2018 in Trees

It might sound simple, but trees are without doubt one of the things which makes me happiest in this world. Their architectural limbs during winter; that joyous first flush of green in the springtime; the cacophony of life they support in the summer and the glowing hues of autumn – all through the year they can lift the spirit into their boughs. Here are a few of my favourite photographs from 2018.

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This photograph shows the veins in a lime seed wing with the tree in the background – I love the echo beteen the parent tree and the wing which will take its tiny progeny to a new place to germinate.
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We walked the Peddar’s Way in spring this year – from Thetford all the way to the coast at Holme next the Sea. The green tracks with overarched by mature trees were a joy to walk beneath.
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Another photograph taken along the Peddar’s Way – I love the imagery of the broadleaf trees with lances drawn against the arrayed army of conifers in the plantation; however these are more likely a stress response to the intense shading of the industrial plantation.
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Scilly is one of the places in the UK where elms have held out against Dutch Elm disease – likely primarily due to their relative isolation from the mainland. This was taken of young growth in the centre of St Mary’s
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This photograph was taken in mid-summer but the fallen lime wings made it look as though autumn had come early. This green arched footpath leads down towards Sedgewick Meadows in Grantham
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Limes seem to have figured highly in my photographs this year – this is a lime avenue in a Northamptonshire Estate where we undertook tree climb & inspect surveys one misty morning in autumn
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One of my favourite trees in Richmond Park which brings back memories of my dissertation there many years ago – the Royal Oak is estimated to be 750 years old!
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The silver birch is a typical pioneer tree species of Sherwood, well suited to the sandy, heathy soils. These were taken as the bracken leaves browned in November.
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Whilst obviously not a fan of the inert conifer plantations which pass for ‘woods’ in too many places, there is an undeniable beauty to their straight, uniform structures especially when the light is right!

 

 

2018 in Wildflowers

As anybody who follows my twitter feed will know, wildflowers are a constant source of inspiration and fascination for me. Here are a few of my favourite finds from 2018

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This tiny forget-me-not is called changing forget-me-not because of the way the petal colour changes as the flowers mature – they start off yellow/cream and brighten to blue in time
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Red campion is a common wildflower in the midlands, especially in shady habitats like hedgerows and woodland edges. It can be a beautifully architectural plant
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Wood sorrel is a woodland wildflower of early spring – this was taken in the Quantock Hills in a pine plantation.
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Wood anemone are a characteristic indicator of ancient woodland – spreading at a rate of only a few metres per year, they are testement to the continuity of the habitat
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Green winged orchids are one of the first to flower in the spring – I am lucky enough to live very close to Muston Meadows which has a stunning display each year
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An ancient woodland in South Wales rewarded me with herb paris this year – the first time I’ve seen this species in perfect flower in the UK
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Pasque flowers are a real rarity these days, but are emblamatic enough to be the designated County Flower of two different counties in England. This one taken at Barnack Hills and Holes NNR
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A sea of English Bluebells with a mighty fallen oak branch to lend character to the sunlit scene
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Oxlip is one of our rarest wildflowers – the ancient woodland of Hayley Wood near Cambridge is one of the best places to enjoy them amongst the bluebells
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There can be few sights more synonymous with springtime that the white of greater stitchwort and the bright blue of the bluebell amongst the fresh green leaves
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The limestone grasslands which punctuated the Peddar’s Way in May rewarded us with these salad burnet – tiny red stars set within a globular flower head
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A trip to see the fly orchids in Bedford Purleius NNR has become something of an annual tradition now – they never fail to delight!
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A new species for me this year and a wonderful treasure hunt to find it – violet helleborine in Bedford Purleuis NNR
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Small but stunning – the arable flora on St Mary’s, Scilly away from the industrial scale agriculture of the mainland meant a host of scarce arable wildflowers persist, such as this small-flowered catchfly
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Yellow bartsia – a relative of yellow rattle and eyebright – was another first for me on the Isles of Scilly
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Pale toadflax established on a railway arch near the Thames
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Black nightshade is a member of the same family as potato and tomato and could be found flowering right up until Christmas!
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Wild snake’s head fritillaries flowering in Portholme Meadow, Huntingdon
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Cowslips flowering along the cycle path which passes along the Grantham Canal in early springtime
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Harebell flowering in the dry grasslands in the meadows above Grantham
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Early purple orchid amongst the bluebells and greater stitchwort flowers in a woodland edge in Lincolnshire