Tag Archives: trees

Signs that Spring is on its Way and a Cover Reveal

The first day of spring, 20th March, is the release date for my latest book
A Symphony of Dragons, a date to look forward to.
So, I’m giving you a peek at the signs that Spring is on its way…

Signs that Spring is on its Way and a Cover Reveal | The Last Krystallos

Snowdrops bring us beauty on the edge of winter, arriving on the cusp of spring…

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Snowdrops © Lisa Shambrook

Followed by hellebores giving us late winter roses, the crocus pushing through the earth with hope, and dainty primroses, the epitome of spring…

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Crocus, Hellebore and Primrose © Lisa Shambrook

Valentines offer love, passion and the first flush of pending spring romance…

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Valentine © Lisa Shambrook

Light changes as days get longer and we are welcomed by dawn’s blush as we wake…

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Lighter Days © Lisa Shambrook

Daisies begin to brighten our lawns with friendly faces…

Daisies-Signs-of-spring-The-Last-krystallos

Daisies © Lisa Shambrook

Trumpets of gold herald spring with the most famous flower of the season…

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Daffodils © Lisa Shambrook

Ballerina blossom, so delicate and flouncy like soft, thin cotton or candyfloss…

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Blossom © Lisa Shambrook

And new leaves sprout ready to dress the trees in finery and spring attire…

Leaf New Growth-Signs-of-spring-The-Last-krystallos

New Growth © Lisa Shambrook

Magic arrives with fae and fantasy, sunshine and clarity, and I can introduce you to dragons…

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Magic © Lisa Shambrook

The first day of spring this year will bring a collection of tales interweaved with gossamer threads of dragon fire, and the first story will launch you into the seasons on the agile wings of dragons…

Lisa_Shambrook_Symphony_of_Dragons

Enjoy the flowers – lighter, longer days – romance – and the enchantment of spring.

And I’ll let you know as soon as A Symphony of Dragons is available…
You’re definitely going to want to discover the dragon that brings you spring…and those that compose summer, autumn and winter too!

Let the song of dragons lead you…

Glorious Autumn Leaves

We have had the most glorious autumn this year…
Colours that have truly stunned and beautified the season.

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Gold, Bronze and Red © Lisa Shambrook

It’s been a colourful year in many ways – not always good ones – but the autumn leaves have brightened my life and made the tough stuff easier. Right now at the end of November and as we move into winter I need to make the most of the amazing colours and leaves before the trees have completely disrobed in the gales and November rain…

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Gold and Green © Lisa Shambrook

I’ve already posted a couple of autumn blogs this year: Autumn Days Are Here and The Best Bits of Autumnbut the leaves themselves warrant another post to bask within before the seasons change!

So, just enjoy my leaves in all their glory…

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Sycamore Helicopter, Acorn Cup and Red Leaf © Lisa Shambrook

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Bronze and Green © Lisa Shambrook

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Red © Lisa Shambrook

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Acorn, Oak, Green and Gold Leaves© Lisa Shambrook

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Bronze, Crunchy Leaves © Lisa Shambrook

What have been your favourite colours and leaves this autumn?

The Old Oak’s Transition – Gathering Leaves…

From bare branches to lush leaves…  
For two months I’ve watched the old oak dress for Summer and gain its canopy.

an Old Oaks Transition from bare to leaves, green castle woods, the last krystallos, lisa shambrook,
Over eight weeks I’ve visited the magical old oak up in the meadow at Green Castle Woods and watched its buds form with a hint of blush, and then unfurl and blossom in peridot green. Leaves that with beauty sprout and flourish and decorate its grey, gnarled boughs. Leaves that will mature and darken and clothe the little oak in beauty all Summer long, before turning golden and brown and dropping to the floor in Autumn.

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My series of photographs were taken once a week,
in many different Welsh weather conditions,
and show the oak’s transition from bare to clothed.

old oak, green castle woods carmarthen, bare to leaves, tree gaining leaves, lisa shambrook

Green Castle Woods Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook April – May 2016

old oak, green castle woods carmarthen, bare to leaves, tree gaining leaves, lisa shambrook

Green Castle Woods Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook April – May 2016 Black and White Studies

How are your favourite trees dressing for Summer? 

Do you love foliage or blossom?

The Fascinating World within Nature’s Carpet – Gathering Moss

Moss swathes the forest floor, old stone walls, and creeps leisurely onward.
It drapes the trees and cloaks the ground in a jewelled garment of green.
Moss creates its own miniature ecosystem – a forest within itself.

