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T h e NEW SYLVA A D i s c o u r s e of

F o r e s t & O r ch a r d T r e e s for the T w e n t y- f i r s t C e n t u ry

Ga b r i e l H e m e ry & S a r a h Si m b l e t

LON DON • N E W DE L H I • N E W YOR K • SY DN EY


T h e NEW SYLVA A D i s c o u r s e of

F o r e s t & O r ch a r d T r e e s for the T w e n t y- f i r s t C e n t u ry

Ga b r i e l H e m e ry & S a r a h Si m b l e t

LON DON • N E W DE L H I • N E W YOR K • SY DN EY


a t a b l e o f th e ch a p t e r s

vii

To the Reader Introductory Note by

ix

Sir Martin Wood FRS

Of the yew Of the juniper Of the redwood Of the red cedar

c ha pt er I

o f j o h n e v e ly n

&

s y lva

Of forestry & the early written word Of seventeenth-century forests Of John Evelyn Of John Evelyn’s Sylva The legacy of Sylva

1 1

4

8

13

16

Of the plane Of the box Of the spindle Of the poplar Of the willow Of the black locust Of the hawthorn Of the quince Of the apple

c ha pt er II

o f t h e e a rt h

Of the environment Of the forest Of the tree

19 19

24 31

Of the medlar Of the cherry Of the blackthorn & plum Of the pear Of the rowan, whitebeam & service-tree

c ha pt er II I

of the tree s

Of the true fir Of the true cedar Of the larch Of the spruce Of the pine Of the Douglas-fir Of the hemlock

45 47

53 57

61

67 77

80

Of the buckthorn Of the elm Of the mulberry Of the sweet chestnut Of the beech Of the oak Of the alder Of the birch Of the hornbeam

85 88 93

99

103 107 110 114 121

126 131

135 138

146 151

156 163 167 172

176

182

230

Of the hazel

236

Of the walnut

245

Of the lime

249

Of the maple

254

Of the horse chestnut

260

Of the dogwood

264

Of the ash

275

Of the holly

278

Of the elder Of the guelder-rose

282

& wayfaring tree

c ha pt e r V

of future forests

Of former futurologists Of forests & government Of the green economy Of climate change Of future trees

&

forest produce

Of people & forests Of forest systems Of new groves Of working the forest Of timber & its uses

287 287 291

307 322

329

Of forest produce

339

Title page: Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) is a majestic tree, which has been used as a focal point in formal landscaping since at least the seventeenth century and

is frequently planted as an ornamental in large gardens and country estates. It produces richly scented timber that is valued in furniture making.

223

226

349 350

359

Historical Context

Further Reading Arboriculture, Forestry & Timber Associations Index The Authors Acknowledgements

197 217

347

Glossary

189

202

346

355

A Note on the Illustrations

o f s i lv i c u l t u r e

343

Of a new wood culture

Tree Species & Their Authorities chap ter IV

343

Cedar oil derived from the leaves, stems and roots of this species and other members of its family has a long history of use in perfumery, providing a spicy base note.

364 366 369 371

372

374

388

389


a t a b l e o f th e ch a p t e r s

vii

To the Reader Introductory Note by

ix

Sir Martin Wood FRS

Of the yew Of the juniper Of the redwood Of the red cedar

c ha pt er I

o f j o h n e v e ly n

&

s y lva

Of forestry & the early written word Of seventeenth-century forests Of John Evelyn Of John Evelyn’s Sylva The legacy of Sylva

1 1

4

8

13

16

Of the plane Of the box Of the spindle Of the poplar Of the willow Of the black locust Of the hawthorn Of the quince Of the apple

c ha pt er II

o f t h e e a rt h

Of the environment Of the forest Of the tree

19 19

24 31

Of the medlar Of the cherry Of the blackthorn & plum Of the pear Of the rowan, whitebeam & service-tree

c ha pt er II I

of the tree s

Of the true fir Of the true cedar Of the larch Of the spruce Of the pine Of the Douglas-fir Of the hemlock

45 47

53 57

61

67 77

80

Of the buckthorn Of the elm Of the mulberry Of the sweet chestnut Of the beech Of the oak Of the alder Of the birch Of the hornbeam

85 88 93

99

103 107 110 114 121

126 131

135 138

146 151

156 163 167 172

176

182

230

Of the hazel

236

Of the walnut

245

Of the lime

249

Of the maple

254

Of the horse chestnut

260

Of the dogwood

264

Of the ash

275

Of the holly

278

Of the elder Of the guelder-rose

282

& wayfaring tree

c ha pt e r V

of future forests

Of former futurologists Of forests & government Of the green economy Of climate change Of future trees

&

forest produce

Of people & forests Of forest systems Of new groves Of working the forest Of timber & its uses

287 287 291

307 322

329

Of forest produce

339

Title page: Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) is a majestic tree, which has been used as a focal point in formal landscaping since at least the seventeenth century and

is frequently planted as an ornamental in large gardens and country estates. It produces richly scented timber that is valued in furniture making.

223

226

349 350

359

Historical Context

Further Reading Arboriculture, Forestry & Timber Associations Index The Authors Acknowledgements

197 217

347

Glossary

189

202

346

355

A Note on the Illustrations

o f s i lv i c u l t u r e

343

Of a new wood culture

Tree Species & Their Authorities chap ter IV

343

Cedar oil derived from the leaves, stems and roots of this species and other members of its family has a long history of use in perfumery, providing a spicy base note.

