Tag Archives: woodland

Wordless Wednesday: In the cool calm of Summer woodland

In the cool calm of Summer woods

J Peggy Taylor

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Mushroom close-up

Zooming out for the bigger picture

“What’s This?” was the question Cee gave us to ponder for last week’s Fun Foto Challenge. We then had a lot of fun trying to work out what other people had posted.

For my entry, I zoomed in on some natural subjects, focusing on shapes and details. This week, I promised to post the original images so you can see the whole zoomed out picture. Here they are …

1. Woodland waterfall

Miniature waterfall on a woodland stream
Miniature waterfall on a woodland stream

This is one of the many small streams (or ‘burns’ as well call them here in The North πŸ˜‰ ) that flows into the River Derwent in our local woods. I love this miniature waterfall as it cuts its way through the bedrock and pours down onto the next level below, surrounded by woodland greenery. I often find myself reaching for my camera when I see it. For the challenge, I picked out the water splash detail.

2. Hellebores in April snow in a plant pot

Hellebores in April snow in a plant pot
Hellebores in April snow in a plant pot

This is one of the two pots of the “Washfield Doubles” Hellebores I have on the steps by my back door. In this photo from April 2012, it looks like I was focusing on the quantity of late snow, rather than the plant itself! For the challenge, I chose the detail of the concentric curves of the terracotta pot, its black plastic liner and the topping of clean white snow.

3. Worm’s eye view of a woodland mushroom

Worm's eye view of a large woodland mushroom
Worm’s eye view of a large woodland mushroom

As I am not in the habit of crawling on my belly in beechwoods, you will notice this photo was taken by my son! I am always drawn to the unusual angles of this set of mushroom shots so I thought it would be perfect for the “What’s this?” challenge.

I enjoyed Cee’s photo challenge. I hope you enjoy my zoomed-out photos!

J Peggy Taylor

Three - three hedgerow trees - header

Finding Three for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

We’re looking for groups of three items for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week. I was keeping my eyes peeled as we went along on our woodland and wayside walk on this midsummer’s day – this is what I spotted:

Three - three foxgloves in flower
Three foxglove spikes, flowering in the woods

Foxgloves are definitely a sign of Summer for me. I love their spikes of purple flowers against the rich Summer greens of the woodland.

Three - three ox-eye daisies
Three ox-eye daisies flowering by a fence

These three ox-eye daisies looked much lovelier than I have managed to captured in my photo! Their sunny faces were looking up at me from beside this wooden fence.

Three - three red poppies
Three wild red poppies flowering by the field edge

The object of our walk today was to see the wild poppies flowering along the field edges. I’d planned to take more photos but the breeze had picked up again, which was better for walking uphill on a rather warm day, but was not so good for photographing poppies! Never mind – the poppies danced for us in the breeze instead, which was still lovely to see.

Do take a look at what others have found in groups of three for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Spring Shadows for Cee’s Black and White Challenge

02 Spring shadows in black and white
Spring shadows among the trees

As sometimes happens, I was browsing through some images looking for something entirely different when I spotted these two images I took when we were taking one of our regular woodland walks a few weeks ago.

01 Spring shadows in black and white
Spring shadows on the woodland floor

The woods looked beautiful in their new Spring greens but what really struck me was the way the leaves and trees were casting their shadows in the bright afternoon sun. It was quite mesmerising to watch.

Cee has given us an open theme for her Black and White Photo Challenge this week so I thought I’d share my Spring shadows with you.

Do take a look at what others have found for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Greater Stitchwort's starry flowers

Let’s find out ‘What I’m going to be when I grow up’! The plant quiz answers.

Last Monday I posed a little plant quiz here on Oak Trees Studio … the plants were mainly flowering woodland plants that had not yet quite flowered. A few of my keen-eyed readers have had some fun puzzling over the photos and trying to work out “What I’m going to be when I grow up”. Everyone correctly identified some of them and came close on others. Here are the plants in their more usual flowering glory, complete with their names.

Mystery wildflower No.1

This one was definitely going to be a member of the thistle family, but which one?

Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustra

The very spiny Marsh Thistle, growing in damp woodland
The very spiny Marsh Thistle, growing in damp woodland

We see lots of these tall and rather slender thistles growing in our damp woodlands.

Mystery wildflower No.2

The best clue I could find was its muddy habitat – this one likes its feet wet. I love its Latin name! I always think it should be a Roald Dahl character.

Brooklime Veronica beccabunga

Brooklime - the puddle flower
Brooklime – the flower that likes to grow in puddles

Here’s a closer shot of those beautiful blue – but rather shy – flowers …

Brooklime flowers
Brooklime flowers

We find lots of Brooklime growing on one of our favourite woodland paths – we call it “the muddy path”!

