Friday, 25 September 2015

Here's looking at Kew

Something slightly different this week, with some scanning at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. I was contacted by a former UCL colleague and alumnus who now works in the GIS UNIT at Kew, where they are interested in capturing the structure of some of their oldest and more unusual trees. In part this may be to preserve them, if only virtually, for the record. But more immediately, the team there are exploring new ways to monitor and manage old trees for their own health and that of the visitors - large falling branches are potential hazard! We went out to Kew and scanned one of the oldest trees in the gardens, an oriental plane, ancestor of the London plane, planted in 1762 (or perhaps earlier) and now rather venerable, hollow, and listing in places. We also scanned the renowned stone pine, planted by Princess Augusta in 1846, and kept in essentially bonsai conditions. It's not little any more as you can see below and the odd shape is a result of the early pruning, but of course leaves it very prone to falling over and breakage.

Bonsai stone pine, with guy wires in the centre. 170 years old, 14m high and rather elegant.
Oriental plane, planted 1762 (perhaps earlier), before the sun came out.

Heavily downsampled point cloud from 3 scan locations, of the stone pine.

As above, but this time with Andy's defoliation algorithm applied, and the remaining wood-only parts coloured red.
Hopefully we'll be able to get back and scan the Plane leaf-off, after some remedial surgery has been carried out. We should then be able to see what the possible effects are on the remaining structure, if any.

A very civilised place to work: you can scan lovely trees, get a very good coffee and a cheeky croissant and even chat to some of the visitors! Fieldwork at its most genteel.