364 366 369 371

372

374

388

389


a n i n t r o d u ct o r y N o t e from the Sylva Foundation

The small, sour fruits of crab apple (Malus sylvestris) grow to four centimetres in diameter, yellowing when mature. Here, they are seen densely clustered along a young shoot. Fruits remain on the tree until winter, becoming brightly visible in roadside hedges.

In the shoes, or rather the roots, of a forest oak tree, little changes during 350 years. This is, after all, just two or three generations in the life of an oak grown for its timber. In human society, however, the seventeenth century seems more than just an age ago. It was a different epoch. Then, the products and fruits of our trees were firmly in the mind of every man, woman and child as being essential to life. Houses, horse carts, ships, machinery, everyday equipment and food were derived from trees. Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that even amid the emerging scientific revolution of the time, it was the subject of trees and forests that came to the fore. Sylva was the Royal Society’s first printed book. Generations of us have John Evelyn to thank for issuing his appeal for something to be done about the state of the nation’s trees, woods and forests. Today, in the early part of the twenty-first century, we are experiencing a new revolution. Trees and forests are essential to our existence, just as they always have been, but they have the potential to affect our lives in ways that we are only beginning to appreciate. As an engineer by profession, I am always excited by newly emerging technologies. But in my later years, my passion and interest have come back to focus on the natural world. I recognise the need to marry scientific advances with the rekindling of our wood culture.

IX

This is the vision that led me to co-found the Sylva Foundation with Gabriel Hemery in 2008, our purpose being to promote good stewardship of woodlands and encourage sustainable use of forest products. I am delighted that the Sylva Foundation has been able to support The New Sylva, which goes beyond a celebration of Evelyn’s legacy. It is a modern-day clarion call for the creation of a new wood culture that may help to ensure a sustainable and enjoyable future for us all. s i r m a rt i n w o o d f r s co-founder and trustee, s y lva f o u n d at i o n

a n i n t r o d u c t o ry n o t e


a n i n t r o d u ct o r y N o t e from the Sylva Foundation

The small, sour fruits of crab apple (Malus sylvestris) grow to four centimetres in diameter, yellowing when mature. Here, they are seen densely clustered along a young shoot. Fruits remain on the tree until winter, becoming brightly visible in roadside hedges.

In the shoes, or rather the roots, of a forest oak tree, little changes during 350 years. This is, after all, just two or three generations in the life of an oak grown for its timber. In human society, however, the seventeenth century seems more than just an age ago. It was a different epoch. Then, the products and fruits of our trees were firmly in the mind of every man, woman and child as being essential to life. Houses, horse carts, ships, machinery, everyday equipment and food were derived from trees. Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that even amid the emerging scientific revolution of the time, it was the subject of trees and forests that came to the fore. Sylva was the Royal Society’s first printed book. Generations of us have John Evelyn to thank for issuing his appeal for something to be done about the state of the nation’s trees, woods and forests. Today, in the early part of the twenty-first century, we are experiencing a new revolution. Trees and forests are essential to our existence, just as they always have been, but they have the potential to affect our lives in ways that we are only beginning to appreciate. As an engineer by profession, I am always excited by newly emerging technologies. But in my later years, my passion and interest have come back to focus on the natural world. I recognise the need to marry scientific advances with the rekindling of our wood culture.

IX

This is the vision that led me to co-found the Sylva Foundation with Gabriel Hemery in 2008, our purpose being to promote good stewardship of woodlands and encourage sustainable use of forest products. I am delighted that the Sylva Foundation has been able to support The New Sylva, which goes beyond a celebration of Evelyn’s legacy. It is a modern-day clarion call for the creation of a new wood culture that may help to ensure a sustainable and enjoyable future for us all. s i r m a rt i n w o o d f r s co-founder and trustee, s y lva f o u n d at i o n

a n i n t r o d u c t o ry n o t e


Of the

ch e r r y Family: Rosaceae Genus: Prunus

I

Wild cherry trees growing in a woodland edge on the Chiltern Hills. Distinctive horizontal fissures, called lenticels (derived from their lenticular, or lens-like, shape), are visible on the otherwise smooth bark. These enable the tree to breathe (exchange gases between internal tissues and the atmosphere) and visibly distinguish the species in a woodland.

I have my self planted of them, and imparted to my friends, which have thrived exceedingly; but till now did not insert it among the foresters . . . [ j . e .]

With its showy spring blossom, wild cherry is one of our prettiest native trees. It also provides enduringly popular fruit: we know from archaeological remains, particularly those of seed exhumed in excavations of latrines, that wild cherry has been a favourite fruit of man for millennia. Cherry orchards became common after Henry VIII first promoted the tree’s cultivation in the sixteenth century, although traditional varieties were later lost as fruit produced more cheaply in southern Europe was imported and the number of orchards in Britain fell rapidly. When planted on the best-quality soils and subjected to a rigorous weeding and pruning regime, wild cherry can provide high-quality timber for decorative joinery, cabinetmaking and veneer. Its heartwood is deep pinkish brown or honey coloured, with attractive figure and a beautiful lustre that deepens with age.

