• Heritage Trees Wales at Plas Glyn-y-Weddw

    Very remiss of me not to have mentioned this earlier, but a set of my Heritage Trees Wales photographs went on exhibition at Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Llanbedrog, nr. Pwllheli from last Sunday (26th) until late March. Each photograph of a remarkable Welsh tree is taken from my 2012 book "Heritage Trees Wales" (Graffeg) - sadly now out of print. I brought an extra dimension to these images by framing each one in the same timber as the tree featuring in the photograph. Not an easy task when one is seeking woods like laburnum for making a frame.

    I will be making a special visit to the gallery to deliver my Heritage Trees Wales talk on the 8th March (2pm) & would love to see you there.

    Many thanks go to Nia Roberts and her colleagues at PGYW who have mounted the exhibition and, as you will see, there are several other fascinating and talented artists with their work on show.

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  • Victorian vignette in Burnham Beeches

    Firstly - a happy new year to all visitors & apologies for scarcity of posts these days - hectic life rather kicks things like this into the shadows.

    Thought you might enjoy this fabulous little vignette of Victorian tourism at Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire. This glass lantern slide was created around 1890 to the best of my knowledge and features one of the mighty ancient beech pollards, which fortunately are still to be found in some order to this day, although whether or not this particular individual has survived is hard to say. Great composition & good light on the tree with a young lad supposedly asleep beneath while someone hiding in the hollow tree appears to be using a little fishing rod to perhaps secretly hook something out of the basket. Not sure, but a cracking little image to be sure.

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  • The Armada Avenue revisited after eight years

    The weather was a bit hit & miss last week so the first day that took me down towards Abergavenny on other business was perhaps not the best opportunity to revisit the Armada Avenue of Spanish chestnuts behind Llanvihangel Court, but it was over eight years since I last came to see how they were and photographed them in the spring of 2011 for my then forthcoming book "Heritage Trees Wales". It was fascinating to discover from the farmer who currently owns this land that the trees have been known as the Armada Avenue for as long as he could remember. It has always been believed that the trees were planted with chestnuts taken from one of the stricken vessels of the Spanish Armada back in 1588. I'd have to say that there is a strong possibility that some of the largest trees - several with girths over 30 feet - might just be over 400 years old. Remarkably, in shape and form they do resemble the so-called Armada Avenue of chestnuts at Croft Castle in Herefordshire. There is a very naive painting of Llanvihangel Court in 1680 still hanging on the walls of the great house to this day that shows an avenue of trees in exactly the same place as the chestnuts of today. If they were around 100 years old then... who knows? It's difficult to be categorical about this, as the trees might be a previous generation of any species (they are so small in the painting it's hard to see for sure), but maybe us romantics shouldn't let the flimsy evidence sully a good yarn.

    Many of the chestnuts have succumbed to disease down the years, most probably phytophthora in recent times, but the last eight years seems to have shown something of a plateau in the rate of decline, so who knows maybe these grand old Spaniards are fighting back.

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  • Ash Tree Down

    This is almost certainly what we have to look forward to. Ash trees will be tumbling all over the country in ever increasing numbers as ash dieback nails them. This old ash pollard was struggling three or four years back, but I'm fairly sure that ash dieback, along with fungi were the final nails in the coffin for it. The abundance of ivy also made it a huge wind sail for the sudden gust of wind that brought it down on what was otherwise a fairly calm day. As I came home on the 1st it was apparent that it had fallen only a few minutes before my arrival. Possibilities don't bear thinking about!!! I had suggested to the farmer on a couple of occasions that it might be a good idea to bring it down in a more controlled manner, but it was always one of those I'll-get-around-to-it jobs. The only up side is that I have quite a bit of firewood tucked away for the winter.

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  • ...and what exactly is this tree? Eucalyptus globulus? And why?

    Visiting Yorkshire last week and as I was walking through the churchyard in Otley I happened upon this remarkable old tree that appears to have gently laid itself down to rest. Initial thoughts are that it is one of the eucalypts - perhaps a blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) - the leaves look about right. It's pretty old I reckon, although they do have the capacity to grow fast. But why here in this churchyard? A most unusual choice. Any further info. welcomed.

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Archie Miles photography

Archie's Blog

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