BGs’ Trip to Winkworth Arboretum

Are our BGs drinking wine?  No .........

Are our BGs drinking wine? No ………

About a dozen of us went to Winkworth near Godalming on a fine but grey day, which brightened up as it went on.  We met at the Beech Village Hall and went in 4 cars with our pic-nic lunches.  Our tour started at 2.30 and this very nice gentleman called Peter strolled us around for a couple of hours telling us all about the history of Winkworth and its plantings.

Pic-nic time at Winkworth

Pic-nic time at Winkworth

The History was very interesting and our guide told us how Dr Wilfrid Fox, a Neurologist bought the wooded valley and its lakes in 1937 to use as a blank canvas to paint a picture of the hillside down into the valley below.  He designed it to look up at from the valley floor below, which he called Badgers Bowl.

For 15 years Dr Fox used Winkworth to experiment with different tree species and planting styles.  In 1952 he gave this land to the National Trust and still you can see the stunning combinations of colour with every season.  We ambled about the paths with our guide whilst he named trees and shrubs for us.  There were Acers, some green, some turning yellow and some already red and purple.  He explained to us about the chlorophyl draining out and the sugars taking over to turn the leaves red.  We stood at the top of the escarpment looking down towards the lake in the distance, peeping between the trees – see below right.

Looking down the escarpment to the lake

Looking down the escarpment to the lake

We passed Acers, Witch hazels, Mahonias, Scots pine, Pseudo Acacias and Magnolia Grandifloras, all along the escarpment, all the time admiring the view across to the Surrey Hills.  There were Sweet Chestnuts, Whitebeams,, Escalonias, Copper Beech and then the amazing Fastiniate Beech and Oak standing upright and columnar, looking just like Poplars.

Humming Bird bench

Humming Bird bench

We reached the benches carved by experts with chainsaws – the Humming Bird benches in a clearing where they hope to plant the sort of shrubs with flowers that humming birds would like. There was a Fox bench, named after Dr Fox, and nearby a memorial to him.

Our guide pointed out some Liquid Ambar trees, Silver Birches and a Southern Beech from Patagonia.  We reached the viewing platform which looked right down into the Badger Bowl below.

Observation Platform

Observation Platform

The platform had been built in the middle of an old oak tree until a gale blew the oak apart and we saw it lying on the ground. Luckily it did not damage the platform at all.

We carefully took the steep steps down the hillside to the Badger Bowl below and there were more Acers, Whitebeam, Liquid Ambar and a table in the shape of a “60” to celebrate the 60 years in 2012 since Dr Fox handed over Winkworth Arboretum to the National Trust – see below.

The "60" bench

The “60” bench

We looked back up the hillside and there was the look-out point amongst the trees – see below right.

The look-out platform high amongst the trees

The look-out platform high amongst the trees

There was a Monkey Puzzle tree and further on there was the boat house, a Georgian timber building nestling on the bank of the lake.  The lake had been excavated in the 1890s.

The lake from the boat house

The lake from the boat house

Our guide pointed out the Azalea steps going up the hillside where Azaleas are planted.  In the Spring it is a magnificent sight to walk up this long flight of steps.  He showed us the Gunnera area, which was planted with just a few specimens and now is a huge mass of enormous leaves.

We trudged up the Azalea steps and looked back at the wonderful view.  The sun had come out by now and was really lighting up the yellows of the trees.  Beautiful.

Our guide told us that in Winter, when all the leaves are off the trees, the Holly Wood comes into its own, and the Camelias are a wonderful show.  The Witch Hazels are a picture too with their delicate, fragrant flowers near the entrance.

Below right is a photo of the BGs climbing manfully up the Azalea steps on our way back to the entrance and a cup of tea and home.

The BGs climbing up the Azalea steps

The BGs climbing up the Azalea steps

Below is a gallery of all the photos – as you can see it runs over 4 pages – hope you don’t get bored – I do get carried away with wonderful trees and views –

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