Winter Woodland – Part 2

In part 1 I focused on looking up at the tree canopy in Swithland Wood. In this section we turn our eyes down to look at the woodland floor. In some ways the woodland floor is more vibrant in winter as it is not shaded by the tree canopy. Although slow, the woodland continues to grow throughout the winter.

Some people say that a managed wood should be kept tidy and fallen trees like this cleared away. However, once a tree is fallen it becomes a vital to host to many other species which are vital to the diversity of the woodland. Here we can see some moss enjoying the winter sunlight.

Fallen and decaying trees are often the best place to look for the fungi which likes to feed on the decaying wood. It is worth noting that fungi can be found all year round and not just in the abundant autumn.

Another species which is easy to ignore is the lichen which can be seen on both fallen and live trees. There are many fascinating textures and shapes if you look closely.

With a fallen tree the bark tends to disappear to reveal the grain of the wood below. Here a broken branch shows more detail of the innards of the tree. This of course is a timeline of the lifetime of the tree. Layer by layer year by year.

It is quite remarkable that trees will grow anywhere that they can find a foothold for their roots. I love this tree at the Druids Mound with its roots draped across the ancient volcanic rock.

Water is vital to the success of any woodland. Swithland Wood is fortunate to have many streams which cross the wood. These can be quite lively after heavy rainfall.

Even in winter the streams sustain plants like this fern. I enjoyed seeing this arrangement of rocks and imagined how someone was inspired by their surroundings. No doubt the rocks will be displaced at some point to take a more natural position in the stream.

I Included this image of the old stone building bathed in the beautiful winter light to remind us that Swithland Wood hasn’t grown naturally. It is the result of good woodland management over hundreds if not thousands of years.