Saturday 28 February 2009

Ancient Tree Forum at Windsor Great Park, Berkshire.
The ATF is 10 years old.

The ancient tree forum run by the Woodland Trust and events are organized all over the country. Do check out their web site and also go along to an event, it makes for a very interesting day out and you will learn lots.
Any way I managed to get to this event as I was also delivering a bench nearby and I needed to meet up with a couple of people who are planning a very interesting project, more on this when it happens. The ATF is a collection of people with a passion for trees especially old ones, they or we have a huge and diverse collection of knowledge on all aspects of trees and related species that live on or along side them. Over the last 10 years much research has gone into finding and measuring these trees, which we can all have a go at, see their web

A stags head oak, so called because of the stag antler like dead branches.

We all met up at the York Club and I was surprised to have Jenna Higgins come up and remind me that we had met at Westonbirt, She was working with Brian and Ruth at the wood fair, and is doing a 3 year apprenticeship similar to Ruth's in coppice crafts.

We then spent the morning walking through the park and Bill Cathcart, who works at the park gave a talk about the history of the park.

The tree, above this photo, was pointed out to us a stags head oak which had to retrench in the 1976 drought. If a tree can not get enough water then it lets the higher branches die, the tree is still very healthy and this is just a survival mechanism. As you can see the branches can stay up for decades. Note also it is good practice not to mow under trees and to leave dead wood alone, trees don`t do tidy, and like lots of dead stuff lying around underneath them.

A 700 year old oak tree, still in rude health.

I spent most of the time photographing and not listening to what all the experts where discussing, I was in photo heaven.

A dead oak tree, as a nature loving bloke and artist etc I have always loved dead standing trees and even fallen ones. We have always wanted to tidy up, and a tidy landscape is usually not a very diverse ecosystem. It was great to see so many dead standing trees and the amazing habits that they provide.

Just to give you an idea of the size of some of the older, 600 - 800 year old, trees Andrew is standing at the foot of a living oak tree.

As many of you know I love photographing 'tree spirits', it is also great fun looking for them.

A beef steak fungus Fistulina hepatica, we saw many of them and they are edible, I have yet to try them. What really attracts me to this fungus is that it changes the colour of the oak wood to a dark rich brown and this wood is usually sold at a premium. I would love to get my hands on more brown oak.

I love visiting art galleries etc but sometimes I get blown away by what nature creates, I could have spent hours or days photographing this still living tree

Close up of above

Heart wood tree spirit image created by simple symmetry, from the same tree as above but from a slightly different angle.

Yet another oak tree, this is about 2 feet across on the tree, to give a you an idea of scale.

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