Gathering Moss - The Last Krystallos

Brechfa Forest - Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Brechfa Forest © Lisa Shambrook

My favourite colour is very much lead by nature and lends itself to my romantic soul which finds delight in anything serene and beautiful. My favourite colour is the honey green of moss, the earthy colour of the forest floor softened by the peridot jewel tone.

When I need to unwind or just return to my roots, I wander in the forests and the earthy tones of green and soft breeze lull my soul.

One gram of moss contains... - Robin Wall Kimmerer | The Last Krystallos

Robin Wall Kimmerer © Lisa Shambrook

 

 

 

 

 

There are over 1,000 species of moss in Britain, with more yet to be discovered, though many people only notice two or three varieties. If you get right down on the woodland ground you’ll see the intricate detail and real ecosystem living right there in amongst the moss and lichen, especially if you have a magnifying glass. Moss is nature’s carpet.

Reindeer Moss - Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Reindeer Moss © Lisa Shambrook

Moss and lichens don’t have root systems, they anchor themselves with rhizoids. They don’t draw nourishment from the ground but through photosynthesis, air and water. They hold many times their own weight in water and aid the forest as sponging, cooling and humidifying systems. They are also able to go dormant when they’re under stress.

Elan Valley - Haircap Moss | Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Elan Valley – Haircap Moss © Lisa Shambrook

They have great strength, especially as they grow dense and low to the ground, but they are still vulnerable. They are stripped for the florist industry and are constantly trod upon. As our society, towns and farms spreads into their territory they try to grow, as you’ll see on walls, paving slabs and rooves, but many new building materials are not moss friendly. Many people will also treat moss with weed-killer killing off their tiny ecosystems. My garage shares its roof with my neighbour’s garage and my side of the roof was blanketed with little hedgehogs of cushion moss, and my neighbour, who follows a regimented gardening style used a weed-killer to remove the moss and thereby prevent damp in the garage. This made me sad – I suppose I don’t mind a little damp…

Moss in its element - Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Moss in its element © Lisa Shambrook

One of my most favourite places locally is the Brechfa Forest. It’s like a fairy-tale forest and I expect to bump into Galadriel. Moss covers the forest floor in a springy carpet and drapes like feathery curtains from the fir trees. It’s a magical walk, and the dog loves it too!

Brechfa Moss - Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Moss in Brechfa © Lisa Shambrook

Ancient conversation moses and rocks - Robin Wall Kimmerer - Gathering Moss | The Last Krystallos

Robin Wall Kimmerer © Lisa Shambrook

What do you love about moss? Or do you have a different favourite woodland flora?
One of my most favourite photos is one I took on Exmoor of a tree swathed in moss…pure magic…

Exmoor mossy tree - The Last Krystallos

Exmoor moss swathed tree © Lisa Shambrook

Trentham Gardens – Beauty and Creativity: Nature unbound…

I seek out both beauty and nature, and it soothes my soul
when I discover a place where they exist hand-in-hand –
Trentham Gardens is such a place.

trentham gardens farie sculptures, robin wight, amy wight, dandelions,Just a couple of weeks ago a Facebook friend, Julia, shared a photograph of Dandelion sculptures and when it came up on my newsfeed they made me draw my breath. I had no idea where they were, but I searched for Trentham Gardens and discovered that they were close to Stoke…and I was heading up to Preston soon. I knew I wanted to see these installations first hand and nothing was going to stop me seeking out the beauty and creativity of these lovely gardens.

trentham gardens,

Trentham Gardens © Lisa Shambrook

My husband and I braved the motorways, which seemed to be nonstop jams, and spent a revitalising afternoon at the Trentham Estate.

Trentham has a recorded history from 1086, receiving a mention in the Domesday book through to current times with a fascinating history, and the gardens feature greatly, including landscape design from the famous Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. This place is indeed a site of nature unbound and nature contained…my favourite being the unbound kind of nature!

You can shop and eat in the shopping village with free parking, and the garden’s entry price is found here. Once inside the magnificent landscape, with children’s play area, formal and informal gardens, the lake and woodland walks, intense beauty is right at your fingertips.

…and…there are fairies at Trentham…

© Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

Many fairies, fourteen, I think, live within Trentham’s bounds…and your aim is to find each of them. They were created from galvanised and stainless steel wire by sculptor Robin Wight (Facebook Page), and his daughter Amy Wight recently created the huge dandelions in the wildflower meadow.

