• Crowhurst Yew added to the archive

    Latest addition to the tree image archive is this c1900 depiction of the Crowhurst Yew in Surrey. The image was spotted online, described as 'a large tree in a cemetery', and although it was reproduced backwards way round I knew straight away what it was.

    The tree was first measured in 1630 and found to have a girth of about 9.15 metres at chest height. Evelyn mentions it in his "Sylva" of 1664, as do numerous other topographical writers and tree buffs up to the present day, with current measurement coming in around the 10 metre mark. So in a shade under 300 years the tree has only put on 85 cms of growth. Age estimations vary widely, from about 1500 through to 4000 years. Who knows?

    This positive image from the original glass negative that I have acquired shows the tree with the door into its hollow interior standing open. It is said that the tree was actually hollowed out around 1820 (although I suspect this was merely a slight enlargement of an already hollow interior) and a bench placed inside that could seat 12 people (surely an exaggeration) as well as a table (please!).

    I went to photograph the tree back in 2002 as part of the start of the "Heritage Trees of Britain" project.

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  • A rare mistletoe tree

    After 30 years of living with mistletoe here in its Herefordshire heartland I spotted a first the other day - a horse chestnut in a pasture close to Ewyas Harold with several very large clumps of mistletoe. Looking online there are one or two mentions of this tree as a host, but no images. I wonder just how rare this.

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  • We've got a truffle hound

    Our new young Scottie is really finding her place here at the farm and today she amazed us all. Jan caught her scrabbling away excitedly in a shady corner of the garden & when she went to see what she was up to discovered that she had unearthed a summer truffle and was about to devour it. As it was quite an old one (apparently they are at their best during the sumer months - hence the name I suppose) we thought it best to relieve her of her prize. Lived here nearly 30 years and never seen one... but then we weren't looking and I'm sure our noses aren't as keen as Jessie's.

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  • Tree chopping with Mr. Gladstone

    Latest acquisition for the tree image archive rather oddly finds an early postcard entitled "Mr. Gladstone tree felling at Hawarden". The Liberal P.M. was rather more noted for his penchant for chopping down trees on his Flintshire estate rather than planting them (although I have little doubt that he did plant some). Here we see him with axe shouldered and his family arrayed around the fallen giant. It would appear that the local vicar was also visiting on this day, and the looming form of the big house is visible in the distance.

    The image is taken from a photograph of 1888 by Samuel E. Poulton. Postcards are seldom associated with the Victorian era, but I suspect that this one may have been printed before Gladstone's death in 1898 as a very interesting contemporary text on the reverse seems to indicate.

    The photogravure postcard was published and sold by Mr. Jones at the local post office in Hawarden, and may well have been stocked into the early years of the 20th century, but I believe the text suggests an earlier date for this example. Text as follows:

    'The men sitting on the tree are W.H. Gladstone [Gladstone's son, who seems to have an axe on his legs, so must have been helping his father] & the Rev. W. Drew. The children in the pony carriage are W.H. Gladstone's - Mrs. Gladstone [Catherine] in the large cloak.

    I asked the lodge woman if Mr. Gladstone really cut down the trees in Hawarden Park, & she said, "Oh yes indeed - but not lately, not since he has been so old; but before, oh yes - very often." [this statement surely indicates that Gladstone was still alive at this point, thus pointing to a date prior to 1898] - But there are so many trees left that one wonders why he didn't cut down more - You can see the favorite pony-carriage [with a donkey in charge on this day] too - it reminds me of the Queen.

    What a splendid little vignette of social history with a gratuitous tree felling thrown in for the benefit of the photographer perhaps. Maybe I misjudge - and the tree was ailing - we'll never know, but this fascinating postcard with its unique inscription is a real gem.

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  • One damson tree

    Following on from my last post, this shows you exactly what one tree can do. All the trunks in this picture apart from that on the far right (an early prolific plum) are one tree - five satellite trees around the one old stager with a prop. This suckering is a wonderful way for a tree to promote its future, and since the tree must originally have been a sucker transplanted from another tree or a seedling then all the 'children' trees come true to type. Further down the orchard we have a damson, bought & planted some twenty years ago to replace a fallen veteran. Clearly this was a grafted tree as its suckers have created a small spinney of wild plum trees (the nursery root stock) with rather tasteless small green plums, but fabulous for making jam.

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