• The Capon Tree - latest archive acquisition

    Just arrived in the archive - this wonderful 1890s lantern slide of The Capon Tree - a celebrated ancient oak near the town of Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders. Taken by the Aberdeen photography company set up by George Washington Wilson, it's a beautifully detailed image of this great old tree & I love the human element to give it scale. Look closely and you can see it must have been quite a long exposure as the man has clearly moved his head. The tree is still in pretty good shape today, although partially collapsed and propped and still one of the main focal points for the annual Jethart Callant's Festival in July. To find out more have a look in my book "The British Oak".

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  • Saltram's special sycamore

    Back on the 5th of the month I was down at Saltram House near Plymouth to give a talk at the SW Tree Wardens Forum and, arriving early, took the opportunity to check out some of the trees in the surrounding parkland. The last time I was at Saltram was about 12 years ago & I remember being astounded by this truly remarkable sycamore then. Happily it's still in pretty good shape, although it appears to have lost one trunk since I was last there. Sitting, as it does, in the middle of the park I wondered how it has taken on this form. Most obviously one would have expected it to have been laid into part of a long disappeared hedgerow, or perhaps one bough may have fallen when it was a relatively young tree, taken root, and simply thrown up a new row of trunks. Then I began to remember some of the big old western red cedars that I've seen in several old parks up & down the land. In Victorian times, when these were planted, a popular park or garden feature was created by pegging down some of the lower boughs, thus creating rather convenient arboreal seating for those perambulating through the park. Could this sycamore be such a feature? I guess we'll never know, but it takes nothing away from what has become quite a remarkable tree.

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  • The apple harvest in full swing

    It's that time of year again & the apple harvest is in full swing. Some trees are laden while others a bit thin, but still reckon we should have about 4 tons of cider apples to bag and deliver. Thankfully the weather has been kind to us lately & it's been really very pleasant to be in the orchard. We've been doing some pruning along the way, getting rid of mistletoe and cutting back quite hard on some of the long straggling growth.

    Many thanks to daughter Ro and her boyfriend John who came up last week and helped shake, gather & bag. I reckon we've already got about 1.5 tons into the cider works.

    Loved the islands and atolls of the cider apples randomly fallen on to the blue tarpaulin ocean - and then there was exhausted Jan & daft Flossie standing on top of her.

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  • "Treescape" has arrived at last

    My new book "Treescape", commissioned in late 2014 by Premier Paper Group of Birmingham, has finally arrived and I must say it has been beautifully produced. It was printed and bound in the UK - something of an unusual event these days with large illustrated books. Both the paper (170g Essential Velvet) and the quality of the reproduction give the book an extermely luxuriant feel. My thanks go to everyone involved in creating something truly special.

    Signed copies of the book will be available from me very soon so please keep an eye on the books pages for details of how to order. Christmas is coming.....

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  • Home from the Hills

    Our annual gathering of old chums to walk the hills was an absolute blast this last weekend with weather you dream of and great light to boot. This year found us at Arrochar at the head of Loch Long in the Argyll Forest Park.

    First day took in The Cobbler (or Ben Arthur), at 2891' just a whisper below a "Munro", but still a good looking hill. There's an interesting rock pillar on the very top with a tricky manoeuvre known as 'threading the needle' to get you atop. The rock was so damp and greasy we all (rather sensibly I reckon) chickened out. On down the northern slopes of the mountain, across the squelchy peat bog (they must have had a fair old bit of rain just lately) and up to Beinn Ime, at 3318' most definitely a "Munro". Fabulous 360 degree views of the whole of the West Highlands. Photographs are fine, but it's being there that counts, soaking it all in - the light and shade, the colours, the ever changing cloudscapes, the overpowering silence and sense of one's place in this vast world. We are but nano-seconds in a multi million year landscape.

    Second day's weather not quite as glorious as the previous day, but still very good for walking & actually made life a little easier temperature-wise on the long slog up Beinn Narnain, at 3040' another "Munro" by a squeak. Sadly the top of the mountain completely wreathed in cloud and a fair old breeze whipping across too. Dropping down to the northeast we were soon back in the sun though & strode on to A'Chrois (2785'). Coming down off this hill I discovered a pair of rowans growing improbably out of a massive boulder.

    Big thanks to Mike for finding a great house (again) and driving us all. Also thanks for stopping on the Loch Lomond road, south of Tarbet, on the way home so I could get a few shots of The Robert the Bruce Yew.

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Archie Miles photography

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