The authors of The New Sylva have been searching for a few elusive botanical specimens to illustrate for the book. Last week they visited one of the best locations for any tree hunter: Britain’s national arboretum at Westonbirt, in Gloucestershire, which features some 2,500 different tree species.
They required samples from a number of conifer species that, within a single branch, had to feature foliage (needles) together with this season’s young cones and mature cones produced the previous year. The best specimens are found on mature trees and so are often far beyond reach. With help from Forestry Commission staff a 5m telescopic pruning pole was used for some sampling, whilst for material higher up, the tree had to be climbed and the samples gently lowered to the ground.
Since the visit, our Artist-in-Residence Sarah Simblet has started work on drawing the specimens, including some foliage and cones of Norway spruce collected from high up a large tree.
Sylva is planning to collaborate with Westonbirt Arboretum during 2014 to promote the importance of our wood culture: more information will be provided on this soon.
For the latest news about the making of The New Sylva, to be published by Bloomsbury in April 2014, visit the author’s blog: www.NewSylva.com