Saturday, 22 June 2013

Charlecote Park

I've been suffering from blogger's block. Actually that isn't strictly true as I've begun a couple but was so dissatisfied with my efforts that I aborted them. Try again. 

On a blustery but mercifully dry day Chris and I visited Charlecote Park. For curiosity I decided to use the sat-nav app on my smartphone; the result was a tour of west Northants and East Warwickshire, with a bit of north Oxfordshire thrown in. I didn't employ the device for the return journey! Anyway, we eventually arrived at our first destination: the market on the old airfield at Wellesbourne. I'd remembered it as being colourful and full of interesting bargains but today all I saw was a load of unmitigated tat. I was glad to leave and move on.

Fallow Deer at Charlecote. 22 June, 2013
Charlecote Park is only a couple of miles away but what a contrast! The house is very handsome and the gardens beautiful. In my curmudgeonly moments I remind myself that houses like this were constructed by direct descendants of the Normans, people who had stolen, murdered, burnt and pillaged their way across England in the fight for power - but the results are undeniably lovely. A fairly large herd of fallow deer grazed in meadows beside the River Avon. They were very approachable but I preferred to leave them at peace and photograph them from a couple of hundred yards.

A fungus, probably Laetiporus sulphureus.
Charlecote Park, 22 June, 2013
The gardens contained some impressive trees and one conifer was supporting a fine example of a  Laetiporus species, probably Laetiporus sulphureus, commonly known as "Chicken of the Woods". As will be deduced from its common name, it is edible, but some people suffer a mild reaction after eating it, so it should be used with caution. It will develop into a brown rot and ultimately lead to the death of the tree, but I hope it will be left for a few years.

An Aquilegia in the herbaceous borders took me back to my childhood. Plants of this type, belonging to the McKana group, were grown by my father but I don't often see them nowadays. There is no reason why I shouldn't grow some myself of course and I must keep my eyes open for plants.

Aquilegias in the borders at Charlecote Park.
22 June, 2013
I was impressed too by specimens of Cornus kousa. In common with Hydrangeas (to which they are unrelated) they have inconspicuous flowers but instead have very showy bracts. 
Known as the Chinese Dogwood it prefers dappled shade in neutral to acid soil. The leaves often take on fine colours in the autumn, and I suspect that these colours are more vivid where the soil is particularly acid. The fruits are edible although, as with Chicken of the Woods, I've never heard of anyone actually trying a sample! 

Cornus kousa at Charlecote Park. 22 June, 2013

All in all an interesting day - but I'll do my own navigation in future!

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