Fairies at Trentham Gardens by Robin Wight © Lisa Shambrook

Fairies at Trentham Gardens by Robin Wight © Lisa Shambrook

These dandelions stand fifteen feet tall and make you feel like a fairy yourself as you stand at their feet and gaze up at the wishes blowing out across the blue sky…

Make your own wish, and see if the fairies help them come true!

dandelions at Trentham Gardens by Amy Wight,

Dandelions at Trentham Gardens by Amy Wight © Lisa Shambrook

I was amazed at the sheer beauty and craftsmanship. The dandelions stretch high and shimmer as the sun dances upon them and Trentham loves you to share your photos #TrenthamGardens on Twitter and Instagram…

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Sculptures at Trentham Gardens © Lisa Shambrook

Each fairy, an exquisite piece of art, invites you to believe in fairytales and dreams and you’ll be searching high and low to find them. Fairies aren’t the only art installations either; search for the otters, stag beetles, deer and birds among other sculpted creatures and delights.

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Trentham Gardens in Autumn…note the dandelions in the centre of the photo… © Lisa Shambrook

I adored Trentham, especially in autumn, there’s no comparison for me. Autumn brings gold, russet and red tones, and a carpet of leaves to crunch and rustle through. The woodland walk and lake is magical; you’ll see herons and swans, and hear the birds twittering above you. The old mansion is a romantic ruin, but you’ll imagine courting couples wandering through the historical gardens, and maybe lovers catching a kiss beneath the arches and trees…

Discover the fairies at Trentham © Lisa Shambrook

Discover the fairies at Trentham and check out the size comparison! © Lisa Shambrook

Take a walk yourself and bathe yourself in history and beauty…
and nature unbound…and let the fairies guide you!

spring fairy, trentham dsandelions, amy wight, robin wight,

Spring Fairy at Trentham Dandelions © Lisa Shambrook

Wishes do come true…

Nature Unbound © Lisa Shambrook, trentham gardens,

Nature Unbound © Lisa Shambrook

How To Find Nature’s Antidepressants

‘I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.’
John Burroughs

nature's-antidepressants-title-the-last-krystallos 1These last few weeks have been tough. There’s no reason, except for the rising mists of depression that have been circling my feet. Depression doesn’t need a reason.

It’s been a good few years since the black dog really bit a chunk out of me. I live with anxiety and panic, but I’ve kept depression at bay. When it began swirling about my feet a few weeks ago it was unexpected, though not surprising. Depression is an illness you know can and often returns without warning.

I’m currently still in the early stages of an episode and I’m fighting. I’ve used many methods to overcome depression over the years, including medication and therapy. This time I’m hoping to quash it naturally before it has the chance to develop.

I have a headstart as autumn is my favourite season – so here goes:

*How to fight depression purely through nature…

brighton pier sunset, clouds, the last krystallos,

Sunset, ocean and clouds © Lisa Shambrook

Anything that makes you feel good helps, so I’m storing the good things like sunsets and clouds. I can escape when I watch clouds and escaping into my imagination always gives me somewhere to go when darkness attacks.

ocean, freedom and waves, the last krystallos,

Ocean © Lisa Shambrook

The ocean is another of my go to places. The ocean heals me. It calms my troubled mind and lifts my soul. A calm sea is a balm and a rough sea ignites my passions. Talking of water, another way I fight depression is to swim, which I’ve blogged about before. Powering through the water uses energy, is relaxing and exercise has been proven to help fight depression.

green castle woods, woodland walks, dog walk, sunshine and smiles, lisa shambrook, the last krystallos,

Green Castle Woods, walks, sunshine and smiles © Lisa Shambrook

Walking is exercise. On days when I can’t get to the gym, I can walk through woodlands, meadows, and the countryside. My German Shepherd gives me reason (if I need it and sometimes depression can kill motivation) and we walk every day. I live in a gorgeous area and we can discover adventure together beneath the canopy and fresh air.

Sunshine and smiles. Smile and you feel better. Simple. Sunshine also gives the feel good factor right along with vitamins. Don’t forget we need sufficient hours of daylight to fuel and charge our bodies.

snowdonia mountain valleys and mist, eagles, the last krystallos,

Snowdonia and eagles © Lisa Shambrook

Mountains, valleys, woodlands, forests…nature’s kingdom leaves me in awe and that’s always good. Get out there and enjoy the boost Mother Earth offers for free. Watch the birds soar, and let yourself escape!

