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A Sylvan gift for any tree lover

posted on November 22, 2012
OneOak tree portrait - mounted

OneOak tree portrait – mounted version

With just four weeks to go to Christmas, we have some remaining limited edition prints of the OneOak tree, drawn by internationally-renowned artist Sarah Simblet. Available to buy online from our shop, it would make a perfect Sylvan gift for any tree lover.


More about the Limited Edition Print

A stunning pen and ink portrait of the OneOak tree drawn by internationally-renowned artist, and author of Botany for the Artist, Sarah Simblet. Generously donated to the Sylva Foundation by the artist. All proceeds from sales will be used for our charitable work. Only 100 limited edition prints have been made, and each hand signed and numbered by the artist.

Sarah Simblet is an artist, author and teacher of drawing at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford. Sarah made an original pen and ink drawing of the OneOak tree before it was felled in 2010. In the tradition of the teacher and art critic John Ruskin, her botanical drawings are a great aid to our understanding of the structure of plants by encouraging the viewer to study their intricate detail. Such meticulous drawings made by the human hand can be more compelling than photographs which are now commonplace in everyday life.

Printed with pigment-based inks on acid-free 310gsm FSC grade cotton rag paper, with UV coatings providing light-fastness in excess of 100 years. Double-mounted (where applicable) with off-white cotton rag board. All materials are sustainably sourced. Frames (where applicable) are made with FSC grade ash finished with natural wax.

Visit the Sylva Foundation online our shop


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Rust Spotters Needed

posted on May 24, 2012
RHS logo

Visit the RHS website pear rust page

Sylva has teamed up with the UK’s leading gardening charity, the Royal Horticultural Society, to launch the 2012 pear rust survey under our TreeWatch initiative.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is working with the Sylva Foundation to run a survey in the TreeWatch initiative to map the incidences of European pear rust across the country. Over the last ten years the RHS Advisory Service has seen a steady increase in enquiries suggesting that the fungus is spreading and gardeners are becoming more concerned about its effects.

Both charities are encouraging gardeners to get involved with this survey which is being run between May and September. Anyone wanting to help or provide information can visit: www.TreeWatch.com/pearrust or send samples to the RHS Advisory Service.

European pear rust is a disease caused by the fungus Gymnosporangium sabinae. Like many rusts, it needs two hosts to complete its life cycle. It causes striking orange spots on pear leaves during summer. Junipers are the second host and infected plants produce orange, jelly-like, horn-like outgrowths in spring which produce spores.

“We are keen for gardeners to get involved with this survey because we need to find out why the fungus is increasing in frequency,” says John David, RHS Acting Head of Science. “Having better records will help us understand the biology behind this fungus and therefore in turn hopefully how to control it.”

Chief Executive of Sylva, Dr Gabriel Hemery, says “We are delighted to be working with the RHS again this year to support this important survey. With an increasing number of pests and pathogens impacting the health of our trees, the power of the citizen scientist is coming to the fore. Our collaboration during 2011 resulted in some important data that has now been shared with the National Biodiversity Network: the first time that disease data has been shared with this important national resource.”

Download the Press Release

Category: TreeWatch
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Sylva online shop launched

posted on October 31, 2011
Sylva Online Shop

We are delighted to launch our online shop. We have some wonderful works of art arising from the OneOak project that many people have expressed interest in.  To launch the shop we are initially offering a rare opportunity for people to own a limited edition print of a pen and ink drawing by internationally-renowned artist Sarah Simblet. Over the coming weeks and months we will be adding other artwork and products.

 The OneOak tree portrait

A stunning pen and ink portrait of the OneOak tree drawn by internationally renowned artist, and author of Botany for the Artist, Sarah Simblet. Generously donated to the Sylva Foundation by the artist. All proceeds from sales will be used for our charitable work. Only 100 limited edition prints have been made, and each hand signed and numbered by the artist.

Sarah Simblet is an artist, author and teacher of drawing at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford. Sarah made an original pen and ink drawing of the OneOak tree before it was felled in 2010. In the tradition of the teacher and art critic John Ruskin, her botanical drawings are a great aid to our understanding of the structure of plants by encouraging the viewer to study their intricate detail. Such meticulous drawings made by the human hand can be more compelling than photographs which are now commonplace in everyday life.

Printed with pigment-based inks on acid-free 310gsm FSC grade cotton rag paper, with UV coatings providing light-fastness in excess of 100 years. Double-mounted (where applicable) with off-white cotton rag board. All materials are sustainably sourced. Frames (where applicable) are made with FSC grade ash finished with natural wax.

For further information and prices visit our online shop.


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Children sow a new generation of oak trees

posted on November 5, 2009

Niel Nicholson of Nicholson Nurseries visited Bladon Primary school today to help sow the next generation of oak trees.

We have already posted the story of how difficult it has been to collect acorns this autumn see here. With help from many of the staff of Blenheim Palace, the total number of seeds collected by the children and other volunteers across the whole Blenheim Estate amounted to one bucket-full. The year 2009 has certainly not been a good year for oak seed generation. Not only were there few seeds but many were not viable.

Niel showed the children how good seed (acorns) will sink in water and the children then worked to separate the floating seeds from the healthy sinking seeds. It was disappointing to find that from our collection only 50 were probably healthy seeds. The children counted 1380 acorns that were non-viable!

Undetermined the children got to work sowing the 50 healthy seeds in the rootrainers. Nicholsons will raise the seedlings in their nursery in North Oxfordshire with help from the children during the year. Let’s hope that as many as possible of our precious 50 sown seeds germinate and then survive as seedlings.