Mystery flower No.3

This strong-growing umbellifer with its large hairy leaves grows ubiquitously in our area, along roadsides and woodland rides. Perhaps it is not quite so common in other parts of the country, though it evidently reminded some people of other members of the umbellifer family.

Hogweed Heracleum sphondylium

Hogweed flowers with hoverfly
Hogweed flowers with hoverfly

Mystery flower No.4

This delicate woodland flower is almost bursting into flower in our woodlands now. It is a plant with two common names – it probably depends where you live as to which name you know it by. One quiz entrant named it as Wood Avens and that’s its main name in my wildflower ID book so there we are. It’s delicate bright yellow 5-petalled flowers don’t last long and soon turn into hooked reddish seedheads.

Wood Avens (or as I know it, Herb Bennet) Geum urbanum
[and would you believe it! I can’t find any photos of it just at the moment! photo will follow! … fortunately they are almost flowering now! :)]

UPDATE: 15th June 2015 ~ After our woodland wander this weekend – here are the photos I promisedπŸ™‚

Wood Avens (Herb Bennet)
Wood Avens (Herb Bennet)

Wood Avens (Herb Bennet) seedhead
Wood Avens (Herb Bennet) – red hooked seedhead

Mystery flower No.5

This was the easy one that everyone spotted. The trifoliate leaves and those fluffy pinkish buds were a give-away, weren’t they?

Red Clover Trifolium pratense

Red Clover on the Railway Meadow
Red Clover on the Railway Meadow

… and here’s a closer view of this Summer meadow stalwart.

Red Clover flower
Red Clover flower

Mystery flower No.6

This flower has those small and shiny, spoon-shaped leaves with serrated edges on quite solid, straight stems. Its flowers form as dimpled buttons then burst open with sunny radiance in late Spring and early Summer. Many people will have a version of this flower growing in their gardens.

Oxeye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare

Oxeye Daisy flowers with gorse
Oxeye Daisy flowers with gorse

We find Oxeye Daisies growing along some of our old railway paths but they are equally at home along our woodland rides too. I love their sunny flowers.

… and finally – what was that mystery seedling?

At this time of year, the large seed leaves of these tiny seedlings are just beginning to be overshadowed by the first true leaves of this popular forest friend. The woodland floor is dotted with these curious seedlings as they form a mini-forest of their own among the feet of their super-sized parents.

Beech Fagus sylvatica

Beech seedling at the foot of a Beech tree
Beech seedling at the foot of a Beech tree

… and here are our beechwoods in their cool luxurious Summer greens.

Summer Beechwoods

At the end of last week’s quiz post I mentioned how the Beech seedling’s over-sized seed leaves reminded me of an umbrella and how the leaves of the parent tree can make a useful umbrella when caught in a sharp Summer downpour. Here are our younger boys in their Beech tree ‘rain shelter’ when we were caught out in one such Summer rain storm a few years ago.

The beechwood drenching and 'rain shelter'
The beechwood ‘rain shelter’

Thank you to everyone who took part in my little plant quiz and for all your comments. It’s been fun finding the photos of the plants in flower … even though Wood Avens seem to have slipped through our usual enthusiastic level of photography of woodland wildflowers! Ah well, another trip to the woods is going to be needed to remedy that soon πŸ˜€

J Peggy Taylor

Greater Stitchwort's starry flowers

When I grow up, I’m going to be a …

As we were taking one of our regular woodland walks this weekend, we couldn’t help but see that the woodland floor is now growing abundantly with wildflowers. There are carpets of Greater Stitchwort – that’s the white flowers in my header image. I think it lives up to its Latin name: Stellaria holostea. The bright white flowers really are like myriads of little stars.

I found myself noticing not only the plants that were actually flowering, but also those that were still pouring all of their energies into growing and had yet to flower. I decided to photograph some of the yet-to-flower plants I spotted and make it into a fun quiz. Here are my woodland wildflowers.

Can you identify the wild flowers I spotted?

A fun quiz – featuring some common flowering plants you might see in UK woodlands just at the moment.

Mystery wildflower No. 1

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.1 is a spiky character, tall and lanky. The purplish tinges to the stems and leaves might help you to imagine it in flower.

Mystery wildflower No. 2

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.2 with its oval fleshy leaves. Its immediate environment might tell you where this plant likes to live and that’s a bit of a clue to its name too.