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Red Squirrel (found by Dan on Prince Edward Island, Canada) and Green Castle Woods Oak © Lisa Shambrook

I mentioned my dog and I also have cats. They love me, yes, even my cats do! Animal therapy works, stroking an animal reduces blood pressure and calms the soul. Animals offer the sort of unconditional love many humans don’t. Get out and discover what lives in the wild. Vince and I once saw a deer, just a few feet away. It stared at us and we stared back for a few minutes before it bounded away, but in those days without camera phones, it’s just a snapshot memory…maybe they’re the best type…

discovery apples, red apples, autumn leaves, the last krystallos,

Discovery apples and autumn leaves © Lisa Shambrook

I adore trees, and they remind me how to grow, tall and strong. Climb one if you want, feel that sense of achievement, as long as you don’t get stuck! Enjoy nature’s fruits, eat natural and healthy. I love our apples! Like I said earlier, Autumn is my favourite season, so the turning leaves both inspire and humble me, and make the perfect atmosphere to fight the darkness.

roses and lavender, the last krystallos,

Roses and Lavender © Lisa Shambrook

Flowers. I’ve blogged lots about flowers, nature’s decoration, her jewels. The scent of jasmine, or orange blossom, or roses and lavender inspire and rouse and lift me.

rudbekia, rain on flower, simple daisy, the last krystallos,

Simplicity of nature’s flowers, rudbekia and daisies © Lisa Shambrook

So, I’m fighting. I’m getting out there and inhaling September, breathing in the beauty of nature and letting it infuse and heal me.

So tell me what helps you overcome life’s difficulties?
How do you allow nature to heal you? 

*It’s important to note that while nature can be a powerful prescription, if your depression intensifies, please seek help from your GP. Medication has its place and if used correctly can work wonders.

The Old Oak: Green Castle Woods

I have a real thing for trees, and in particular oaks.
I live in a market town which thrives on the legend of its old oak,
so it’s perhaps appropriate that the oak inspires me!

the old oak green castle woods, the last krystallos,Maybe I’ll write a post about Carmarthen’s Old Oak in the future, but today I want to show you my favourite local oak. It’s not a towering, far-reaching, huge, sun-blocking tree; it’s small, but adorable.

old oak tree green castle woods carmarthen, the last krystallos,

The old oak in spring – Green Castle Woods – May 2014 © Lisa Shambrook

I’ve tried to find out information about its history and come up with nothing, but it entrances me all the same, and I cannot walk by without imagining a rich past and a fantastical future! I imagine dragons wheeling above, squirrels collecting acorns, and creatures hibernating within its embrace.

The Old Oak in winter - Green Castle Woods - Dec 2014 © Lisa Shambrook

The old oak in winter – Green Castle Woods – Dec 2014 © Lisa Shambrook

When I first saw it, standing alone, I thought it was dead, especially as it was midwinter and bare, but as spring dawned I noticed new growth and my own excitement burgeoned just like its leaf buds! It spread gnarled branches, and foliage erupted and beauty ensued. It quickly became the most beautiful and unusual tree I know.

The old oak seasons - Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

The old oak seasons – Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

This oak is not much more than ten feet tall, and hollow. I know nature withstands a great deal, and the fact that it is fully alive amazes me seeing as it’s almost completely hollow. It stands alone in the middle of a reclaimed meadow in Green Castle Woods. It’s a popular dog walking area and we often take our German shepherd around the surrounding woodland and wander through the gorgeous bluebell woods. These woods inspire me and they’ve also become the place where each of my book cover images were taken. You’ll see the bluebells on the cover of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’, another oak on ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ and in the future you’ll see a carved out trunk on ‘Beneath the Distant Star’.

baby owl in owl box green castle woods, the last krystallos,

Baby owl – Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

Woodlands and trees offer me solace, perhaps there is nothing (except the ocean) more soul inspiring to me than the wind whispering through the canopy above, and the crunch of leaves and twigs beneath my feet. The vibrant colours that shine as the sun peers through the trees and the wildflowers peeping through the foliage and the undergrowth delight me.  I love the fragrance of spring, fresh and clean, and the musty rich scent of autumn as the season turns.  It’s peaceful and beautiful and I’ll always return to the woods.

