Back online with a zippity doo dah computer, as far as the eye can see Vista windows and a bigger high-res screen which makes everything smaller. Rather like Alice, am adjusting to new perspectives, virtual hues and being momentarily without photoshop, summoning Picasa’s magic for some wonderland montages.
“We’re walking in the air
We’re floating in the moonlit sky”
With temperatures on a recent remarkable rise, it’s hard to credit that only a week or so ago we were in the grip of a Siberian cold front. The travel and weather predictions had been dour when I journeyed out of London but the runes were wrong and even the trains ran on time. In the snowscapes of Surrey, leaden skies and a moody morning moon were soon polished off with crisp blues and whites that gave the winter trees of Winkworth a sharpened sense of being in their element.
Surrey is the most wooded of the English counties and so the arboretum with its tree walk plateaux, shrubby slopes and lake-bottomed valley seems nothing much more than a tweaked environment. Nevertheless it belies a very personal and passionate collection of a wily dermatologist, Dr Wilfred Fox, some 80 years ago. Most of the 1000 specimens are spectacles for either Spring or Autumn, some are quite unique and rare but an arboretum is much more than an arboreal zoo. In a winter landscape, the pace is slower with spaciousness to view the structures, textures, juxtapositions and whole assemblage of Winkworth as a mosaic.
Of course there is always one or other tree to attract attention and for me it was the Coigue (Nothofagus dombeyii). This Chilean giant displayed its ruddy tones in dappled light, accentuating the fissures of bark and drawing the eye high up into the canopy. Wide-reaching flattened branches bear lustrous semi-evergreen, small serrated leaves which seem somewhat incongruous on such an enormous armature. At base the dense leaf litter is reminiscent of beech woods and pinpoints the distant Fagaceae family resemblance of this champion Southern Beech of Surrey county.
Notions of a ‘Winter Garden’ conjure eternal evergreens and the sweetest of Mahonia, Jasmine and Sarcococca scents. By contrast, the subtler, vanilla fragrances and sorbet hues of mature Witch Hazels give rise to visions of a citrus grove. Spidery flowers of Hammelis trees, hanging out their ribbonned petals, are surely the cheeriest of winter celebrants, especially as displayed here, in a copse that can be viewed from an interior.
I have to own that half the fun of the day was crunching through the white depths, despoiling the virginal patches with a line of footprints and relishing the textural contrasts and topsy-turvy world of snow. A seat too cold for posteriors to tarry and enjoy the views, supine hosts of daffodils and bunnies with attitude in the brackeny breaks.
There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow. It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every blade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance. ~William Sharp
Thanks to my sister Ceri for a well-wrapped sojourn around Winkworth arboretum, when not even a dog walker was stirring. Memories are made of this…
…and montages were made for a return to the warmth and creativity of Little Red House’s Mosaic Monday.
And last but not least – am very grateful to my son Simon for a new computer set-up and the confirmation that sometimes speed is of the essence.