woodland floor + something personal
April 26, 2010
Guestling Woods in soft morning light – a magical moment. Rather a pilgrimage for locals to catch the first glimpse of carpets of wind flower (Anemone nemerosa).
Wind flowers tell us that spring is really here – they follow primroses, the first sign of spring, and have to work in a rush! Such a delicate flower whose heads only raise up in strong light must flower, pollinate and set seed before foliage on the canopy above dims the light on the woodland floor.
Anemone nemerosa are native woodland carpeters in deciduous woodland. They must have leaf mould and as much light as possible to do their cycle. Signs of Viola odorata along the path . . .
. . . they prefer edges . . .
. . just to look again close up and see the the frothy May green foliage that grows in hummocks . . . soon the bluebells will overrun this woodland . . .
. . Guestling Woods are managed by the Woodland Trust . .
. . this is part of an ancient woodland with oak as the dominant species and sweet chestnut stooled for its timber . . .
. . . on the outer edges birch are seen . . . very beautiful whitish stems with the anemone + so many lessons for the designer – it’s all about simplicity . . .
. . in certain areas there is no groundcover and the multi stemmed trees look sculptural . .
. . it’s a surprise to see the mossy base to the trunk as moss and leaves don’t get on well together usually . . .
. . this is the typical use for the chestnut and oak – a two rail Sussex fence.
At this time of year I naturally think of Edward Thomas and this poem:
IF I should ever by chance grow rich
I’ll buy Codham, Cockridden, and Childerditch,
Roses, Pyrgo, and Lapwater,
And let them all to my eldest daughter.
The rent I shall ask of her will be only
Each year’s first violets, white and lonely,
The first primroses and orchises–
She must find them before I do, that is.
But if she finds a blossom on furze
Without rent they shall all forever be hers,
Codham, Cockridden, and Childerditch,
Roses, Pyrgo, and Lapwater,–
I shall give them all to my elder daughter.
My father was very partial to Edward Thomas and especially ‘If ever I should grow rich’ . The places mentioned are villages in Essex near Ingrave and Herongate where he lived for quite a while. The landscape there is very different although the major species are oak and sweet chestnut but I can’t recall from childhood what was happening on the ground in Spring.
Just a quirky ending to this trip to the woods . .
. . at the exit, what appeared to be a pagan symbol was causing comment. After all May Day looms and all that Green Man stuff!