Biology, distribution & habitat Wild cherry (Prunus avium), also known as gean, mazzard or sweet cherry, is one of two cherries native to Britain, the other being bird cherry (P. padus). Prunus is a large genus, containing two hundred or so species that have suffered a 151

long and bewildering taxonomic history. The confusion is not helped by the Latin name given by Carl Linnaeus to wild cherry, which translates as ‘bird cherry’, the common name of P. padus. In addition, there are myriad common names in everyday use. Other Prunus species significant in Britain are blackthorn (P. spinosa), cherry plum (P. cerasifera) and wild plum (P. domestica) and its subspecies (see p.156). Growing to thirty metres or more in height, wild cherry is a tall yet relatively short-lived tree among our other important broadleaved species. It is native not only in Britain but in much of Europe, its natural range extending to the tip of North Africa and the fringes of western Asia between the Black and Caspian seas. Nowhere does it form naturally large pure stands; rather it occurs in drifts among other broadleaved species, where it will grow straighter than most broadleaves, and along woodland edges, where unfortunately it can lean towards the light, making its timber unusable. Wild cherry suckers freely and can form stands of identical clones. Wild cherry has attractive bark when young, its pale lenticels (see p.359) contrasting prominently with its smooth red-brown bark, but when old it breaks up into large, uniform flakes. Often

o f t h e c h e r ry


Of the

ch e r r y Family: Rosaceae Genus: Prunus

I

Wild cherry trees growing in a woodland edge on the Chiltern Hills. Distinctive horizontal fissures, called lenticels (derived from their lenticular, or lens-like, shape), are visible on the otherwise smooth bark. These enable the tree to breathe (exchange gases between internal tissues and the atmosphere) and visibly distinguish the species in a woodland.

I have my self planted of them, and imparted to my friends, which have thrived exceedingly; but till now did not insert it among the foresters . . . [ j . e .]

With its showy spring blossom, wild cherry is one of our prettiest native trees. It also provides enduringly popular fruit: we know from archaeological remains, particularly those of seed exhumed in excavations of latrines, that wild cherry has been a favourite fruit of man for millennia. Cherry orchards became common after Henry VIII first promoted the tree’s cultivation in the sixteenth century, although traditional varieties were later lost as fruit produced more cheaply in southern Europe was imported and the number of orchards in Britain fell rapidly. When planted on the best-quality soils and subjected to a rigorous weeding and pruning regime, wild cherry can provide high-quality timber for decorative joinery, cabinetmaking and veneer. Its heartwood is deep pinkish brown or honey coloured, with attractive figure and a beautiful lustre that deepens with age.

Biology, distribution & habitat Wild cherry (Prunus avium), also known as gean, mazzard or sweet cherry, is one of two cherries native to Britain, the other being bird cherry (P. padus). Prunus is a large genus, containing two hundred or so species that have suffered a 151

long and bewildering taxonomic history. The confusion is not helped by the Latin name given by Carl Linnaeus to wild cherry, which translates as ‘bird cherry’, the common name of P. padus. In addition, there are myriad common names in everyday use. Other Prunus species significant in Britain are blackthorn (P. spinosa), cherry plum (P. cerasifera) and wild plum (P. domestica) and its subspecies (see p.156). Growing to thirty metres or more in height, wild cherry is a tall yet relatively short-lived tree among our other important broadleaved species. It is native not only in Britain but in much of Europe, its natural range extending to the tip of North Africa and the fringes of western Asia between the Black and Caspian seas. Nowhere does it form naturally large pure stands; rather it occurs in drifts among other broadleaved species, where it will grow straighter than most broadleaves, and along woodland edges, where unfortunately it can lean towards the light, making its timber unusable. Wild cherry suckers freely and can form stands of identical clones. Wild cherry has attractive bark when young, its pale lenticels (see p.359) contrasting prominently with its smooth red-brown bark, but when old it breaks up into large, uniform flakes. Often

o f t h e c h e r ry


small balls of sticky solidified sap, or gum, form on the surface of the bark. Its white five-petalled flowers are hermaphrodite, and hang loosely on long stalks in clusters of up to six. Following pollination by insects, the resulting red globular fruits hang in these clusters. They are attractive to birds, especially thrushes, and, when fallen to the ground, to mammals, which eat the fruit whole and disperse the seed in their droppings. Bird cherry, or hagberry in Scotland, is a medium-sized tree, reaching fourteen metres tall, which has a scattered distribution across much of Britain, with strongholds in the craggy woodlands of northern England, Wales and Scotland, and in the fenlands of East Anglia. Its natural range extends east from Scandinavia as far as Russia and the Balkans, and south to the Iberian peninsula. It has little value as a forestry species, but is an attractive component of mixed broadleaved stands, found often in moist conditions near stream banks or other flush areas, and sometimes in yew woodland. It prefers well-drained soils and requires good light levels to thrive, and can be found up to six hundred metres above sea level in upland woodlands. Unlike wild cherry, it does not regenerate from root suckers. It has dull grey bark and branches that often spread widely from a multi-stemmed centre. The white flowers grow on an upright white raceme (flower spike), which tends to droop as the thirty or more individual flowers it holds mature and swell following fertilisation by insects. Dwarf cherry (Prunus cerasus) is native to south-west Asia, yet it has been in Britain since its introduction in the sixteenth century. It was cultivated for its fruit and is one of the parents of morello cherry. Although a tree of small stature, it can be confused easily with young wild cherry. Most specimens in Britain have been planted deliberately, but occasionally it can be found wild in a hedgerow or woodland edge. When Evelyn wrote of ‘black cherry wood’ (see below), he was referring to wild cherry. The species that we call black cherry today (Prunus serotina) was introduced to Britain probably in 1724, after Evelyn’s death. Black cherry is native to North America across a huge range, stretching south from Nova Scotia through 152

Canada and Minnesota and as far as Texas and Arizona, with a few outliers in Mexico and Guatemala. It does not grow as tall as wild cherry, reaching twenty metres at most, yet it has a broad, spreading crown. It is now widespread in British woods and heaths, where its suckering can make it invasive.