Take a wander through Green Castle woods (click for map and leaflet), on both sides of the road, and you could find a Butterfly Totem pole, a bench protected by carved owls, an actual owl living in the well-hidden owl boxes, a bench decorated with the sun and the moon, a miniature replica of the main walk, a walk across small bridges and through the woods, my gorgeous almost magical oak, and much more. Like I said, I’ll always return…

Green Castle Woods - Carmarthen  © Lisa Shambrook

Green Castle Woods – Carmarthen © Lisa Shambrook

What do you love about the woods, and what is your favourite woodland tree?

The Loss of Laburnum…

Have you ever loved a tree, just watched it blossom and held your breath?

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Laburnum © Lisa Shambrook

When we moved into our home twelve years ago, a scrappy tree stood half way up the garden. It was bare and about fifteen feet tall, with straggly twiggy branches, but beautiful glossy bark. I had no idea what it was until the following spring, when from behind the two rhododendrons, the most beautiful acid yellow blossoms suddenly bloomed, gorgeous golden chains hung from the branches, and brightened my garden.

I’d seen laburnums before, and never been very keen on them, but this one blew me away. It was beautiful, a lovely shape, and the colour accentuated the purple and lilac rhododendrons perfectly. I was sold.

laburnum tree, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

laburnum blossom, yellow flowers, the last krystallos,

Laburnum Blossom © Lisa Shambrook

The children climbed it in autumn, hung rope from a branch in the summer to swing on, and we hung homemade insect houses from it too. I was never worried about the toxicity of the tree, well aware of its poisonous nature; all parts are poisonous if ingested. There are other toxic plants in my garden and I’ve always taught my children to respect nature and enjoy its beauty rather than chop down something beautiful due to fear.

There was never a more pleasing sight in my garden than the week the laburnum blossomed. I’d watch for it, watch the buds appear, and wait patiently for the day when a glance out of the window would take my breath away.

I adore trees, of all varieties, and we have a couple of apple trees (Discovery and Worcester), an Abies Koreana (with wonderful purple/black cones), a replanted Christmas tree, a couple of small ornamental firs and the laburnum. I can’t take credit for the laburnum. The previous owner chose it to accompany the rhododendrons, and it was an inspired choice. As it turns out the positioning would be its literal downfall, but inspired all the same.

I’d love to plant many trees, but a 30 x 90 foot garden can only take so many and the garden rises in a very steep slope.

The laburnum in its glory and uprooted © Lisa Shambrook

The laburnum in its glory and uprooted © Lisa Shambrook

It was a very sad day, when three weeks ago I wandered into my daughters’ bedroom, stared out of the window and bit back tears. The high winds of the previous two days had uprooted the tree. Now the twenty-five foot tree lay across my garden, swathed in lemon yellow, and I could only stand and stare.

uprooted laburnum, fallen tree, fallen laburnum, the last krystallos,

Uprooted laburnum © Lisa Shambrook

The loss of a tree might seem small, even unimportant, but it’s still a loss. I recall the hurricane of 1987, when I was fifteen and in Hove. Our local park lost two thirds of its trees and I remember that Seven Oaks lost six of its oaks. A loss of even one tree still hits me.

Trees inspire me and feature heavily in my writing, particularly in ‘Beneath the Old Oak’, where Meg finds solace beneath her tree. Losing my tree was tough. The horizon in my garden will never look the same. Next year, I’ll glance out of the window and something will be missing.

My garden has currently acquired the appearance of a meadow, due to hubby’s long work hours, my writing and bad back, so I don’t know if we’ll replace the laburnum. The whole garden is waiting for an overhaul…so we’ll just have to wait and see…

fallen laburnum. uprooted tree, the last krystallos,

Fallen laburnum © Lisa Shambrook

Have you ever lost an important tree or plant, how did you overcome the loss?

Visual Dare: Elite

Photo Source

Photo Source

She carved and built, delicately working her fingers, all month, barely stopping. This time she could help, she could do more than hold a banner, or be chained to a gate, this time she could really make a difference!

They laughed at her, the others, but they’d see.

When Maggie scoffed at the idea of a tree house, River bit her lip and bided her time. When Maggie chained herself to the old oak, River kept working. When they cut Maggie’s chains and the bulldozers moved in, River set down her tools and waited.

They laughed, when they saw it, they howled and snickered, but River watched as the engines growled.

It was the faces at the windows, tiny faces, peaked ears and delicate fingers pressed against River’s tiny panes of glass that stopped the laughter.

No motorway would ever cut through the ancient wood that housed fabled little folk…

(150 words)

00. VisDare Badge

A tale of survival and whimsy…read the others at Anonymous Legacy’s Visual Dare, and enjoy x