Saturday, 2 May 2015

The ubiquitous gum

I've frozen my socks off this afternoon, on the first training session this year for the conservation volunteers.  We've been in Binning Wood.  As I have said here before, not my favourite wood, and today it didn't endear itself to me any more, and nor did I expect it to!  But the focus of the visit was to learn about the botany of plants.  It was a really good session, and absolutely fascinating, as we inspected the distinguishing features of the daisy, germander speedwell, dog violet, wood aven, dandelion, a few grasses, and other wild flowers brave enough to flower on this very cold day. The diversity in design of plants is truly awesome. 
Here we are inspecting a strand of immature cocksfoot grass.  There are so many features to look at, it took some time.  Meanwhile the cold wind whipped off the field behind us, as we stood on the edge of the wood.  In between marvelling at the wonders of nature, I was also thinking about the mug of tea and piece of apple cake I made yesterday, that I was going to have when I got home!
One of the things I really look forward to, when I am in Australia, is getting back to the wonderful variety of trees we have in the UK.  Many apologies to my Australian friends, but I do find the overall grey of the numerous varieties of eucalyptus - gum trees - to be very monotonous.  I love their bark, it's varied and interesting, but the colour of the canopy offers me little.  So, I did a double take this afternoon, when I saw a branch bearing familiar shaped leaves and eucalyptus seed heads lying on the ground.  For a millisecond I was transported back to the Australian bush!  The bitterly cold wind was a bit of a reality check, and I looked up and saw a small plantation of gum trees, in amongst the trees of Binning Wood.  The trees had that distinctive lean, and grey foliage. They are graceful trees, but I just think they look out of place in our woods.  Sorry gum trees!

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