• The biggest cherry in Herefordshire

    I've lived here for 25 years and must have passed this tree, barely six miles down the road, on many occasions, but perhaps I just never travelled that road before when it was in flower. Stopped pretty smartly when I saw this mass of cherry blossom over the hedge top near Acton Green. Could it be several trees? No, it was one absolute whopper, with a smaller tree close by.

    Wild cherry trees of this magnitude are few and far between, and this one has a girth of about 13 feet, but it's hard to be very accurate as there are so many bumps and burrs all over the bole. Also very difficult to age such a tree, but I don't think 150-200 years would be out of the question.

    Rather fine to have some very pretty and almost theatrically trained sheep in the field too. Instead of hurtling off into a distant corner they were more than happy to pose.

    I shot a few pictures in the middle of the day, but the light was a bit harsh, so a return visit about 6.30 gave me some beautiful mellow evening light.

    The bits of wood wedged up in the main fork of the boughs are the remains of a tree house that Stuart, the owner, once built for his children. His wife Pauline was so worried about them falling out of it that he later had to dismantle it (or most of it). Still, all part of the tree's history. How much longer it will survive nobody knows, but at least the smaller tree beside it currently helps to protect it from the southwesterlies that blast over the hill top.



  • Big trees from last couple of days

    Out & about over the last couple of days and the light has been splendid. Caught up with some old tree friends and discovered something new and special.

    In Ravenshill Wood, Lulsley, on Thursday and wanted to have a look at some big old small-leaved lime coppice stools along one of the wood bank boundaries. Still looking a bit bare and wintery, but I did discover this exceptional field maple coppice stool on the same boundary. There's certainly a sense that at least part of it was once laid into the hedge. So many field maples are almost 'lost' within the confines of hedges and woods that they often go unnoticed. The same day, at Leigh, chanced upon a statuesque native black poplar that I'd never spotted before. There's always something new to discover.

    Wednesday I was heading through Fownhope and saw this impressive magnolia bursting over the wall from quite a small garden. One does see plenty of them in gardens at this time of year, but this is one of the largest specimens that I've come across around here. A shame that these trees have such a short flowering spell and then look very ordinary for the rest of the year, but maybe it's worth it just to enjoy this fleeting glory.

    Yesterday I was up at Croft Castle and checking in with some very old tree chums - the entrancing ancient sweet chestnuts (only about 450 years old!). This has to be one of the best locations in Britain to see so many old chestnuts together.



  • A gentle stroll along the pier

    Easter week and Jan & I decided to escape for a day. J has always said she'd love to see Clevedon Pier - once noted by none other than Sir John Betjeman as 'the most beautiful pier in England'.

    Never been to Clevedon before and I have to say it still has something of that genteel Victorian air about it. Some classic 19th century architecture, much of it in the Italianate style, and little gems like the beautiful and recently restored 1895 water fountain with delicious tiling by Doulton of Lambeth. I'd know those colours anywhere.

    The pier is a cracker (even though there is lots of construction work under way at the landward end). Completed in 1869, it is the epitomy of Victorian elegance. By 1970 the pier was in a pretty sorry state, so a mixture of local fundraising and grant assistance enabled a full restoration to be undertaken - Clevedon Pier Preservation Society was formed in 1972. The pier reopened in 1989. It is 312 metres long and 5 metres wide, with eight 30 metre spans leading to the pavilion on the end where, we can both safely vouch you will find an excellent little tea shop. I think we both felt a bit genteel too, sipping our cuppas and basking in the April sun.

    All along the boardwalk, on the deck and the side walls are scores of tiny little brass plates commemorating loved ones, births, deaths, marriages, families and plenty of general daftness. Great fun! We even spotted Gryff Rhys Jones (well, his brass plate anyway). For a few pounds towards the upkeep of the pier you can have your own little plate.

    In 2013 it was voted Pier of the Year. Quite right.



  • Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a sycamore!

    Wonderful new addition to the historical archive today. It may be entitled The Plane Tree, but this is Scotland, so of course it's a sycamore. A splendid etching by James Fittler A.R.A. from a drawing by John Claude Nattes, published in "Scotia Depicta" in 1804.

    'Many parts of Scotland completely refute the splenetic remark of a late eminent writer, who asserted, that North Britain did not produce a tree: and this plate is an evident proof of that fallacy. This beautiful Plane Tree is growing on the estate of John Sterling, Esq. of Kippenross, in the county of Perth, about a mile from Dumblane. The circumference at its base is tenty-eight feet nine inches, and it begins to branch at the height of thirty feet.'

    Sadly, the tree is long gone, but what a monster it must have been. More than that, could this be one of the earliest depictions of tree-huggers?



  • A welcome burst of colour

    Spotted this little tree on my travels yesterday - Silver Wattle or Mimosa tree is one of the Acacias and an import from Australia. The tree has become naturalised in many parts of the world, and I remember seeing it in the Med. Although it may reach 30 metres in height in its native range it seldom grows very large in this country, and may be susceptible to harsh frosts, but to see its startling yellow flowers on a chilly March day certainly lifts the spirits.



Archie Miles photography

Archie's Blog

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