Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wychwood Wild Garden

A couple of weeks ago I paid a visit to the lovely Cotswold village of Shipton-under-Wychwood, a place that takes part of its name, along with a couple of other nearby villages, from the ancient forest of Wychwood.

In past centuries this forest sprawled across a large area of rural Oxfordshire, at its height in the 12th century, the forest covered some 50,000 acres. It is of course now a shadow of its former self, and since it was enclosed in 1887, 870 hectares is all that remains of the woodland that was once home to forest fairs so riotous they were eventually banned.

I was in Shipton though, not to visit the forest, as it doesn’t exist around that area anymore, but to spend some time in the Wychwood Wild Garden, while there was still some autumn colour about.

The garden probably dates from around the early 1600’s, when Shipton Court was built, but it’s not until 1797 that parts of the of garden are featured in a county map, and its present form was probably laid out in around 1860, as a pleasure garden adjoining Shipton Court.

In 1948 the garden was sold off from the court, and was managed as a general woodland until 2009, when it was offered to the local community, who acquired it in 2010. It is now owned and managed by them, and through fundraising efforts and a team of volunteers, it is open to the public all year round.

I visited just after dawn on a quiet, foggy morning, to get some shots of the woodland while there was still some colour in the leaves. I had the place completely to myself, and spent a very enjoyable couple of hours wandering the grounds, with only the birdsong and, depending where in the garden I was, the chatty babbling of running water for company.

The pathway into the woodland from Dog Kennel Lane, no doubt named
after the dog kennels that were situated there in the 1600's.
A view across Round Pond, one the 19th century additions to the garden.
While under general woodland management, some 2000 tress were planted in the last 30 years.
A jumble of leaves and branches reflected in Basin Pond, rather more overgrown and wild than its more
refined, round sister.
Looking along Dog Kennel lane, with the woodland boundary wall to the left.
An assembly of chopped wood under a small beech tree.
A lovely view along the canal, which has recently been restored from its rather dilapidated state.
Young beech trees all dressed in yellow.
Another reflection shot at Basin Pond, this time from under the boughs of the enormous Cedar of Lebanon.
Standing between the two ponds, and thought to be around 300 years old, this 40 metre giant dominates the
garden. It's very difficult to get a decent picture of it though, as it's so big. So you'll just have to imagine it.
The edge of a beech tree stand.
A close up of the richly coloured leaves.
A colourful reflection in the still waters of Round Pond.
One of the leaf strewn pathways lined with foliage of varying colours.
A final view into the beautiful woodland, at this colourful time of year.

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