Pretty pretty flowery stuff

Well my dears, Spring has certainly sprung. It was positively balmy here is deepest Yorkshire today and so Sigoth and I ventured out in the afternoon to Castle Howard Arboretum. The Arboretum is linked to Kew and comprises 120 acres of tree-filled landscape including guest trees from around the world. We last visited in the autumn and I wrote about it at the time because the berries were in full, well, berriness, and I was slightly in love with them.

blossom and daffs

Well, today was about sunshine and birdsong and bunnies and blossom. It was so warm we wandered the hillsides for over two hours without coats! Given that over the weekend we had the central heating on all day it was quite a shock to the system. Even the drive over was filled with sparkling light, fields of lambs, and views freckled with flowers and blue, misty hillsides punctuated by blazes of brilliant hawthorn hedges and golden oilseed rape searing the eyeballs as we bowled along the lanes.

Even though it’s school holidays at present the Arboretum was not over-run with people. We strolled in and started with a wander around the lake before heading up to the woods and sandy hillside where the rabbits live. We sat for a while soaking up the sun and listening to the birds before making our way back to the boggier, clay area. Somewhere in the midst of all this arboreal loveliness there is also a newly constructed cruck house.


It’s a useful shelter if it is raining, with a wooden bench around the wall, carefully sculpted to caress the weary buttocks. The hollowed out depressions are generously proportioned for the more substantial posterior; at least I can only assume so because I had plenty of space and am hardly wispy. It wasn’t the place to linger today though, with free vitamin D being distributed outside. However the plaque giving further information was worth a quick scan, informing us that cruck houses came about in the medieval period because they rain out of large trees. In Shakespeare’s day it was a hanging offence to cut down the largest trees, which meant that poor people were stumped (geddit) for building materials until they swiftly realised they could use the trees by rivers, which tended to grow on an angle. They cut them down, split them in half along their length and had a pair of matched wooden frames. Because these were so valuable, people would dig them up and take them with them if they moved, and allegedly this is the source of the saying “to up sticks” meaning to move home.

After that, all the sun and plant life went to our heads and we were drunk on the gorgeousness of the universe and the moistness of the home-made fruit cake in the cafe. So we went to the plant centre and bought some aquilegia for the garden. Well, it would have been rude not to.

How are the seasons treating you these days?



I like trees. So I don’t understand why I have never visited the Yorkshire Arboretum before.

However, EBL is not an entity to let history stand in her way and without further ado Sigoth and I hied ourselves thither recently to investigate.


The Yorkshire Arboretum is not far from EBL Towers, at Castle Howard (that’s “Brideshead” to non-locals). It is set in 120 acres of land by Castle Howard, half the site being clay and the other half sandy soil. This part of the world has interesting geology, being on the edge of Lake Pickering, a glacial run off from the Ice Age which only drained a few thousand years ago.

berry collectionIn any case, this variety of soil (much of which clay was transported liberally around the grounds on our boots) means that there is an astonishing variety of trees to look at. We saw all sorts of berries on various Sorbus: red, white, orange, pink. So pretty.


We also met trees with pink or white trunks, adding a little variety to shades of brown and grey. Sometimes the neutrals need to spice it up a bit!


Now, I don’t know what you read as a child but I was a devotee of the Narnia stories, and the proud owner of a boxed set of all seven books. One of the things I learned from those stories (apart from the fact that Evil means “always winter and never Christmas”, too  much Turkish Delight is not good for you either physically or morally, and especially when served en sleigh, and that hiding in wardrobes does not always guarantee the appearance of a portal to a magical world) – apart from those things which are of course true, I learned that trees have spirits. I even learned they are called dryads. I was particularly honoured to meet one at the Arboretum.

yorkshire dryad

The café was a welcome finale to our wanderings. I really can’t understand why we have never been before!

May you wander happily where it pleases you, and wipe the mud from your boots with contentment in your hearts.