Birch Leaves

I think it is Silver Birch trees (Betula pendula) growing between the west end of Greenwood House and Herrison Hall, and again the other side near the east end of Redwood House. They have fine elegant drooping branches borne on a trunk with a characteristic cracked white bark. In April as the leaves begin to open there are dangling catkins too. On my evening walks I look up into the gently waving foliage and gain a sense of calm; and I like the patterns that they make silhouetted against the sky.

Horse Chestnut Flowers

Horse Chestnut trees (Aesculus hippocastanum) are a main component of the local landscape in Charlton Down and the first dramatic sight as visitors pass into the centre of the village along Sherren Avenue. One or two of these trees have succumbed to the problems of old age and been felled in recent years but new trees have also been planted, for example, to the south of Greenwood House, so that succession of these lovely trees is guaranteed into the future. After a slow start this very cold Spring, the elegant pink and white pyramidal clusters of blooms are now finally out and decorating these splendid trees.

Lime Tree Leaves

The village has many magnificent mature Lime trees, and also smaller younger ones. Their lime green heart-shaped leaves freshly opened are a delight to see, whether in the full sun of the day or the gentle evening light. They are sometimes be-decked with strange bright red growths. These are Nail Galls, a characteristic reaction of the leaf to an invasion by small mites called Eriophyes tiliae which only live in leaves of this type.

Hawthorn Flowers

Hawthorn is ubiquitous with the English countryside, particularly in hedgerows. It flowers later than the blackthorn and can look equally spectacular as the blossoms thickly cover long curving branches of the last year’s growth. David Hockney famously painted a series of works featuring springtime hawthorn wreathing the hedges that line rural roads in Yorkshire (Hawthorne blossom near Rudston). However, it doesn’t blossom if the hedges are cut back over the winter months. Locally this means that this year is not as good as last year for these small white flowers, sometimes tinged pink, which provide sustenance for so many insects, and indirectly for the birds. And subsequently this coming autumn there will be fewer berries to feed the wildlife too. It is just a fact of country life that hedges need to be trimmed to keep the growth thick near the base so that they are effective barriers, and visibility is not obstructed for motorists.

Flowing Water 1

Short video clip of the clear water of the River Cerne flowing over Water Crowfoot on the western edge of village in Charlton Down.

Water Crowfoot resembles long green tresses that wave gently in the clear flowing water of the River Cerne at the edge of the Village. I like the sound of the water undulating and burbling over the weed as it passes downstream.

White Campion

White Campion (Silene latifolia) can usually be seen around the village at this time of year and into June and July although it is not so common or abundant as its related species Red Campion.

Sunset Storm Clouds

After the rainbow the other evening, I thought the show was over, and went back to other things. But then I caught sight of the amazing display that the storm clouds were putting on as the setting sun bathed them with colour.

Evening Rainbow

We had heavy rain and hail last night with thunder and lightening. For a few brief moments after the rain had mostly stopped, a big rainbow appeared and seemed to end just among the trees at the back of Greenwood House.

Red Campion

Red Campion (Silene dioica) is a lovely bright pink spring flower which lives on grassy banks, verges, and hedgerows. It doesn’t seem to be so prolific this year as in earlier years, partly because of extensive mowing and cut-backs in the cause of tidiness, and partly because of the weather which has had more than its fair share of extremes in April and May. Here is a collection of images taken in Charlton Down – this year and previously. I hope you enjoy them, especially if you cannot get out to see them for yourselves.

Five Sycamores

Trees are such a significant feature of Charlton Down. It is difficult to imagine just how stark the surroundings must have been before the Herrison Hospital was first built back in the 19th century. We benefit greatly from their strategy to create beautiful surroundings by extensive planting of specimen trees. Some of the original trees are still standing, judging by old photographs that have been published for the site. The trees provide us with a lot of pleasure today.

I like to record the seasonal changes in the countryside and village; and trees in particular love to put on a show as they open up in Spring. This group of five sycamores at the road junction between Harrison Road and Sherren Avenue look fully mature but I don’t know exactly how old they are. Maybe they are from the original planting. I have been watching their transformation from bare branches in January through to the present in mid in May. They look so different now the leaves are fully formed. Here are some pictures showing the changes.

Five Sycamores 29 April 2021 1115