Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Autumn at Winkworth Arboretum (National Trust)

Winkworth Arboretum is National Trust-owned woodland, in Surrey, near to Godalming, and is famed for its fall foliage, mainly thanks to numerous species of maple amongst its collection of more than 1,000 different shrubs and trees, many of which are rare.

Although Autumn is its busiest time, it has planting for every season, with a Winter Garden (with Witch Hazel flowering in early January, followed by Camelias and Mahonias until April).

Its Bluebell Wood displays a carpet of blue every Spring, at which time the Magnolia Wood, cherry blossom and azaleas should also be in full blossom.

There is also a Holly Wood, with about 40 different types of ilex (such as this yellow-berried variety), with berries deep into the Winter.

Winkworth Arboretum is set in a wooded valley with Rowe's Flashe Lake at the bottom, overlooked by a rustic boathouse (there was a second lake, but it is now a wetland area through which there is a boardwalk made from recycled plastic bottles).

It was laid out as an arboretum by Dr Wilfrid Fox (a noted dermatologist) from 1937. He lived on the adjoining Winkworth Farm, and acquired part of the Thorncombe Estate to create the arboretum.

In 1948, he was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's highest honour, the Victoria Medal of Honour.

He gave part of the arboretum (62 acres) to the National Trust in 1952. The trust later acquired another 35 acres.

They often run activities for kids – a recent activity day included displays of archery, birds of prey and chainsaw carving, like this carving of a fox (below - one of three built into a wooden bench, to commemorate the garden's founder, Dr. Wilfrid Fox).

There is a narrow area known as Sorbus Hill, where the mountain ash (above) and hornbeam grow, full of berries and some autumn colour (although not as spectacular as the maples).

The lake seen from Sorbus Hill

The view from Sorbus Hill over Winkworth Farm

Nyssa sylvatica lends vibrant colour to this view

The tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) tree likes acidic or neutral soil, and offers splendid autumn colour, from yellow, through orange to deep red.

Autumn hues range from the pink-tinged yellow (deepening to red) of Acer palmatum Katsura (above), to the deep yellow of golden whitebeam, the russet browns of the beech (below), the large bright orange leaves of the Oregon maple, the bronze and crimson of the Chinese dogwood, and the purple and scarlet of the Japanese maple.

Enkianthus perulatus (above and below) was one of Dr Fox's favourites. 
It glows as dusk descends.

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