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Castle Hill Wood (Part I)

Castle Hill Wood
Castle Hill Wood

Second in a series featuring photographs and writings from other staff and researchers at UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research. Today's photographs and comments are by Peter Wharton, Curator of the David C. Lam Asian Garden. – Daniel

Updated Jan. 15, 2006 – I had the slide numbers mixed up, so there's a new photograph 1!

The small-leaved lime or linden (Tilia cordata) has a very scattered distribution in the United Kingdom and is often associated with limestone bedrock, where rocky bluffs or ravines provide a refuge for this species and associated calciphilic vegetation. Anyone wanting a detailed survey of this species in the U.K. should consult the encyclopedic lifework of Dr. Richard Mabey, Flora Britannica.

My father, a retired medical doctor, has spent much time rambling through the North Yorkshire Moors exploring the many fragmentary ancient woodlands that are a feature of steep sided river valleys which radiate from the moors. While on holiday last summer, my father directed me to a remarkable woodland dominated by impressive, ancient specimens of the small-leaved lime or linden, with a wonderfully rich herbaceous vegetation to match. Castle Hill Wood is underlain by Upper Jurassic Corallian Limestone and it forms a significant outlier from the surrounding Hambleton Hills, just south of the moors and near the market town of Helmsley. The river Rye and Rievaulx Abbey, a ruined Cistercian order monastery lies below, completing this aesthetic palette.

Castle Hill Wood is nationally classified as a “Site of Special Scientific Interest” and now receives appropriate protection. The veteran, semi-prone, ribbed trees pictured here present to the viewer a history of fortitude and longevity. My wife, Sarah, and I climbed through this wood in growing wonder as huge old hulks of the common oak (Quercus robur) and increasingly, our primeval linden friends enclosed us. In early summer these woods must glow bright yellow from the linden flowers, no doubt accompanied by the hum of innumerable bees. As normal upstanding trees or as multistemmed specimens they become increasingly fluted with age (photograph 1). With time they become increasingly prone to windfall on these thin soiled sites with a naturally fractured bedrock. As generations pass, tree weight and windstorms increasingly cause individuals to assume prone positions, yet live on... (photograph 2)

To be concluded in tomorrow's entry!

Photography resource link (by Daniel): Tripods 101 – a guide to understanding tripods and what to consider if you plan to purchase one. Very timely for me, as I'm very close to needing a new one.


Astute observers will note that the genus Tilia is in the family Malvaceae – the same family as yesterday's Gossypium darwinii from the Galapagos!

Tilia cordata - Z3 - RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths
Tilia cordata - Z4-8 - A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Brickell, Cole, Zuk

I've wondered why Lindens are also called Lime trees. Does this have something to do with the limestone bedrock with which they are associated, or something else entirely?

Steve, Wikipedia has one explanation, suggesting that the word derived from the Germanic root lind: Tilia.

Do I see a Robin Hood hiding in them ancient trees?

They have such amazing character at that age... just how old is the former giant?

Oh, I love the ancient forests. Even though I rarely ever have the joy of stepping into such environments, just knowing they're there makes me feel better. I'm glad to have stepped into the entries for this day and the next, from four years ago. Seeing the old woodlands and ancient trees in these photos awakens my inner druid.

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