Seven members stayed on the coach to Tatton Park, some to see the deer, but my goal was the garden, to look at the trees and learn some of the rarer ones.
On the lawn of Charlotte’s Garden was a new one for me, a Snowbell Tree Styrax japonicus with pretty little hanging fruits about half an inch long.
Near the Golden Brook pond was this magnificent Swamp Cypress, Taxodium distichum, which is the tallest in Cheshire at 24 metres high (nearly 80 feet). In its native swamplands in the Mississippi valley it has evolved to produce aerial roots or “knees” (properly called pheumatophores) to assist the aeration of the roots which are permanently underwater.
There was a very attractive young Sawara Cypress Chamaecyparis pisifera in the arboretum, of the variety “Filifera Aurea” with golden thread-like leaves.
Not many trees have turned their colour for the autumn yet, but the Maples rarely let us down. Here is a Downy Japanese Maple Acer japonicum “Aconitifolium”.
I don’t remember seeing a Western Hemlock Tsuga heterophylla before, although they are common enough in large gardens. I will remember these down-pointing cones, which are about 2 -3 cm long (an inch).
An old Sweet Chestnut Castanea sativa on the lawn at the back of the house had magnificent spiral ridges on its trunk.
Also on the house lawn was a Silver Lime, Tilia tomentosa, or as the sign said, a Silver Linden. The leaves are green above (or brown now) and whiter beneath. Distinctively, they are all uneven, with the base deeper on one side, and the leaf stalks apparently all angled to the short side (although the illustration in Mitchell has it angled to the deeper side.) But this one will be relatively easy to identify again.
The Manna Ash Fraxinus ornus had turned yellow, and its foliage looked lovely against the background of darker conifers.
The flower gardens were still in bloom, and there were still pink Sweet Peas in the kitchen garden. Near the garden exit there were butterflies on a sunny floral border, a Large White, a Small Tortoiseshell and this lovely Comma.
If you are interested in the wildlife of the north-west of England and would like to join the walks and coach trips run by the Merseyside Naturalists’ Association, see the main MNA website for details of our programme and how to join us.