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In praise of Pines.

In praise of Pines.

by Chris ~ 11 May, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Pine trees are found across the world, there are over one hundred different species.  Many are native to the coniferous forests  (Taiga) of the Northern Hemisphere.  Their evergreen needles (leaves) offer shade in summer, and the trees may offer a degree of shelter from the winds of autumn and winter.  Gardeners and foresters 'like' Pines as they generally tolerate nutrient poor and somewhat dry soils.   In the period after WW2,  considerable areas of ‘low grade’ land were pressed into service (in the U.K.).   Areas around Thetford and Kielder were used, as were some sandy coastal sites (for example,  Holkham in Norfolk) and many large tracts of land in Scotland.  Pines are central to the business of agroforestry in places like the U.K,  New Zealand and Brazil, providing a source of lumber.    Read more...

The Monthly Mushroom: Dryad’s Saddle (Polyporus squamosus)

The Monthly Mushroom: Dryad’s Saddle (Polyporus squamosus)

by Jasper ~ 4 May, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Bracket fungi encompass a host of species that typically grow in tough semicircular shelves on tree trunks, logs and branches, their mycelium consuming both the living and the dead wood within (although there are some soil-dwelling types that form mycorrhizal relationships with their hosts). For more on mycorrhizal fungi, see this previous posting on Fly Agarics.  The term has been applied in a general fashion to various examples on the basis of the physical form of the fruiting bodies rather than any genetic kinship. As such it includes such notable edibles as the Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) also known as the Sulphur Shelf, and the grisly looking Beefsteak fungus (Fistulina hepatica), which oozes a blood-red liquid when cut (featured image)

Read more...

The Hangi : a traditional Maori cooking technique

The Hangi : a traditional Maori cooking technique

by David Alty ~ 1 May, 2018 ~ comments welcome

The Hangi is a traditional Maori cooking technique using heated rocks buried in a pit.   I have long wanted to have a go at this ancient cooking technique. When we received an invitation from good friends to join a weekend gathering in the woods I seized the opportunity and suggested a Saturday evening Hangi. Receiving an enthusiastic response I rang a local game dealer and enquired as to the supply of venison. “Ring back next Tuesday when the van is in, if there are any on you can have one.”

Having set myself up for the event, tension mounted as Tuesday approached. Read more...

Solid fuels and wood burning stoves,

Solid fuels and wood burning stoves,

by Lewis ~ 30 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

During the last decade, a market has developed for wood burning stoves. and sales have soared to 200,000 a year.   Wood burning stoves are marketed as ‘eco friendly’, ‘low emission’ and as offering ‘savings on fuel costs’.   Indeed, not only has the woodlands blog written about the pros and cons of different woods in stoves, but Angus has written enthusiastically about the installation of his wood burning stove (it keeps the house warm and reduces carbon emissions).

However, some are beginning to question the wisdom of installing wood stoves.    The market for wood fuel has grown in parallel with the installation of these stoves.   To meet the demand for wood fuel, even some areas of natural woodland have been felled.    For example, mature oaks from Ryton Wood near Coventry were felled to provide fuel for log burning.   Indeed, more wood from British woodland is being burnt now than at any time since the industrial revolution.     Read more...

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (and arboretum)

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (and arboretum)

by Chris ~ 25 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Whilst in Edinburgh recently, I was able to visit the Royal Botanic Garden.  This garden dates back to 1670 when it was established as a physic garden; now it consists of some 70 acres of landscaped grounds close to the city centre (and easily accessible on one of the tourist buses).  During the last 100 years, three Regional Gardens have also been acquired –  Benmore in Argyll; Dawyck in the Scottish Borders and Logan on the  southern peninsula of Dumfries & Galloway.  Together they constitute one of the world’s largest collections of living plants (the Edinburgh garden also houses the Herbarium - which is 'home' to some three million specimens). Read more...

Lignum Vitae - A wood so unique it was used in the first nuclear-powered submarines

Lignum Vitae – A wood so unique it was used in the first nuclear-powered submarines

by Oliver ~ 20 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Lignum Vitae, Latin for the ‘tree of life’, has a set of properties that cause a newfound awe in natural materials. Also known as Ironwood, it is the hardest and heaviest traded wood, being 3 to 4 times the hardness of English Oak. It was the alleged medicinal properties of Lignum Vitae which have earned it the title ‘tree of life’.  Sometimes brewed into a tea or as a herbal medicine; historically - it was used to treat symptoms of gout, arthritis and syphilis. Its properties / uses are still being explored. Read more...

Trees as indicators of erosion

Trees as indicators of erosion

by Chris Colley ~ 19 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

We are all familiar with the idea of coastal erosion,  houses near the cliff edge or situated on sandy dunes fall away as the shore is battered by high tides and fierce  winds - this has been seen most recently at Hemsby in Norfolk; sometimes whole communities disappear into the sea (think Dunwich). Many areas of the East Anglian coast have been and are subject to the ravages of the sea. Read more...

Woodlands, meditation and 'being at one with nature'

Woodlands, meditation and ‘being at one with nature’

by Tamara Watters ~ 17 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

We have had our woodland for just over a year and it has ben hugely exciting and a little overwhelming. Neither my husband or myself have the practical skills required for taking care of the woods. We are both more philosophical and reflective people. My vision is that our children and grandchildren and future generations will maintain and offer new creative projects in the woods. It is very much a far reaching vision, growing with time like the trees.  

My passion is our relationship with nature as an evolving conversation deepening our sense of connectivity and meaning. Nature has always been a healing resource and a spiritual solace for me.   Read more...

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