• Sun, Sitka, Surprise

    To be perfectly frank I am seldom entranced by a stand of Sitka spruce, but out yesterday in Aconbury Wood I caught a cracking view of late afternoon sunlight bursting through a big group of mature trees, but they were spaced well apart so that the young generation were able to make way beneath them. Beautiful backlight - just for a fleeting moment transported to a northwest American forest.

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  • Wesley Tree - A rare and early Ash image surfaces

    Ain't it always the way - just after one has commited to press something comes along that you wish you'd known about or managed to find before the sign-off. Well it was six months ago now that ASH was ready to print, but since I do include a short feature about the Wesley Tree in Winchelsea, Sussex it would have been wonderful to include this image.

    Trawling the Internet a few days ago I spotted this delightful little carte-de-visite photograph from around 1865. Taken by E.T. Gasson, a photographer from nearby Rye, it was clearly intended to function as a tourist memento in much the same way that postcards would do some 40 years later. One wonders who the top-hatted gent beneath the tree might have been - some local worthy, friend or relative of the photographer? I then went on to investigate the Photographic Artist and found a splendid article in a local magazine - without further ado take a look at https://ryesown.co.uk/ryes-first-photographer/ It's a great story about a remarkable man. Enjoy the wonderful portrait of the man himself - not only photographer, carpenter, picture framer, stationer, museum proprietor, but also Bird Stuffer! A fascinating link between Gasson and Winchelsea was that his mother was born there - probably around 1790 - the date of Wesley's visit!

    This original tree fell in gales in the 1920s, but a replacement tree was planted from a cutting, and still survives to this day.

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  • Hedge laying for beginner

    It wasn't until I had a closer look at one of our hedges the other day that I realised that there was more ivy than hedge tree in it and so, bearing in mind it was hardly a long enough stretch to bother about a pro., the novice hedge layer AM decided to have a bit of a shot at it. Cleared the gap as well as possible - tons of ivy and a couple of dead elders - the gap opened up even more. Carefully semi-severed some hawthorn and field maple either side of the gap, making sure I left a live heel on each one. Found three stakes to weave the stems around and pushed them down as hard and far as I could. Then planted a couple of little hollies, a hawthorn and a couple of wild plums along the gap (hope they will all take). Finished off with a bit of chicken wire on the inside to stop Scottie Flossie from squeezing through. Fingers crossed & let's see what the spring brings.

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  • They spread and they spread

    When we arrived in Herefordshire almost 30 years ago we soon got our bearings and using old maps, latterly a wonderful 25"/mile sheet from 1904, came to understand how the landscape around us had changed in a century. Dozens of orchards had disappeared - a trend that was still ongoing when we moved here, but has slowed down considerably in the last 20 years as thankfully a handful of people have come to realise how ecologically valuable old orchards can be. We found footpaths and bridleways that had been long forgotten and cottages that had been erased completely.

    Barely 500 yards along our track and out across the fields a tiny triangular copse marks the site of one of these erstwhile abodes - now reduced to a few ridges and mounds and forlorn, forgotten bits of rusty old ironwork and scattered bricks. The cottage must once have had its own little garden with a few clumps of snowdrops that burst forth every January. Abandoned, the garden has all but disappeared beneath brambles and nettles and yet every January the snowdrops spring back to life, multiplying, spreading throughout the copse. Any human influence here fizzled out over 70 years ago, but nature ploughs on regardless. I love it!

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  • A little piece of 300 year old ephemera - an Act to save trees

    Acquired this lovely little piece of ephemera dating to 1716 concerning the preservation of trees and woodland in the realm, or more specifically, endeavouring to curtail the mischief of, 'divers lewd and disorderly persons, and others, [that] have sometimes in a clandestine and malicious manner, broke down, cut up or otherwise destroyed such timber-trees, fruit-trees and other trees to the great discouragement of the planters and owners thereof..' and provides legislation enabling the judiciary to commit offenders to, 'the house of correction, there to continue and be kept to hard labour for the space of three months,' or where no such institution is available, 'to such prison as is appointed for other criminals, there to continue for a space of four months; and shall also order and adjudge that such offenders shall be publickly whipt by the master of such house of correction once every month.' Alternatively, where there is no house of correction, 'offenders shall be publickly whipt by the hand of the common hangman or executioner once every month, on the market day,,,, between the hours of eleven and two of the clock.' In addition the Act refers to, 'divers woods, underwoods, copices [that] have been heretofore, and lately set on fire, or burnt, to the great discouragement of planting,' and hence, 'such malicious setting on fire, burning, or causing to be burnt, shall be and is hereby declared and made a felony, and the offenders shall suffer and be liable to all penalties and forfeitures.'

    Obviously the destruction of trees and woodland was taken extremely seriously - and rightly so... perhaps we should replicate such severity with some of the vandals who destroy trees needlessly today. One might start in a certain city in south Yorkshire!

    Thought you might enjoy a bit of detailed examination of the superb royal coat of arms and the elaborate capital letter woodcuts.

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Archie Miles photography

Archie's Blog

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