Silviculture Wild cherry produces flowers when relatively young, often less than ten years old, reaching peak production when about thirty years of age. It flowers in April to early May, producing sweet red-black fruit that ripen by July. Collection of seed is typically carried out in September, yet competition from the flocks of birds that gorge on the fruit is always a challenge for the seed collector: netting may be required where feasible. Good seed crops occur roughly every three years. Wild cherry seed exhibits high germination success and is easy to propagate, either by sowing immediately in autumn or by stratifying (see p.313) over winter and sowing in March. It is also easy to raise a new generation by taking softwood cuttings. In the early 1990s, intensive governmentfunded work on wild cherry with a view to its suitability for inclusion in new farm woodlands was initiated by scientists at Horticulture Research International, now East Malling Research, in Kent. Clonal selections based on vigour, branching angle and resistance to diseases (particularly bacterial canker, see p.155) were made from 150 superior, or ‘plus’, trees. Selected trees were propagated using the latest in-vitro micropropagation techniques (see p.315) and the resulting trees tested in field trials during the 1990s and early 2000s. This work led to the commercial release of ten clones under the name Wildstar™, whose supply by nurseries is controlled to ensure that a diverse range of clones is supplied to landowners. Concerns have been expressed by some silvologists that the testing period was rather short, with later independent trials showing that among five of the clones tested only one had full resistance to canker and few had good form. Furthermore,

of the trees

in the absence of a guarantee that more clonal material will be released in future, ten clones provides a small genetic pool to justify such widespread marketing and adoption. Clonal varieties are a useful alternative to seed collected from trees of unknown quality and origin, especially in the absence of provenance guidance. Seed from eastern Europe in particular has proven to be unsuitable for British forestry. Indeed, wild cherry provides a salient lesson in the dangers of being led by a nursery trade anxious to keep costs low. For many years, jam factories in continental Europe were a major source of wild cherry seed for British forestry, but of course the trees producing this seed were bred for fruit-producing qualities that are almost opposite to those required for timber production: a short bole, heavy branches and precocious fruiting rather than vigorous wood growth. Controls were put in place finally, yet inferior seed was used for several decades and many farm woodlands are littered with mediocre wild cherry trees. Prone to deformation unless planted on sheltered sites, wild cherry thrives best on light and deep fertile sites with good humidity (although not waterlogged) and soils with moderately neutral pH. It resembles walnut (see p.240) in many of these respects and, as with that species, the landowner who picks the best spots in the best fields will be rewarded with a rapidly growing producer of valuable hardwood. Wild cherry establishes readily and benefits greatly from tree shelters and a thorough weeding regime for the first three to five years. It has strong apical dominance, meaning that it grows strongly from a central point without producing competing leaders, hence it usually requires no formative pruning (see p.322). It can therefore be spaced more widely than most hardwoods at up to 3 x 3 m (1,100 per hectare). However, its branches, which are produced in whorls, will grow large if not controlled by pruning. Phasing the removal of branches so that only half of a whorl is removed in one year, the remainder the next, can be beneficial, and should be initiated from about four years after establishment. Compared with ash and sycamore, which exhibit fast and effective 153

self-pruning, wild cherry requires continuous artificial high pruning (see p.322) because its dead branches are slow to shed. High pruning of selected trees should be carried out regularly, before branches get too large (more than twenty-five millimetres), for at least five metres above ground level, but at any one time the crown’s depth must be at least fifty per cent of the tree’s total height. The aim, as for all high-value hardwoods, is to limit defects from branches to a knotty core (see p.323), so that when the tree is felled, the knots are limited to a maximum of one third of the stem’s diameter. Wild cherry can be mixed with other hardwood tree species and some of the slowergrowing conifers, especially larch. Its rotation age of fifty to sixty years fits well with ash and walnut. The crown of wild cherry should be kept free-grown (i.e. without competition from neighbouring trees) and thinning should be often and heavy, and never delayed. Trees with larger crowns will respond most vigorously following thinning. This relatively short-lived tree often suffers from rot and dieback from about sixty years of age, so timing its harvest to take place before the timber is affected is always a close call. The ideal stem diameter at harvesting is at least fifty centimetres, and for a typical plantation with trees this size some seventy to ninety stems per hectare would be typical. Yield classes of six to ten cubic metres per hectare per year are typical on most sites.

