Just a five minute walk from home, Dog Hill Wood in Ledbury is a Town Council woodland open to the public. It’s semi-ancient woodland with mature oak, yew, ash, cherry and cedar, along with native wildflowers – primroses, wood anemones and bluebells (which will be gorgeous in a couple of weeks). I intend to go there with my camera often and capture the changing seasons. In my first visit there to take photographs, I was struck not so much by the delicate wood anemones or the plants springing to life as by the form and structure of the woods – how the trees shaped and framed the spaces around them.
The first two photographs are of very old yew tree roots against the barren soil. The trees are on the edge of a steep slope that’s eroded on one side leaving sweeps of dark and worn roots snaking out from the trunk – the muscled old arms of the tree holding tight to the ground beneath. It was about 6.30 in the evening last Friday when I was out, and the low clouds gave an even light which allowed me to capture the full tonal range without harsh shadows.
As it slowly got darker I wandered through the woods and while my eye was drawn to shapes and patterns I was suddenly struck by a blaze of orange on a few cherry tree trunks on the cooler, damper east side of the hill. I initially though this surprising splash of colour was lichen (and was about to write just that) but a quick search led me to discover that it’s actually an algae – Trentepohlia abietina, if you’re interested. The dark green ivy leaves complement the orange of the algae.
And near the end of my wanderings there’s a section of the woods where older trees have come down in the past, and saplings are competing for the light. The gloom was gathering by this time, but that suited me, as again the shapes and lines of the saplings were what I was trying to capture and a bright sky through the leafless branches would have changed the feeling. I was mindful of the sense of anticipation in the woodland – new life waiting to burst forth with the warmth of spring. This little grove of saplings reminded me of a wild wood regenerating – I half expected to see a bear shamble out of them.
As I said earlier, I’ll be back to record how the woods change throughout the year, and will definitely be sharing those photographs with you.