Wisley Christmas Eve: Mindfully Arboretumanally

Posted on 10/01/2021 By

Mindfully Arboretumanally

Mindfully Arboretumanally: Bobby’s favourite tree.

Bobby’s favourite tree.

As Bobby struggled with the life he was leading a few years ago, he turned to mindfulness to see if that would help. It did, particularly when practised in a group of people. Some time later, he mentioned it to the Gentle Author (GA) and also that this best friend was a teddy bear called Bertie. The GA suggested it would be a good name for the stories he was contemplating writing. And Mindfully Bertie was born.

He carried on his mindfulness sessions with a group of friends led by the admirable Estelle. And, by coincidence, he has just “Zoomed” into her house for the January meeting of the group. An hour that transported him into that world where you concentrate on breathing and try to forget the outside world. He tells me he always feels a lot more relaxed after.

You must forgive my English in the title “Mindfully Arboretumanally“, but teddy bears can say what they like when they need to get a point across. And this point is that anyone can do mindfulness. In fact, you may already practise it subconsciously if you have that kind of nature. Otherwise you may have to learn the principles. Go on a course. Try it. You may be surprised how simple it is.

Bobby was reminded of this when he went to Wisley Gardens on Christmas Eve. One thing that has come out of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic is the popularity of what you can do within the “Rules”. The Royal Horticultural Gardens at Wisley remain open. Numbers are limited by advance booking online only. As a member, he used to go a few times a year. Now he goes every single week. This has led to a much more relaxed walk round the gardens. Discovering parts he had never been to before and having no plan or expectation whatsoever. A truly mindful way to spend Christmas Eve.

Mindfully Arboretumanally

24 December was a glorious sunny morning. The gardens looked entrancing and so he headed for the arboretum to sit by the river. Wrapped up warm, the idea was just to sit there and watch the water slip by. Maybe he would see a Kingfisher? Maybe not. It didn’t matter. Breathe in the cold morning air and be grateful to be alive. An hour slipped by and he didn’t see the elusive Kingfisher. The mythical halcyon of the river. But he did see some other creatures that happened to pass by.

The River Wey at Wisley Gardens.

The River Wey at Wisley Gardens.

A Magpie in the tree branches, with golden brown autumnal leaves behind.

A noisy Magpie disturbing the peace.

A Robin on a tree branch.

A friendly Robin Redbreast.

A bird on the grass in the distance.

A Mistle Thrush. Honest. Its mate flew in later.

Mistle Thrush.

OK. You win. Here is a Mistle Thrush. Largest of our native Thrushes. Much bigger and more upright than a Song Thrush. Loves berries. Particularly those of Mistletoe. Hence the name. Now, as you know, Mistletoe is a parasite. It is spread inadvertently by this Thrush. It eats so many that, in desperate need of the loo, it excretes all over the tree. Poo that includes the seeds of Mistletoe.

Bobby’s Favourite Tree

Carpinus Betulus Fastigiata.

Close to the River.

Nameplate for the Carpinus Betulus Fastigiata.

Carpinus Betulus is a Hornbeam. Fastigiata is this particular form, being very compact and upright producing, when mature, the most beautiful upright shape.

Carpinus Betulus Fastigiata.

Bobby's shadow cast against the Carpinus Betulus Fastigiata as he takes a photo.

Bobby's sister, Wendy (RIP). In 2012, with failing health, Bobby took her to Wisley a few times and borrowed one of their electric scooters. Here she is under his favourite tree.

Bobby’s sister, Wendy (RIP). In 2012, with failing health, Bobby took her to Wisley a few times and borrowed one of their electric scooters. Here she is under his favourite tree.

Tree-lined River Wey.

On we went along the River Wey, through the Arboretum. Still keeping an eye open for a Kingfisher.

By now it was time for a picnic. Socially distanced by the lake.


This Mallard probably does very well by the lake from picnics.

Pied Wagtail.

So does this Pied Wagtail.

Swan on the blue river.

This Swan floated by as he was eating his Watercress sandwiches.

Little Grebe in the water.

A Little Grebe was fishing.

Little Grebe.

Little Grebe.

On he walked, across the gardens and found another Arboretum. The Jubilee Arboretum. Opened by the Queen and Prince Philip in 1977.

Plaque depicting the opening of the Jubilee Gardens: "Two purple Beeches were planted Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the entrance to the Arboretum to commemorate its opening in her Silver Jubilee Year (1977).

Two rabbits, in an acrobatic pose, carved into a dead tree stump.

What a lovely wood carving on a dead tree stump in situ.

The Jubilee Arboretum avenue of fastigiated trees (upright forms of trees of different species).

The Jubilee Arboretum avenue of fastigiated trees (upright forms of trees of different species).

A baby Giant Redwood.

A baby Giant Redwood.

Interepretation Board for the Giant Redwood.

And finally into the woods on Battleston Hill

The delicate pink flowers of an early Camellia.

An early Camellia.

Close up of the Camellia, in which there is a Goldcrest.

Can you see the Goldcrest?



Gardens in mid winter often have flowering shrubs with the most wonderful scents.

Witch Hazel.

Witch Hazel.




The wonderful Daphne (different variety to the one above), whose scent pervaded the garden.

Water fountain and gardens at Wisley.

And so to the end of a wonderfully relaxing, mindful day.

This story was written after tonight’s (4 January) mindfulness evening with Estelle and friends. The pictures had been taken on Christmas Eve. The library bird pictures screen printed tonight. We had booked tickets for Wisley Gardens tomorrow. But now we are once again in National lockdown.

Stay safe. Stick to the Rules. Pray if praying is your thing and we will all meet one day soon at Wisley Gardens. Until then, Mindfully Bertie will carry on trying to entertain with stories about who knows what?

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Wisley remains open for exercise for those who live close by. 14 miles is not nearby and, in any event, is not within the spirit of the lockdown. It is not the end of the world. We are surrounded by the Surrey Hills and can walk in many places virtually on our own.

Lighting a Candle for Diddley

Once again, Bobby’s wonderful friend Anne and her husband Kevin have offered to do his weekly shop for him. Throughout the first lockdown she did all his shopping. The agreement this time was that every time she did his shopping she included two bunches of flowers. One for him. One for her. She chose these Red Roses. Reduced to £2.50. How could he tell her that Diddley hated Red Roses and he had never brought them into Laurel Cottage?

Suffice to say, these beautiful blooms have brightened his life for just a few days in lockdown. Here’s to whatever she chooses next week. Laurel Cottage just has to have cut flowers all year round. The last time he bought his own in Waitrose, the assistant said… “Someone’s lucky!” He said… “Yes. I am!”.

Vase of Red Roses, viewed from above.

Bertie with the vase of Red Roses in front of him and a candle lit for Diddley in front of them.



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