Following some very impressive thunder and lightning overnight, I ventured out into the Old Arboretum at first thing on Friday morning (18th July 2014) to check for any damage. All was very quiet and still, with just a few wild mammals and birds for company, before the gates open to the public and the concerts are in full swing on the Downs. I took a brief moment to appreciate how special the arboretum is in the summertime, despite 90% humidity on this occasion. Fortunately, I found only a broken branch on the giant redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) that stands alone near the big stone on Holford Ride.
On my way back to the office, I decided that today’s star of the show is definitely the Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria). Flowers are numerous and are produced in large groups or clusters in summer. Each individual flower is small and insignificant, but when most of them abort, feathery plumes are left that together can have wispy ’smoke-like’ appearance, hence the common name.
Tucked away by the Dew Pond is a work of art entitled the Westonbirt Wishes Bronze, which was created to capture the wishes of visitors back in the summer of 2003. People were invited to write their wishes on ribbons – happy, sad, funny and serious – and over 4,000 of them made up a large ball that was later cast in bronze. Although the project finished long ago, it is interesting to see that people are still putting their wishes into this hollow sculpture, and here are just two of them:
“I wish that Alex and I stay this in love forever.”
“I wish my sister would be nice to me.”