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Bristol , United Kingdom
I'm co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Monday 8 May 2023

Bluebells and ramsons

It was in the extreme heat of last summer that I first visited Three Brooks Nature Reserve in nearby Bradley Stoke, and resolved to revisit it at a more interesting, and cooler, time of year, and since the three patches of woodland there are bluebell woods, last week seemed a good time to honour that promise. 

The wood I chose to visit was Savages Wood, which, although not particularly old itself, is believed to be on the site of ancient woodland. And sure enough, it was very different from the last time I visited, being fairly bluebell-y, with some persistent celandines and wood anemones ... 

... not to mention the odd cowslip, and ramsons (wild garlic) that are just starting to come out.

Also just coming out is the whitethorn, which is blossoming so very late this year. 

One of the nice things about Three Brooks Nature Reserve is that it has - aha! - three brooks. The one accompanying us on this visit was Patchway Brook, prior to its union with Stoke Brook to form Bradley Brook (which has a nature reserve all of its own), and it was looking particularly picturesque.  

There are also ponds providing habitat for endangered newts, which I can visit with impunity with Cwtch as she wouldn't dream of disturbing the inhabitants, not if it means getting her paws wet. This one was sporting some rather spectacular kingcups.

We also walked through Bowsland Meadow, which had been parched to a crisp the last time we were there ... 

... and made a late diversion to the community orchard, where Cwtch posed amiably for her close-up. 

This exploration was, however, sandwiched between two rather more spectacular visits to Long Wood and Hermitage Wood on Purdown, which are designated ancient and semi-natural woodland and have some outstanding trees ... as well as some new (since the last time we were there) sculptures, which are really impressive. 

Butterfly community bench

The Eagle sculpture

The Dragon Mushroom Castle sculpture

I think someone's been eating them

The Conker bench and sculpture

The Night Animals (with offering)

The Night Animals

The Acorns sculpture

The Old Man of the Woods

We might have hoped for some living wildlife, and there were definitely signs that deer had been in the vicinity, but hoofprints in mud and stripped bark was as far as it went. 

Of course, we were visiting mainly for the bluebells, which are such a joy this time of year and a balm for these difficult times we're living through. (And also to justify going out for breakfast afterwards.)

By the time of our second visit, a week after the first, the ramsons were beginning to proliferate too, particularly in Hermitage Wood ...

... although perhaps most startling was the brilliance of the new leaves.

However, what really sets these woods apart from others is the primordial feel they have, as trees rot, and in some cases, fall and are left lying like huge beasts. 

Some also become home to colonies of fungus ...   

... and a slug. 

King Alfred's Cakes and Turkey Tail

Dryad's Saddles

Turkey Tail fungus

Cwtch passing the Old Man of the Woods

Boundary stone between Bristol City and Stoke Gifford in Gloucestershire (now South Gloucestershire)

A magnificent horse chestnut

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