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The Art of Ancient Woodlands

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I'm giving a talk at the AGM of Friends of Markstakes Common. 

An ancient oak tree with a twisting trunk and autumn leaves

I will be talking about how the 34 tress on the National Tree Register have fared since the last survey 13 years ago. A few have died, several have lost limbs, others bits, some appear to have changed very little at all. Its hard to take the long view of ancient trees such as oak, beech, hornbeam, silver birch or ash. Maybe the time to review is every 25 years, or in the case of oak trees, every 50 years? And to keep the process going for several hundred years. 

A couple of ink sketches in a drawing pad showing trees

My art and curiosity as a wannabe arborist and environmentalist/woodland manager finds me both drawing and photographing these trees often: across all seasons and in all weathers. I find strong wind attracts me to the woods ... It intrigues me that beech and oak has a different tensile strength, so oak can be spotted growing through a beech tree by the way it bends and blow out of sync with the 'host' tree. Snow is perfect to add highlights to the winter silhouette of a tree. Spring sees the woodland floor covered in wood anemones and bluebells. 

A single bluebell in amongst last year's brown bracken

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Design Museum

Day 13 - Still Positive for Covid-19.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 20 May 2022, 09:18

Carpets of wild garlic in an East Sussex wood in April 2022

Despite feeling full of the joys of spring these last three days I am still showing positive for Covid. To recover from ten days in bed watching Netflix boxsets and binging on TikTok I have taken to long woodland walks seeking out the best that East Sussex can offer.

I have revisited several Woodland Trust woods, while adding other privately owned woods, and woods owned and managed by the likes of the RSPB, Natural England and county councils.

Wild garlic foraged, made into a pesto and added to pasta

I have found some gems: great swathes of wood anemone, carpets of emerging bluebells and dense banks covered in wild garlic. I've even perfected my wild garlic recipe:

Blanch a large handful of wild garlic. Chop finely.

Blend with olive oil, salt, pepper and juice from half a lemon (or less)

Roast a handful of pine nuts. Put through a spice grinder.

Unless vegan, add parmesan and enjoy with pasta.

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