Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Shapes in the Woods

Down in the beech woods, trees that have grown for hundreds of years are reaching the end of life. Others are thriving still, but have formed strange shapes as scars, or as side branches twined into sculpture beneath the bark.

By the downhill path is a beech, where the figure of a man hugs the trunk and seems caught in a spell, growing into the living tree.

A rhino- like beast watches over the woodland.

In the crumbling base of a great branch, severed by age and the storms, a benign old face, like the Old Man of the Woods, peers down over a forest stream.

Ponies have chewed the bark of a younger tree, patterning and damaging.

The wounded tree will form scars and survive malformed, mapped by strange lumps and lines.

Old, dead trees might stand for years as rotting stumps. This one has marked the turning of the path for as long as we have walked here. Suddenly, this summer, it has fallen to the ground.

An ancient neighbour grows bracket fungi in its rotten core........

....while another dead tree is peppered with the holes of drilling woodpeckers. Inside its rotting hollows, insects thrive and will feed the woodland birds for years before the stump finally falls.

Out of the woods, where the air smelled damp and tinged with rotting wood, we walked away onto the hills where heather bloomed purple and fresh after the morning rain.


Kath said...

Fabulous photos! the old man reminded me of an Ent :-D

Toffeeapple said...

Wonderful images, perfectly observed. Isn't nature wonderful?

Genius Loci said...

Goodness me those are superb photos. I love how all (deciduous) trees are unique in their own way, and I am just a little bit obsessed with them at the moment. I walk under a plantation of 12 big London Plane Trees on my way to work. They have all shed their bark in different places, wonderful trees. We don't have that many Beech Trees near us, more's the pity!

Morning's Minion said...

Isn't it interesting that an injury to a tree can give it such particular character. I'm learning that here in Kentucky trumpet vine and Virginia creeper can imbed tendrils into a tree trunk [or even the wooden siding of a building] and eventually twist and alter the profile.
From your descriptive prose I feel that I can smell the damp and moudlering wood.
I wish I knew the scent of heather.

angryparsnip said...

Wonderful photos today, especially the last one.
So green and so unlike where I live that is still so hot and so sunny !

cheers, parsnip

Bovey Belle said...

What wonderful photos. Any dragons about perchance?!!

Anna at the Doll House said...

This is the stuff of trolls. I can imagine that these shapes become really scary in the moonlight.


juliette said...

Thank you for stopping over and the kind words about my blog.

To live and ride in your country - sigh - my dream. How lucky you are - please enjoy for me.

My Spotty Pony said...

Fabulous to see these magnificent old trees. Your pictures have captured them so well too. Thank you for sharing them for us to enjoy.

Crafty Green Poet said...

wonderful photos, it's amazing to see all the patterns in the trunks. Also it's great to see dead stumps being valued for the homes they offer to insects etc

Winchester Daily Photos said...

These trees are great, I can see allsorts of shapes there! Your blog makes me want to take a trip down to the New Forest!