Timber & other uses The black cherry wood grows sometimes to that bulk, as is fit to make stools with, cabinets, tables, especially the redder sort, which will polish well; also pipes, and musical instruments, the very bark employed for bee-hives . . . [ j . e .] Cherry wood is easy to work, relatively stable when dry and sought after for a wide range of applications. It is particularly suited to turning and moulding, while its attractive figure and colour make it popular for shop fitting and flooring, especially for bedrooms, where it

o f t h e c h e r ry

¶ I


small balls of sticky solidified sap, or gum, form on the surface of the bark. Its white five-petalled flowers are hermaphrodite, and hang loosely on long stalks in clusters of up to six. Following pollination by insects, the resulting red globular fruits hang in these clusters. They are attractive to birds, especially thrushes, and, when fallen to the ground, to mammals, which eat the fruit whole and disperse the seed in their droppings. Bird cherry, or hagberry in Scotland, is a medium-sized tree, reaching fourteen metres tall, which has a scattered distribution across much of Britain, with strongholds in the craggy woodlands of northern England, Wales and Scotland, and in the fenlands of East Anglia. Its natural range extends east from Scandinavia as far as Russia and the Balkans, and south to the Iberian peninsula. It has little value as a forestry species, but is an attractive component of mixed broadleaved stands, found often in moist conditions near stream banks or other flush areas, and sometimes in yew woodland. It prefers well-drained soils and requires good light levels to thrive, and can be found up to six hundred metres above sea level in upland woodlands. Unlike wild cherry, it does not regenerate from root suckers. It has dull grey bark and branches that often spread widely from a multi-stemmed centre. The white flowers grow on an upright white raceme (flower spike), which tends to droop as the thirty or more individual flowers it holds mature and swell following fertilisation by insects. Dwarf cherry (Prunus cerasus) is native to south-west Asia, yet it has been in Britain since its introduction in the sixteenth century. It was cultivated for its fruit and is one of the parents of morello cherry. Although a tree of small stature, it can be confused easily with young wild cherry. Most specimens in Britain have been planted deliberately, but occasionally it can be found wild in a hedgerow or woodland edge. When Evelyn wrote of ‘black cherry wood’ (see below), he was referring to wild cherry. The species that we call black cherry today (Prunus serotina) was introduced to Britain probably in 1724, after Evelyn’s death. Black cherry is native to North America across a huge range, stretching south from Nova Scotia through 152

Canada and Minnesota and as far as Texas and Arizona, with a few outliers in Mexico and Guatemala. It does not grow as tall as wild cherry, reaching twenty metres at most, yet it has a broad, spreading crown. It is now widespread in British woods and heaths, where its suckering can make it invasive.

Silviculture Wild cherry produces flowers when relatively young, often less than ten years old, reaching peak production when about thirty years of age. It flowers in April to early May, producing sweet red-black fruit that ripen by July. Collection of seed is typically carried out in September, yet competition from the flocks of birds that gorge on the fruit is always a challenge for the seed collector: netting may be required where feasible. Good seed crops occur roughly every three years. Wild cherry seed exhibits high germination success and is easy to propagate, either by sowing immediately in autumn or by stratifying (see p.313) over winter and sowing in March. It is also easy to raise a new generation by taking softwood cuttings. In the early 1990s, intensive governmentfunded work on wild cherry with a view to its suitability for inclusion in new farm woodlands was initiated by scientists at Horticulture Research International, now East Malling Research, in Kent. Clonal selections based on vigour, branching angle and resistance to diseases (particularly bacterial canker, see p.155) were made from 150 superior, or ‘plus’, trees. Selected trees were propagated using the latest in-vitro micropropagation techniques (see p.315) and the resulting trees tested in field trials during the 1990s and early 2000s. This work led to the commercial release of ten clones under the name Wildstar™, whose supply by nurseries is controlled to ensure that a diverse range of clones is supplied to landowners. Concerns have been expressed by some silvologists that the testing period was rather short, with later independent trials showing that among five of the clones tested only one had full resistance to canker and few had good form. Furthermore,

of the trees

in the absence of a guarantee that more clonal material will be released in future, ten clones provides a small genetic pool to justify such widespread marketing and adoption. Clonal varieties are a useful alternative to seed collected from trees of unknown quality and origin, especially in the absence of provenance guidance. Seed from eastern Europe in particular has proven to be unsuitable for British forestry. Indeed, wild cherry provides a salient lesson in the dangers of being led by a nursery trade anxious to keep costs low. For many years, jam factories in continental Europe were a major source of wild cherry seed for British forestry, but of course the trees producing this seed were bred for fruit-producing qualities that are almost opposite to those required for timber production: a short bole, heavy branches and precocious fruiting rather than vigorous wood growth. Controls were put in place finally, yet inferior seed was used for several decades and many farm woodlands are littered with mediocre wild cherry trees. Prone to deformation unless planted on sheltered sites, wild cherry thrives best on light and deep fertile sites with good humidity (although not waterlogged) and soils with moderately neutral pH. It resembles walnut (see p.240) in many of these respects and, as with that species, the landowner who picks the best spots in the best fields will be rewarded with a rapidly growing producer of valuable hardwood. Wild cherry establishes readily and benefits greatly from tree shelters and a thorough weeding regime for the first three to five years. It has strong apical dominance, meaning that it grows strongly from a central point without producing competing leaders, hence it usually requires no formative pruning (see p.322). It can therefore be spaced more widely than most hardwoods at up to 3 x 3 m (1,100 per hectare). However, its branches, which are produced in whorls, will grow large if not controlled by pruning. Phasing the removal of branches so that only half of a whorl is removed in one year, the remainder the next, can be beneficial, and should be initiated from about four years after establishment. Compared with ash and sycamore, which exhibit fast and effective 153

