Friday, 23 February 2018

Trees and Snowdrops

After days of greyness and rain, last Thursday was bright and clear which was just as well as I'd planned a visit to Batsford Arboretum. I go for a walk there several times a year and there's always something exciting to see. At the moment it's the snowdrops' turn to take centre stage.

There were carpets of them everywhere, between the trees and along the streams.

They may be tiny flowers but seeing the first snowdrops is always exciting, a sign that Spring will indeed come.

The arboretum is set on a hill so it can be steep and muddy walking but there are lots of things to chance upon. This little waterfall for example.

The path runs nearly through it so you have to move quickly to avoid getting wet. Then, right at the top of the arboretum, there's a cave.

I always think that the Swallows and Amazons would have made very good use of this. They'd have had a fire lit and broken open the pemmican as soon as they found it.

There are two rather special trees that I always visit at Batsford, both with historical connections. The first is this one.

I know it doesn't look particularly exciting at the moment but this is the Anne Frank tree. During her years in hiding from the Nazis, one of the few links with the outside world was the chestnut tree that she could see from her window. She watched it through the seasons and wrote about it several times in her diary.
13th May 1944. 'Our chestnut tree is in full blossom. It is covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year.'
Anne's tree blew down in 2010 but chestnuts from it had been planted and the resulting seedlings were sent to schools and other organisations around the world. This one was planted at the arboretum by the Girl Guides who were celebrating their centenary that year. It stands on the edge of this field, with a herd of red deer for company.

Further up the hill stands this not very exciting Cypress Tree.

But this is another tree with a story. In November 1852 an Eton schoolboy was among the crowds in London watching the funeral procession of the Duke of Wellington. A cone fell from a wreath which the boy picked up and later planted at his home in Hampshire. A cutting from the tree he grew was sent to Brayfield in Buckinghamshire. Then, just over a hundred years after Wellington's death, a cutting from this second tree was planted at Batsford. Which makes this tree the great-grandchild of the funeral wreath. I wonder how many people have picked up cones to grow the next generation of Wellington's tree.

The arboretum is part of the Batsford Estate, based around this rather fine house.

This is perhaps best known as the home of the infamous Mitfords, although they sold the house after the First World War. This is the view down towards the house from the top of the hill. On the other side of the house is this rather peaceful lake (complete with a duck house on the island).

Sometimes there are black swans swimming on the lake but there were none to be seen this time.

If there's one thing I love, it's a picnic and the spot I found for my lunch had a beautiful view.

I have no idea what I was looking at but there was certainly a lot of it. It was so good to just sit and breathe in all that green-ness, even if it was a bit cold. My trusty flask of tea was much needed.

Next time I visit it will be warmer and maybe the Magnolias which are in bud now will be blossoming. 


  1. Such a treat to share in your trip around the arboretum! Thank you for sharing your pictures, and the history of the trees. Loved it!

  2. You're welcome! Nice to know someone's listening to my wittering.