Here we are then, the final part of a look back at my photographic journey through 2017. This time we’re off on a trip to southern England before topping out the year with a snowy start to the winter.
Autumn Begins in the Garden
I added some new plants to the garden last year, to help bring a bit more colour in the autumn alongside the whites of the oxeye daisies. The new colour started in late summer with the bright yellow and red flowers of a rudbeckia hirta variety called Autumn Shades which were now in full bloom. Some other new plants included a scabious and Bishop Weed, these had both formed flower buds which hadn’t opened yet, although the stems were providing new places for hammock weaver spiders to set up home.
Wildlife Trust Reserves Guide
Back in July I had been contacted by our local Wildlife Trust (The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire) hoping to use some of my photos in their new 2017 Reserves Guide. I’m always happy to support an organisation that maintains the places I enjoy visiting, so jumped at the opportunity to donate some photos. At the start of October the guide was published and a few days later I received a complimentary copy as thanks. The four photos that appear in the guide are below and seeing them in print made me very happy!
A copy of the guide can be bought from the Wildlife Trust BCN Shop.
In October I decided to take another week off work and head down to Hampshire, where I mostly grew up, to visit my parents. This turned out to be somewhat bad timing as it coincided with both the remnants of hurricane Ophelia hitting the UK at the start of the week, and then storm Brian towards the end. Even so we managed to get out and about in the local area, some to re-visit places I’d frequented when I lived there and some to visit new places.
Forest of Bere
This is a place I know well as it’s was one of closest local woods. I’ve walked round here many times with my parents as a child, I did some WATCH (now Wildlife Watch) projects here also as a child, and I’ve cycled here on many occasions at various ages. So I wanted to go back for a walk again. There were plenty of signs of autumn to be found with the woodland floor covered in a carpet of fallen leaves, quite a bit of fungi, and changing colours on the trees.
I did make a bit of a mistake in choosing to go here on the weekend as it was very busy, especially near the main carpark which was also very noisy. Not something I’m used to on my usual home patch where I can walk round for hours and rarely encounter more than a handful of other people, even at the weekend.
Not somewhere I’ve been before, this is a nice mix of landscape garden, planted flower borders and woodland, with some brightly coloured acer trees and a miniature railway thrown in for good measure.
This was the day when ex-hurricane Ophelia was due to arrive in the South West, but after looking at the weather forecast the wind speed didn’t look particularly unusual so it didn’t seem like it would matter too much. However when we arrived it turned out they were closing just after midday before the wind was forecast to arrive. It worked out quite well though since due to the closure the entry fee was half-price, and we still managed to cover the whole garden.
As the morning went on the light gradually worsened as the dust and ash filled clouds ahead of the approaching storm started to fill the sky. This created an strange orange light which made for some unusual looking colours which can be seen in some of the previous photos.
In the lighter periods of cloud, when the sun was just about breaking through, we had a strange effect of the light looking like dawn or dusk even though it was almost midday. Here is that muted sun shining through the leaves of a red oak tree.
Another new place to me, National Trust Mottisfont is the site of an old Augustinian priory which has escaped the usual demolition and ruin due to being incorporated into a country house. Around the house lie an area of gardens made up of a few different sections, including water gardens, a winter garden and some walled gardens, which contained a nice variety of autumn flowers and colour.
An interesting item in the gardens is a restored shepherds hut, complete with how the interior would have looked when it was in use.
Having covered most of the gardens we went for a walk along the modified section of the river test which runs through the grounds, before taking look around the house. There was an art exhibition on display on the upper floors which was a nice addition, also of interest were the remains of the priory, especially the well preserved cellarium which sits below the main property.
The weather took a turn for the worse again toward the end of the week, so during a bit of a respite from rain we went for a walk along the beach at Titchfield Haven and Meon Shore. This is somewhere I visited lots of times with my parents, when I was younger. The wind was pretty strong and there was thick fog combined with occasional patches of drizzle, but we still had a nice walk.
After walking along the beach we went to visit the public bird hide at Titchfield Haven nature reserve. There wasn’t much to see due to the weather, but some gulls and great tits did put in an appearance.
Late Autumn in the Garden
As autumn started to turn to winter, the colours in the garden were still going strong. With a new scabious I’d planted earlier in the year coming into flower and being joined by the pink flowers of nerines and similarly colours berries of a spindleberry. The reds of yellows of the autumn leaves and berries also reflected in the flowers of the rudbeckias.
A Blanket of Snow
As December arrived it brought with it the first in several periods of snow fall. It’s not unusual for us to get some snow in the winter, but it is unusual for it to be this heavy. It accumulated quite quickly and combined with the red berries berries and large snowflakes made for some very Christmas card looking scenes in the garden.
That’s All For Now
A shorter part than the previous two but that completes my look back at last year, where I went, and what I took photos of. Hopefully much more to come this year and I’m going to try to find the time to blog more regularly along the way.