Mystery wildflower No. 3

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.3 is a very common plant of waysides and scrubland, not just in woodlands. It’s another tall-growing robust plant that’s very popular with insects, though I’m not sure about pigs!

Mystery wildflower No. 4

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.4 is one of the archetypal woodland flowers of early Summer for me, though its bright flowers are very delicate.

Mystery wildflower No. 5

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.5 is a nice easy one. Just look at those fat and fluffy flower buds ready to burst open!

Mystery wildflower No. 6

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.6 is one of favourite flowers of late Spring and early Summer. I love its clean and sunny nature.

… and finally – a mystery seedling

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

My children have always noticed these little seedling plants on the woodland floor. Those enormous seed leaves always look to me like an umbrella. Its fully grown parent makes a rather good umbrella when we’ve been caught out by a sudden Summer rain storm too.

How many of my mystery plants can you name? Please leave your answers in a comment on this post. I think all of the plants I’ve chosen have featured in previous posts on my blog … complete with their flowers. I’ll post up photos of the plants with their flowers and name them all next Monday. Hopefully I’ll be able to find the Summer rain storm ‘umbrella’ to show you too πŸ™‚

Have fun with the quiz!

J Peggy Taylor

The Gruffalo supports #YorkshireTree

Tea and Trees for the Gruffalo

Yorkshire Tree tea box poem by Julia Donaldson
Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler supporting Yorkshire Tree – will you help the Gruffalo?

In my deep dark wood I love to roam
among the trees around my home.
It’s so refreshing, mind restoring.
There’s much to see – it’s never boring.
Please raise a toast to Yorkshire Tea’s
campaign to plant a million trees!
Let’s drink more tea, then we can grow
a lot more trees for the Gruffalo!
“Who is this Gruffalo?” you say.
I’ll introduce him, if I may.

We first met the Gruffalo when our boys were very young. First, we found him lurking in the library picture book boxes. Then, as we grew to love him, the Gruffalo came to stay on our own bookshelves and was soon joined by an audio recording of the book, read by actress, Imelda Staunton, and then subsequently along came The Gruffalo’s Child too. Our boys loved these picture books. They’re wonderfully written by Julia Donaldson, with the text in rhyming couplets that just begs to be read aloud. Axel Scheffler’s fabulous illustrations truly bring the books to life.

Yorkshire Tea and teapot - Gruffalo supports tree planting campaign
Take a cup of #Yorkshire Tree

Now, the Gruffalo has joined the Woodland Trust and teamed up with Yorkshire Tea to support his beleaguered woodland habitat. Schoolchildren are helping with tree-planting not only here in the UK but also in Kenya, where some of Yorkshire Tea’s tea is grown. One million more trees are to be planted by 2020.

I like a nice cup of Yorkshire Tea myself and I couldn’t resist boxes of teabags incorporating Axel Scheffler’s Gruffalo illustrations. And then I found the Gruffalo was supporting my beloved trees! (I am a bit of a tree-nut, as some of you know πŸ˜‰ .) If you can, make an excuse to visit woods with children this Spring or Summer – your own, your grandchildren, schoolchildren, any children … and you can find some wonderful activity resources on the Yorkshire Tree website, including how to attract a Gruffalo to your woods.

Bluebell time in the woods
Bluebell time in the woods

I hope you’ll join me in drinking #YorkshireTree tea and help the Gruffalo to “stop the wood from disappearing”!

J Peggy Taylor

Autumn in the woods

Vote for your European Tree of the Year!

Do you remember back in October I was asking you to vote for England’s Tree of the Year? When all the votes were counted, in December the Major Oak in Nottingham’s Sherwood Forest was crowned as England’s favourite tree.

The Major Oak is now representing England in the 2015 European Tree of the Year contest. Why for England only and not the UK? Don’t worry, Scotland, Ireland and Wales are not missing out here, as each country has chosen its own tree.

Oak trees are my favourite tree, so I am extra pleased it was an oak tree that was chosen to be our Tree of the Year πŸ™‚

The many colours of Oak bark
So many hues, from greens to purples, in this wonderfully textured Oak tree bark

What is the European Tree of the Year contest all about?

β€œWe are not searching for the oldest, the tallest, the biggest, the most beautiful or the rarest of trees. We are searching for the most lovable tree, a tree with a story that can bring the community together.”

Now it is time to vote for our European Tree of the Year, from all of the nominated trees. As well as England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, trees from many countries across Europe are all competing for the European Tree of the Year title.

To see all of the nominated trees and cast your vote, please visit the European Tree of the Year website.

Voting closes on 28th February so please vote this week for your European Tree of the Year.

J Peggy Taylor