pines at Bodnant garden, in Snowdonia, North Wales. Bodnant lies in a sheltered valley, enabling many exotic species to flourish within this mountainous area. What really struck me was the enormous trunks extending up far and away, with just a relatively small amount of branches and leaves in the high canopy. The effect is striking, almost monochrome.
Beech trees offer wonderful shade on a hot sunny day, and the canopy is quite photogenic, in a green sort of way.
Savernake Forest, Marlborough, Wiltshire.
On a recent visit to Glastonbury we passed by two one-thousand-year-old oaks, in a lane that runs by the appropriately named Old Oaks campsite. These venerable oaks date from the time of the Norman conquests, a time when wolves and bears were still Britain’s top predators. Even the names Gog and Magog are associated with ancient myths and legends (see eg Wikipedia entry).
Sad to say, although alive when we last saw it, Gog died due to a fire in 2017. How a probably careless act destroyed this ancient being – somehow symbolic of the lack of care many modern people have for nature.
Magog still survives and flourishes, despite the decrepit aspect of parts of its trunk.
The early rape fields have been in flower for some time now, a great splash of yellow with an almost overwhelming aroma. Photographically they are rather boring; but the neat intermediate hedge gives some interest to the featured image, looking over farmed fields towards nearby woodland.
Hawthorn hedges and trees are also in full flower (‘May blossom’), giving the opportunity for the following pleasing juxtaposition.
It’s Maytime and everything is bursting into life, notably Tatton Park’s oak trees.
Tatton Park’s avenue of majestic venerable beech trees, before the leave come out, as they soon will.
The lower branches grow almost sideways, but not downward as is their wont, as Tatton’s red deer are efficient pruners.
You can still see brown leaves retained throughout the winter, typical of beech (marcescence).
The featured image could be of a swamp in Texas, but it’s actually alongside the small lake known as Booths Mere in Knutsford. We’ve known this lake exists for many years, but only recently got to see it close up, as we discovered a short stretch of the bank that is accessible.
Otherwise, it’s private land reserved for fishing. This is a great shame, as it could be a valuable local amenity for walkers. Maybe one day…
You can see a small jetty, presumably used for fishing purposes.
There are some venerable trees around the bank, this one with magnificent roots visible.
Serenaded by blackbirds on a country walk, coming up to sundown. The pattern of clouds in the luminescent sky, or archipelagoes out to sea?
Silhouettes of the living intricate skeletons of trees, soon to be bedecked with thousands of leaves.
Shot just to the left of the declining sun.
Once I was taught to write proper sentences.
With the lighter days, some shrubs are beginning to show leaf. Most trees are still bare, some with catkins, like the featured pussy willow. But now the hawthorn is coming into leaf, second only to the willow (earlier post).
Soon all will be covered in leaves, all in the rush of the new energies of rapidly increasing light, of the spring equinox.
Thank God the days are gone when dead trees were removed from the landscape, part of an obsession with tidiness that took little account of the web of life in which we are embedded. The dead tree is an ecosystem containing countless organisms and fungi, all about the miraculous job of reducing solid wood back to the soil it came from.
Our National Trust now usually leaves trees where they fall in the landscape. This one at Tatton Park was probably once a spectacular oak tree, now gracefully yet vulnerably declining back to its origins.
Thus individual life emerges from the collective, lives and flourishes, and eventually dies and returns home.
The recent spell of dry sunny weather has seen ever increasing signs of the coming of new life in the spring. Many crocuses and daffodils are already past their best. As usual, the willow is the first tree to show signs of life, while the branches of others are still bare.
This year, more than most, we psychologically need the boost of burgeoning life that comes with spring.
There is no time like Spring,From ‘Spring’, Christina Rossetti
When life’s alive in everything,
These silver birches with a dusting of snow on a grey day give a rather attractive, almost-monochrome image, emphasising their delicate tracery.
It rained all day today, never stopping as I walked around Tatton Park. It was still worth carrying the little camera in my pocket for this chance picture of pooled water on the grass, with trees, lake and grey sky in the background.
The scene was actually a bit duller than the picture looks, due to clever camera and adjustment with Paint Shop Pro.
The prominent trees are mostly oaks.
At the end of a dull grey January day, a patch of clear sky and low sun show the beauty of deciduous trees in winter.
I think these two are oaks.
Towards sundown in winter Tatton Park becomes a place of magic, with wonderful images of sky, silhouettes of trees and the lakes. The recent snow and ice on the lake gave an added bonus this New Year’s Eve.
I couldn’t decide which of two similar images to include, so here they are both.
It was salutary recently to visit the National Trust’s Calke Abbey in Derbyshire and come across the Old Man of Calke, an oak tree believed to be over 1000 years old – indeed there are two such oaks in the grounds. This tree was well established by the time of the great Norman conquering of England in 1066 and has ‘seen’ times of nearly a millennium since then, while living its majestic existence in the peace of the Derbyshire countryside.
Now that puts quite a context on the relative sound and fury of the affairs of the English since then. So many kings and queens, wars and revolts, comings to agreement and falling out with European neighbours, so little effect on this majestic being. Until the modern days, when who knows what threats climate change might mean for its continuation.