self-pruning, wild cherry requires continuous artificial high pruning (see p.322) because its dead branches are slow to shed. High pruning of selected trees should be carried out regularly, before branches get too large (more than twenty-five millimetres), for at least five metres above ground level, but at any one time the crown’s depth must be at least fifty per cent of the tree’s total height. The aim, as for all high-value hardwoods, is to limit defects from branches to a knotty core (see p.323), so that when the tree is felled, the knots are limited to a maximum of one third of the stem’s diameter. Wild cherry can be mixed with other hardwood tree species and some of the slowergrowing conifers, especially larch. Its rotation age of fifty to sixty years fits well with ash and walnut. The crown of wild cherry should be kept free-grown (i.e. without competition from neighbouring trees) and thinning should be often and heavy, and never delayed. Trees with larger crowns will respond most vigorously following thinning. This relatively short-lived tree often suffers from rot and dieback from about sixty years of age, so timing its harvest to take place before the timber is affected is always a close call. The ideal stem diameter at harvesting is at least fifty centimetres, and for a typical plantation with trees this size some seventy to ninety stems per hectare would be typical. Yield classes of six to ten cubic metres per hectare per year are typical on most sites.

Timber & other uses The black cherry wood grows sometimes to that bulk, as is fit to make stools with, cabinets, tables, especially the redder sort, which will polish well; also pipes, and musical instruments, the very bark employed for bee-hives . . . [ j . e .] Cherry wood is easy to work, relatively stable when dry and sought after for a wide range of applications. It is particularly suited to turning and moulding, while its attractive figure and colour make it popular for shop fitting and flooring, especially for bedrooms, where it

o f t h e c h e r ry

¶ I


Bright clusters of delicate, white wild cherry flowers are held on short spurs surrounding smooth-barked stems in spring. Scant leaves occur among flowers, with more developing as fruits set. Small, red, edible cherries are a form of stone fruit called a drupe, in which a single seed develops at the centre of the sweet flesh.

provides a warmer tone than ash or maple. It is used in musical instruments, including pianos and violin bows. The timber can distort easily when drying, and care is required in sticking (see p.335) to reduce defects; if air dried for too long, it can be discoloured by the stickers. Boards are relatively easy to obtain from timber merchants in thicknesses ranging from twenty millimetres to seventy-six millimetres and lengths up to three metres. Most of the cherry timber used currently in Britain is black cherry imported from the US. Wild cherry’s highly desirable fruit is as popular today as it ever was; in Britain, the prevailing taste is for the sweet rather than sour type. Only about three hundred hectares of commercial cherry orchard exist in the UK. The vagaries of the British climate are usually managed with plastic-sheeted tunnels, which cover the dwarf cultivars, with the advantage that domestic production peaks before that of warmer climes.

Pests & diseases Wild cherry suffers from quite a number of tree health issues. Bacterial canker (Pseudomonas syringae pv. morsprunorum) is a common problem for the species, while bird cherry is particularly susceptible to infection by honey fungus (Armillaria mellea). It causes telltale lesions and gum exudations. Genetic diversity

154

of the trees

155

should be encouraged in order to avoid incidences. Cherry leaf spot disease caused by the fungus Blumeriella jaapii causes early leaf loss and reduced vigour and increases susceptibility to frost damage, sometimes proving fatal. The black cherry aphid (Myzus cerasi ) wreaks severe economic damage in cherry orchards, causing leaf curling, shoot deformation and premature leaf fall. It also carries several viruses that are spread between different plant species. Cherry is not favoured by the grey squirrel, but its foliage is liked by all species of deer.

The future This rapid-growing species with its much sought-after timber is an attractive proposition for landowners. Although likely to remain a minor species in mixed woodlands, it would be beneficial to include it more in woodland edges, as specimen trees in hedgerows, drifts in urban woodlands and as a highly productive component of novel agroforestry schemes. There is no reason why British-grown wild cherry could not compete with the import of its North American relative that currently dominates markets. Its attractive blossom and autumn colour provide added value to the landscape. Planting of bird cherry in certain landscapes and areas of high conservation value is encouraged, because it supports many insects in summer and feeding birds in winter.

o f t h e c h e r ry


Bright clusters of delicate, white wild cherry flowers are held on short spurs surrounding smooth-barked stems in spring. Scant leaves occur among flowers, with more developing as fruits set. Small, red, edible cherries are a form of stone fruit called a drupe, in which a single seed develops at the centre of the sweet flesh.

provides a warmer tone than ash or maple. It is used in musical instruments, including pianos and violin bows. The timber can distort easily when drying, and care is required in sticking (see p.335) to reduce defects; if air dried for too long, it can be discoloured by the stickers. Boards are relatively easy to obtain from timber merchants in thicknesses ranging from twenty millimetres to seventy-six millimetres and lengths up to three metres. Most of the cherry timber used currently in Britain is black cherry imported from the US. Wild cherry’s highly desirable fruit is as popular today as it ever was; in Britain, the prevailing taste is for the sweet rather than sour type. Only about three hundred hectares of commercial cherry orchard exist in the UK. The vagaries of the British climate are usually managed with plastic-sheeted tunnels, which cover the dwarf cultivars, with the advantage that domestic production peaks before that of warmer climes.

