Batsford Arboretum

A couple of weeks ago I visited Batsford Arboretum, to see their collection of trees in all their autumnal glory. I first visited Batsford two years ago in spring, when their magnolias and cherry blossom blew me away.

Views of the Arboretum




IMG_7726I was really looking forward to seeing the arboretum at a completely different, but just as beautiful, time of year – it didn’t disappoint in any way.

Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’

Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku'


Acer pubinerve

Acer pubinerve


IMG_7772It has 55 acres of natural Cotswold countryside and one of the largest private tree collections in the country with almost 3,000 tree varieties.

Ginkgo biloba



Liquidambar styraciflua



IMG_7688As soon as I stepped into the garden colour hit me from every direction. A fine Ginkgo biloba specimen was like a tower of gold, several Euonymus and Sorbus species had beautiful berries.



Sorbus pseudohupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’



Sorbus pseudohupehensis 'Pink Pagoda'

Rhus succedanea

Rhus succedaneaA small woodland area primarily of beech trees (Fagus sylvatica) was very dramatic with a carpet of russet brown leaves on the ground, mirrored in the leaves still hanging in the trees.

Woodland area



More acers


IMG_7652The acers truly stole the show however. From a distance every pathway was lit with a splash of red, orange or gold, as I got closer I realised every tree was an acer! Some trees looked like they were on fire in the sunlight.

Acers again




IMG_7740I became so inspired I even wrote a quick poem! I have a lot of scribblings in my notebook that I haven’t typed up yet. . . here’s the one I wrote at Batsford:


blood red ‘Bloodgood’

foliage flickering flames

even on the greyest, dankest of days

your colour doesn’t wane

it burns, brighter and brighter

reds and golds

chasing the cold away

a light of life

on this autumn day.



Last few acers


IMG_7769The arboretum was a truly sensational display of colour, I always think autumn is the farewell party nature throws until spring. . . and everyone’s invited. I hope you enjoyed the photos. 🙂



Plant of the Week – Euonymus europaeus

First written and posted on 12th November, 2013. Please click here if you would like to read the original post on This and That.

The plant that is in the limelight this week is the common spindle tree, Euonymus europaeus. This grows like a weed in the hedgerows and banks in my home of Devon and I’m pleased to say I see it everywhere in Hertfordshire too! I love the striking combination of orange and pink that it displays in autumn, most of you have probably seen it around without realising what it is. I hope you enjoy this weeks’ plant profile! 🙂

Euonymus europaeus

Genus: Euonymus

Species: europaeus

Family: Celastraceae

Common name: Spindle

Translation: From the Greek euonymos meaning “of good fame” or “lucky”, or from “Euonyme” the mother of the Furies in Greek mythology, thus a reference to its poisonous nature. The Latin europaeus meaning “European”.

Type of plant: Shrub

Origin: Native to the United Kingdom

Technical details

The ideal growing conditions for Euonymus europaeus are full sun or partial shade, in an exposed or sheltered position with chalk soil.

Soil: Euonymus europaeus thrives in most soil types and pHs, including: acid, alkaline or neutral: and chalk, clay, sand or loam. They are particularly at home on chalk.

Resilience: Very hardy, has high resistance to frost and wind.

Propagation: Propagation is easiest by seed or semi-hardwood cuttings.

Cultivation: Euonymus europaeus is a familiar plant which is seen wild in our British hedgerows, one of the most colourful, native shrubs around. It is fast-growing and bushy, sometimes making a small tree instead of a shrub. It is best known for its fantastic display of autumn colour, with green stems and an abundance of scarlet capsules that open to reveal orange-coated seeds. It is a popular choice for informal and cottage gardens and perfect for hedges and rough country screening.

Pest and disease problems: Euonymus europaeus is prone to caterpillars and vine weevils, and can sometimes be affected by powdery mildew. Euonymus europaeus

Interesting Facts

1. All species in the genus Euonymus have a high toxicity level. The poison is present throughout Euonymus europaeus, the berries the part which causes most harm. Symptoms appear up to twelve hours after ingestion and include: diarrhoea, vomiting and stimulation of the heart. Larger doses can cause hallucinations, loss of consciousness and symptoms similar to meningitis.

2. William Turner is known as the father of botany, mostly because of his book “A New Herbal” published in the 16th century. In it, he gives the name “spindle tree” to Euonymus europaeus because he says he cannot find an English name for it so the Dutch name “spilboome” may as well be used.

3. The yellow dye obtained by boiling the seeds of Euonymus europaeus was used for colouring butter.

4. The flowers of Euonymus europaeus are pollinated by flies.

5. In some parts of Africa the juice of Euonymus europaeus was used as an arrow poison.

6. Euonymus europaeus acts as the winter host to two important crop pests: the black bean aphid (Aphis fabae) which feeds on field beans (Vicia faba) and sugar beet (Beta vulgaris), and the peach potato aphid/green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) a widespread pest of a large number of crops. Despite removal of Euonymus europaeus from hedgerows and woodlands in the past, its present populations are still stable.

7Euonymus europaeus can reach six metres in height if it is left to grow freely.

8. The wood of Euonymus europaeus is hard and was often used for making tool handles, including textile spindles.

9Euonymus europaeus has been introduced to North America where it has become an invasive species in some areas.

10. A cultivar of Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’ has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, meaning it is a plant of outstanding excellence.

Euonymus europaeus drawing

Visit to Kew

First written and posted on 8th November, 2013. Please click here if you would like to read the original post on This and That.

Last weekend I visited the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to see my friend Neville and to look round the gardens of course! Nev is a student on Kew’s three year long Diploma course, he is working full time and studying like mad but he still made time to give me a guided tour of the gardens, which were as amazing as ever.

Me and Nev!

There was a display of pumpkins in the Waterlily House, done especially for Halloween. It was strange seeing it looking so different from when I had last been there, in the summer! The glasshouses had the usual variety of exotic plants, my favourites were two Hibiscus flowers. The outside grounds were just spectacular, the arboretum was full of autumn colour – Acers, Photinias, Fagus sylvaticas, Liquidambars and many more trees and shrubs were at their best. I took plenty of photos, I hope you enjoy the selection! 🙂

Bed of grasses

Bed of grasses

Hibiscus “Orange Beauty”

Hibiscus "Orange Beauty"



Pumpkins outside the Waterlily House

Pumpkins outside the Waterlily House

Salvia border

Salvia border

 Arbutus unedo, the Killarney Strawberry Tree

Killarney Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo

View from the Treetop Walkway

View from the Treetop Walkway

Photinia tree


Shots of the trees in the arboretum