Niel Nicholson with Bladon Primary Years 3 and 4 children and teacher Carolyn Thorne

Niel Nicholson with Bladon Primary Years 3 and 4 children and teacher Carolyn Thorne


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How much wood?

posted on October 20, 2009
Phil Koomen and James Binning debating the quality of the OneOak tree

Phil Koomen and James Binning debating the quality of the OneOak tree

Wood gurus James Binning from Deep in Wood sawmill and furniture designer Phil Koomen visited the OneOak tree this week. We asked for their expert opinion as to the possible amount of usable timber we may be able to harvest from the tree. We hope to be able to make many wooden products from the OneOak’s timber and these will need good quality wood – free of knots and bends. Those parts of the tree with such ‘defects’ will be used for other things such as wood for creating heat or energy, or for smaller craft items.

James and Phil thought that it should be possible to cut some good quality timber from the OneOak tree but it may contain less than its large size suggests. There is a heavily-branched section midway up the main stem that may prove difficult to cut to produce the best quality timber.

At the end of the day, foresters only know the quality and quantity of usable timber from a tree when it is felled – so we will have to wait and see!

Category: OneOak project, Wood
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Difficulties collecting acorns

posted on October 13, 2009

Collecting seeds (acorns) from the OneOak tree has been a long-standing plan. Unfortunately the tree had other ideas and has produced very few acorns this year.

Growing a new generation of oak seedlings is an important part of the project as it will actively demonstrate the cycle of life and the sustainablility of growing trees. Nicholson Nurseries have kindly agreed to help the school children who collect acorns to grow them to produce oak seedlings. We plan to plant a new generation of ‘OneOaks’ in autumn 2010.

Problem acorns: small, rotten or infected with Knopper Galls

Problem acorns: small, rotten or infected with Knopper Galls

Oak trees do not produce significant crops of acorns every year. Usually, heavy crops of acorns or ‘mast years’ come once every 4-7 years. It just so happened that 2009 was not a mast year. We have looked long and hard for acorns from our OneOak tree but have found only small and half-formed acorns that would never germinate.

We decided to look elsewhere on the Blenheim Estate so that we could at least collect seeds from the cousins of our OneOak tree. Luckily, other oak woodland areas seem to have produced some acorns although the crop is still very light. Many of the acorns are small or have been infected by the Gall wasp Andricus quercuscalicis that produces the alien-looking Knopper Gall.

Andricus quercuscalicis

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Leaf area measurements

posted on September 30, 2009

Forest Research have now provided us with the results of their analysis of the OneOak tree’s leaf area.

After taking the spectacular images of the tree canopy with the hemispherical camera lens (see post of September 18th), they used special software to calculate how much of the sky was visible underneath the tree.

Leaf Area Index analysis software

Leaf Area Index analysis software

Leaf Area Index or LAI is the ratio of total upper leaf surface of vegetation divided by the surface area of the land on which the vegetation grows read more. Forest Research calculated that the LAI for OneOak was 1.4.

LAI values can range from 0 (no cover) to 6 (dense forest cover). Apparently our result of 1.4 is quite low for a mature broadleaved woodland. Scientists will now use this value in future calculations of the tree’s biomass.


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Stunning canopy images

posted on September 18, 2009

We have received some stunning images of the canopy of the OneOak tree. These were taken when Forest Research scientists visited the tree last week to measure it.

Hemispherical image of the OneOak tree canopy

Hemispherical image of the OneOak tree canopy

Using a fisheye lens fitted to a digital camera, they took hemispherical images looking up into the tree canopy. This produced a complete circular image taking in 180 degrees field of view.

The picture here is one of many taken by the scientists. Back in their laboratory they joined these all together to form a complete picture of the canopy from all angles. They then used special software that calculated the proportions of light and leaves. This gives us the Leaf Area Index.

The Leaf Area Index is used to calculate the biomass of the tree. Read more here.


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Forest Research scientists visit the OneOak tree

posted on September 9, 2009
Forest Research scientists measure the OneOak tree

Forest Research scientists measure the OneOak tree

Matt and Ian from Forest Research visited the tree today. They work with the government research agency as scientists specialising in tree measuring or ‘mensuration’.

Matt brought along a hemispherical camera – basically a normal camera fitted with a fisheye lens. A fisheye produces a picture that takes in an amazing 180 degrees field of view. We will be posting some the images that were taken with the fisheye on the website soon. Images taken looking up at the canopy will be analysed with special software that will calculate the leaf area index – effectively a measure of how much sky is visible between the leaves. This will be used to calculate the biomass of the tree.

Ian used some other equipment to measure tree height, timber height, crown width and stem diameter. Below is a picture of Ian using a hypsometer – this uses pythagoras to calculate (from a known distance from the tree + the the angle to the top of the tree) the total height of the tree. Look carefully at the photograph and you can see the distance to the tree is 36.3m. The tree measurements below it are the three different angle readings to the top of the tree. These will average at about 22.6m. However, after more readings from all directions, the final height of the tree has been estimated to be 23.9m.

We had estimated that the tree was 17.5m. We now know that we were quite inaccurate (or it grew 5+ metres in one year!). We look forward to receiving the detailed results from our friends at Forest Research, and will post them here in the OneOak blog, and on the web pages when available. You can read more on our Tree Facts & Figures page.

A hypsometer is use to measure tree height

A hypsometer being used to measure tree height

Our thanks to Ian and Matt and to Forest Research.


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