We’re in England. We’ve been here nearly three weeks, and so busy catching up with Those Twins in Bolton and friends in Yorkshire that blogging has quite simply not been on my agenda. But here we are in South Gloucestershire with daughter-in-law’s parents: there should be a name for this particularly satisfying relationship as it’s one we enjoy and appreciate.
On Friday they took us to Westonbirt Arboretum. If you’re spending a few days round Bristol and Bath there’s no better place to recharge your batteries. You could pass the morning in the Old Arboretum, a carefully designed landscape dating from the 1850’s. There are something like two and a half thousand varieties of tree – 16,000 specimens in all, from all over the world, planted according to ‘picturesque’ principles of the 18th and 19th centuries, offering beautiful vistas, enchanted glades and stately avenues. After a light lunch in the on-site restaurant you could go on to explore the Silk Woods an ancient, semi-natural woodland, or the grassy meadows of the Downs
It was Robert Holford who designed and encouraged the planting of the Arboretum, back in the mid 19th century. This was a period when plant-hunters were bringing new and exotic species back from their world-wide travels. Holford was able to finance some of these expeditions, and the Arboretum contains many of the specimens his scientific adventurers brought back.
Truly, it’s a magical place. We arrived, let out a collective sigh, and simply allowed stress and worry to fall away. Strolling about, we gazed upwards at trees whose end-of-summer leaves seemed to be fingering the clouds, into copses where we could glimpse others already turning to the ochres and russets of Autumn, and then closely at the trees themselves. It was the bark that caught our attention close up. Smooth and silvery, brown and knobbly, grey and wrinkled, the variety astonished us. Take a look at these. And if you get a chance to visit this Arboretum, at any time of year, then take it.