Pests & diseases Wild cherry suffers from quite a number of tree health issues. Bacterial canker (Pseudomonas syringae pv. morsprunorum) is a common problem for the species, while bird cherry is particularly susceptible to infection by honey fungus (Armillaria mellea). It causes telltale lesions and gum exudations. Genetic diversity

154

of the trees

155

should be encouraged in order to avoid incidences. Cherry leaf spot disease caused by the fungus Blumeriella jaapii causes early leaf loss and reduced vigour and increases susceptibility to frost damage, sometimes proving fatal. The black cherry aphid (Myzus cerasi ) wreaks severe economic damage in cherry orchards, causing leaf curling, shoot deformation and premature leaf fall. It also carries several viruses that are spread between different plant species. Cherry is not favoured by the grey squirrel, but its foliage is liked by all species of deer.

The future This rapid-growing species with its much sought-after timber is an attractive proposition for landowners. Although likely to remain a minor species in mixed woodlands, it would be beneficial to include it more in woodland edges, as specimen trees in hedgerows, drifts in urban woodlands and as a highly productive component of novel agroforestry schemes. There is no reason why British-grown wild cherry could not compete with the import of its North American relative that currently dominates markets. Its attractive blossom and autumn colour provide added value to the landscape. Planting of bird cherry in certain landscapes and areas of high conservation value is encouraged, because it supports many insects in summer and feeding birds in winter.

o f t h e c h e r ry


Of the

from morphological studies and has been shown by a recent genetic study to be distinct from bullace: the greengage (P. domestica subsp. x italica). Its fruit is partially transparent, the stone being visible through the flesh. Cherry plum, sometimes known as myrobalan plum, is a hardy and small tree that is commonly found growing wild, and planted, in hedgerows and woodland edges. It grows vigorously and taller than wild plum, up to fifteen metres, and has a spreading crown. It is one of our first trees to flower in spring, even before blackthorn, with which it may be confused – distinguishing features are the absence of spines on closer inspection and the colour of its flowers, being white rather than creamy white. In autumn, its yellow or red fruit are also dissimilar. Cherry plum closely resembles mirabelle in the appearance of its fruit, foliage and sparsely spined branches, yet genetic studies have shown it to be distinct. Various cultivars of cherry plum have been produced. The red- and purple-leaf varieties are popular with gardeners thanks to their small size, showy blossom and tasty fruit. With its vicious spines, formed at the end of each side shoot, blackthorn is unmistakable. In early spring, its creamy white hermaphrodite flowers appear in advance of its leaves. These are followed later in the year by small dark fruit, which are bitter and sour to human tastebuds. Blackthorn is common across Britain in hedgerows and woodland edges, where it can form impenetrable scrubs. It provides safe nesting sites for many birds that nest in the first one to two metres above ground. They include nightingale, yellowhammer and the extraordinary and very rare red-backed shrike – the so-called butcher bird – which impales its prey on the tree’s spines. Blackthorn is the larval food plant for at least 150 insect species, including black and brown hairstreak and swallowtail butterflies.

b l a ckth o r n & plum Family: Rosaceae Genus: Prunus

I

. . . many thorny plums (which are best for grain, colour, and gloss) afford, comparable (for divers curious uses) with any we have enumerated . . . [ j . e .]

Introduced to Britain long before records began, the plum has since become thoroughly naturalised in our countryside and deeply rooted in culinary traditions. The popularity of its delicious sweet fruit led to it being widely cultivated, which in combination with natural breeding has resulted in a large number of varieties and subspecies that have been variously identified and often taxonomically disputed. There are two main species of plum widespread in Britain: wild plum (Prunus domestica) – whose many subspecies and varieties include the damson, mirabelle and greengage – and cherry plum (P. cerasifera). The closely related blackthorn (P. spinosa), whose tart purple fruits (sloes) reveal their charms when steeped in gin, is an ancestor of wild plum and a British native.

Biology, distribution & habitat Wild plum is a small tree, growing to a maximum of twelve metres, whose flowers emerge at the same time as its leaves in early spring. It can be found growing in hedgerows, woodland edges, 156

copses, spinneys and waste ground. Its drupe (a type of fruit), the plum, is highly variable in size, colour, shape and taste. Three subspecies or varieties of wild plum are generally recognised. Cultivated plum (Prunus domestica subsp. domestica) is the domesticated form, which can be recognised by its spineless, sparsely pubescent (hairs almost absent) twigs and large fruit, which contains a flattened stone. Bullace (P. domestica subsp. insititia) is highly variable with two common forms: black bullace, with dark purple fruit, and shepherd’s bullace, which has a yellow fruit. Both have densely pubescent and often spiny twigs, and their spherical fruit contains a relatively rounded stone. Damson is another form of the same subspecies, and can be distinguished by more oval fruit that is always dark in colour. Mirabelle is usually classified as another variety of bullace, but sometimes it is described as a subspecies of wild plum in its own right: Prunus domestica subsp. syriaca. Mirabelle plums are round and yellow, usually gaining a flecked red blush, and are smaller and sweeter than other bullace forms. Finally, an intermediate form between wild plum and bullace is recognised

of the trees

Silviculture Most ‘wild’ forms of plum are grown from seed, which after collecting are best sown outdoors immediately and protected from vermin. The seed requires eight to twelve weeks of cold 157

