Added extras on the tree trails in Sidmouth

Golden copse. Picture: Diana East

Golden copse. Picture: Diana East - Credit: Archant

There is so much information about trees but Diana East, president of Sidmouth Arboretum asks how much should be included at each site.

Yellow wittch hazel. Picture: Diana East

Yellow wittch hazel. Picture: Diana East - Credit: Archant

A blue tit was singing from high on a silver birch in January when it was mild and damp, and the tree surgeons were so busy trying to fit in all their customers before the bird nesting season brings an end to certain jobs.

Though the silver birch had bare branches at that time, there are some early flowers on trees and shrubs such as witchhazel, acacia and shrubby honeysuckle.

These appear before the daffodils under the woodland canopy brighten our walks in March.

Witchhazel is a small shrubby tree, and has weird spider-like flowers and attractive autumn leaf colour, and remembering I would find them in flower, I went up to the Sid Vale Association’s Margaret’s Meadow to visit Golden Copse and their yellow flowered witchhazel (Hamamelis mollis) and sure enough they were performing magnificently.

Golden copse label. Picture: Diana East

Golden copse label. Picture: Diana East - Credit: Archant

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They have only a faint scent, but are brilliant yellow, and if you gently shake a branch, the petals rain down to the grass below.

Not all witchhazels are yellow, however, and I have a red-flowered version, which doesn’t stand out so well in the landscape.

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Anyway the SVA have recently put labels on the trees in Golden Copse and not only is this one way of learning about tree names, but it is a great way to enhance a walk on the many footpaths of the valley.

Sidmouth Arboretum has three tree trail leaflets and it would be good practice to label some of the trees that are on the leaflet walks and some which are mentioned as of particular interest in the text.

Red witch hazel. Picture: Diana East

Red witch hazel. Picture: Diana East - Credit: Archant

The question is how much information do you include on the label?

In botanical collections, it is usual to give the Latin name and the common name, together with a number relating to a database, and in some cases the country or region of origin of the plant.

In addition, the Sidmouth Arboretum label shown includes a QR code, which links to the website and allows you to find out even more about the tree in question.

But perhaps that is too much information and just a number and Latin name would suffice.

Arboretum label. Picture: Diana East

Arboretum label. Picture: Diana East - Credit: Archant

More discussion is needed and, of course, we don’t own the trees, so we will work with the land owners and groups such as Friends of the Byes and the relevant tree officer to agree a suitable type of label.

Sidmouth Arboretum Tree Trail leaflets for Sidbury and Salcombe Regis have just been relaunched and are available from the Tourist Information Centre and locally.

So next time you walk round our valley, you too may notice the tree name, as well as its flowers and the birds that so often draw my attention up into the tree canopy.

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