An Arboreal Charnel House

Although still breezy and somewhat nippy, our morning’s weather was much brighter.

Accompanied by chirruping small birds, the screeching of the greenfinch, the cooing of doves, the repeated mating plea of a wood pigeon, and the gentle buzzing of the bees,

Jackie continued her various plantings such as those in tubs, stone urns, box containers and hanging baskets;

I picked up fallen debris then went round the bend, almost completing the task of clearing the Heligan Path of weeds.

My next task will be recovering the overgrown footpath leading to the chair in the Weeping Birch Bed. I assure you there is one there.

At one point the Head Gardener popped out to Ferndene Farm Shop and returned with more compost. This enabled her to replace some older material

and use it, to the consternation of a few owls – one of which was given a dry shampoo – to refresh the soil-leaking stumpery.

After lunch we took a trip to the north of the forest.

We stopped on Cadnam Lane to admire the group of Shetland ponies with their big grey companion. By the time I had changed my lens and emerged from the car, they were all setting off into the distance. They were not going to play ball today.

The soft toys attached to a gate and railings are looking pretty soggy now.

Further along we encountered a trio of what Jackie termed “deliciously disgusting” sows.

Wherever we drive in the New Forest at the moment it increasingly bears the look of an arboreal charnel house.

On the approach to Bramshaw I disembarked and made some images that could have been found almost anywhere in our National Park, committed as its management is to maintaining the natural ecology.

The most recently sawn trunk and branches had clearly fallen across the road, for its trunk and branches have been cut up on opposite sides.

A sturdy oak supports another tree that has been ripped asunder.

One decaying trunk has taken on the persona of an almost toothless old man of the woods.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome sausage casserole; boiled potatoes; firm carrots; and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.


  1. With Arboreal Charnel House, I did not know what to expect. Death by Wind Decapitation has happened here the past two winters also.

  2. At least this Charnel House has much to commend it in the beauty stakes as well as for its contribution to the well-being of the desizens of the environment.

  3. I also was a bit anxious about what an arboreal charnel house might mean. ? You and Jackie are so busy, you make me feel lazy! That trunk does look like a toothless old man.

  4. What a joy to hear about the beautiful symphony of sounds that accompanied your day! 🙂 (Wonderful descriptive words! 🙂 )
    What a joy to see all of the owls watching Jackie work. Owls make great supervisors, don’t they?! 😉 😀
    The pretty ponies look busy. And the pleased piggies look like they’ve had some play. 😛
    We need the toothless well-seasoned ones in the woods. 🙂
    GREAT photos, Derrick…each and every one!
    (((HUGS))) for you and Jackie!!! 🙂
    PS…What were your breezy wind speeds today?

  5. I can sympathise with your view of the woodland management. In the words of the hymn, “Change and decay in all around I see.” But that’s life, I suppose.

  6. OK..mind you I’m still out of sorts but I so was expecting to see bones in trees instead of dead trees. I’m too confused to be disappointed…or disappointed to be confused.

    I cannot wait until these bones heal. Woof.

      1. I’m rewriting and adding a little piece Derrick, and I would like to use your “Soggy Soft Toys” photo in my post tomorrow … if that’s ok by you ..

          1. Thank you Derrick .. ahh my ‘Tullawalla’ book is definitely getting soggy at the printers…

  7. Given my recent immersion in cemeteries, you can imagine what I thought. “Arboreal charnel house” is just as splendid as the others have said. I was rather taken with the hogs. Can’t you just imagine how your favorite illustrator would have drawn them?

  8. The New Forest looks quite primeval, almost as though it is untouched by man. A far cry from not that long ago when all woods and forests were cleared of dead wood.

    1. Quite so, Clare. I understand the rule in the New Forest was that one third had to be left (or taken – I can’t remember which). That seemed illogical to me because if each forager took the allocated amount, and another came along and did the same, there would not be much left 🙂 Thanks very much

  9. Jackie looks right at home in the garden, Derrick! Things are looking beautiful, Jackie!

    Was most of that tree cutting precipitated by recent storm damage in the New Forest area? I love the shaggy, sturdy little ponies, the Hobbits of the horse world. And of course, the pigs! Thanks for including them tonight, Derrick.

    1. And thanks to you from us both, Lavinia. That large oak that obviously lay across the road was the most recent. The others would have been over a varied period of years. Wind and rain does play havoc

  10. The pleasant opening is in consonance with the morning: I loved the opening paragraph. The Head Gardener leaves no stone unturned in the upkeep of her kingdom. The expression ‘arboreal charnel house’ does full justice to the condition of the forest. ‘Deliciously disgusting’ is yet another startlingly apt expression to which I wholeheartedly subscribe.

  11. “I picked up fallen debris then went round the bend.” We who have already gone around the bend salute you!

  12. The woodland images are quite eerie. Oh, those shetlands are just gorgeous, the mane and colour of one or two reminding me of lions.

  13. Those are “deliciously disgusting” sows … indeed! I love the Shetland ponies and that old tree that has taken on the persona of an old man. Delightful description! <3 Thanks for sharing your day, {{{Derrick}}}.

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