Wild West Yorkshire, Friday 22 October 2010
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THIS ERMAN'S BIRCH grows in a small arboretum beyond the formal walled garden of Oakwell Hall, Birstall. The area has been landscaped as a faith garden, a kind of 21st century revival of the Druidic sacred grove, complete with a small circle of megaliths (or in this case miniliths) and a miniature amphitheatre of stone seating. The sign quotes pioneer conservationist John Muir (1838-1914)
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play and pray in,
where nature may heal and
give strength to body and soul alike.
and explains that the faith garden is intended to be;
safe and reflective
a haven of peace and stillness
somewhere to appreciate the world of nature
a place to think
or just to be
My own way of finding a haven of peace and stillness and appreciating the world of nature is to draw, or, today, as we have only an hour to walk around Oakwell Park, to take a few photographs and collect some leaves to draw later. It's also a chance to try out my new field guide, Collins Complete Guide to British Trees, which I've brought with me. It works well on identifying this birch, one of the few of the 15 or 20 species in the collection which doesn't have a label attached to it.
ERMAN'S BIRCH, Betula ermanii, has bark that peels into strips like that of the Paper-bark Birch, Betula papyrifera, the one used by Native Americans to make birch-bark canoes, however Erman's Birch is a native of Japan. The best way to tell the two apart is by the leaves; Erman's has triangular to heart-shaped leaves.
Richard Bell, illustrator
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