Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Celebri-tree ....

Back to Kew on a chilly morning with Phil, to meet Tony Kirkham, Kew’s hugely knowledgeable and accommodating Arboretum Director. Tony invited us to come and scan one of Kew’s Champion trees - the tallest Chestnut-leaved oak in the UK. And it’s quite a specimen - I’ve not seen Quercus castaneifolia close-up before and this one is over 35 m tall and with some amazing secondary stems and boughs.
Quite the character.
It was a classic chilly London morning, but there’s worse places to work. I always learn stuff when I’m at Kew, particularly when I'm with Tony, about the trees themselves and their history and ecology but also about how trees like this need to be so carefully managed: air-blowing the soil around the roots to aerate them; pollarding the middle of the crown so it acts less like a sail in high winds, reducing stress on the trunk. And today’s word of the day 'Balanocultures: people that depend on acorns as a staple diet'. Also found out that the word Druid means ‘to know the oak’. Trees eh?

UPDATE: check out the beautiful 3D model Phil has produced, showing the tree in all its glory. Turns out it's 36.5 m tall.

Good times.

Phil and I also scanned a sweet chestnut of unusual shape, which apparently featured as the model for the Whomping Willow in the first Harry Potter film. It’s not a willow, but it’s still a cool tree.

Funny looking willow.
UPDATE: closeup visualisation of the trunk of this sweet chestnut.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Trees and champagne

Happy New Year and welcome to 2018. Well, 2017 was a doozy and finished off with the very enjoyable aspect of seeing our work appear on the Judi Dench: My Passion for Trees. The programme seemed to go down extremely well, with seemingly universal outstanding reviews (see here, here and here for example, as well as my personal fave: "Come for the lols, stay for the poignant thoughts about death."). We've already had some interesting feedback. As well as some "interesting" feedback 😁. It was certainly quite entertaining following #MyPassionForTrees trending on twitter on the 20th December! There's definitely some new possibilities opening up as more people see this work. More to come this year I think!

Meanwhile, Andy's been busy pulling out trees from the California plots. This is a snapshot of the 20 largest stems from the Grove of Old Trees, the first plot we scanned there, and an absolutely stunning place to work. These trees range from
Twenty sequioas from the Grove of Old Trees, Sonoma, California.
Meanwhile, we're off back to Surrey, Kew and then plans for trips back to Malaysia, Brazil and elsewhere. Onwards and upwards. Trees and champagne for everyone!