stratification, but the rigours of two winters sometimes need to be endured before seedlings appear. Propagation from cuttings is also possible: semi-hardwood cuttings with a heel should be collected in August. All species of plum can also be layered (see p.231) in winter or spring and removed from the parent during the following winter. Cultivated plum varieties are always grafted, often on a rootstock that reduces tree size and encourages early fruiting. A popular rootstock for domestic plum is ‘St Julien’, a variety of bullace. Plums prefer soils with good moisture retentiveness; they will tolerate loams, clays and chalky soils providing these are relatively pH-neutral and not waterlogged. Although fruiting is most precocious in full sun, they will grow in light shade. In Britain, the best fruiting is in areas with colder winters because in milder regions, such as the South West, early flowering is promoted that can result in increased risk of frost damage. The south and east of England are particularly suitable, although the unreliable British summer, with its high humidity and rain during the ripening period, can cause skin splitting and rotting, while yield and quality can be highly variable with season. Cultivated varieties grown for fruit production do not require precise pruning like apples and pears, but they will benefit from some initial training. Pruning should take place in early spring to avoid infection by silver leaf disease (see p.161), the old wood removed to encourage flowering and fruit production. Commercial plum orchards have been in steady decline due to the availability of imported fresh fruit and canned products. Given the difficulties experienced by commercial growers, as described above, the ongoing research and development into fruit breeding taking place at East Malling Research in Kent is encouraging. Old varieties, such as ‘Victoria’, are reliable even in the harshest places; this self-fertile dessert and culinary plum grows to between two and four metres in height, depending on the rootstock, producing dark red fruit in August and September. ‘Marjorie’s Seedling’, ‘Early Laxton’ and ‘Blue Tit’ are excellent varieties for British conditions, among many hundreds to

of the blackthorn

&

plum


Of the

from morphological studies and has been shown by a recent genetic study to be distinct from bullace: the greengage (P. domestica subsp. x italica). Its fruit is partially transparent, the stone being visible through the flesh. Cherry plum, sometimes known as myrobalan plum, is a hardy and small tree that is commonly found growing wild, and planted, in hedgerows and woodland edges. It grows vigorously and taller than wild plum, up to fifteen metres, and has a spreading crown. It is one of our first trees to flower in spring, even before blackthorn, with which it may be confused – distinguishing features are the absence of spines on closer inspection and the colour of its flowers, being white rather than creamy white. In autumn, its yellow or red fruit are also dissimilar. Cherry plum closely resembles mirabelle in the appearance of its fruit, foliage and sparsely spined branches, yet genetic studies have shown it to be distinct. Various cultivars of cherry plum have been produced. The red- and purple-leaf varieties are popular with gardeners thanks to their small size, showy blossom and tasty fruit. With its vicious spines, formed at the end of each side shoot, blackthorn is unmistakable. In early spring, its creamy white hermaphrodite flowers appear in advance of its leaves. These are followed later in the year by small dark fruit, which are bitter and sour to human tastebuds. Blackthorn is common across Britain in hedgerows and woodland edges, where it can form impenetrable scrubs. It provides safe nesting sites for many birds that nest in the first one to two metres above ground. They include nightingale, yellowhammer and the extraordinary and very rare red-backed shrike – the so-called butcher bird – which impales its prey on the tree’s spines. Blackthorn is the larval food plant for at least 150 insect species, including black and brown hairstreak and swallowtail butterflies.

b l a ckth o r n & plum Family: Rosaceae Genus: Prunus

I

. . . many thorny plums (which are best for grain, colour, and gloss) afford, comparable (for divers curious uses) with any we have enumerated . . . [ j . e .]

Introduced to Britain long before records began, the plum has since become thoroughly naturalised in our countryside and deeply rooted in culinary traditions. The popularity of its delicious sweet fruit led to it being widely cultivated, which in combination with natural breeding has resulted in a large number of varieties and subspecies that have been variously identified and often taxonomically disputed. There are two main species of plum widespread in Britain: wild plum (Prunus domestica) – whose many subspecies and varieties include the damson, mirabelle and greengage – and cherry plum (P. cerasifera). The closely related blackthorn (P. spinosa), whose tart purple fruits (sloes) reveal their charms when steeped in gin, is an ancestor of wild plum and a British native.

Biology, distribution & habitat Wild plum is a small tree, growing to a maximum of twelve metres, whose flowers emerge at the same time as its leaves in early spring. It can be found growing in hedgerows, woodland edges, 156

copses, spinneys and waste ground. Its drupe (a type of fruit), the plum, is highly variable in size, colour, shape and taste. Three subspecies or varieties of wild plum are generally recognised. Cultivated plum (Prunus domestica subsp. domestica) is the domesticated form, which can be recognised by its spineless, sparsely pubescent (hairs almost absent) twigs and large fruit, which contains a flattened stone. Bullace (P. domestica subsp. insititia) is highly variable with two common forms: black bullace, with dark purple fruit, and shepherd’s bullace, which has a yellow fruit. Both have densely pubescent and often spiny twigs, and their spherical fruit contains a relatively rounded stone. Damson is another form of the same subspecies, and can be distinguished by more oval fruit that is always dark in colour. Mirabelle is usually classified as another variety of bullace, but sometimes it is described as a subspecies of wild plum in its own right: Prunus domestica subsp. syriaca. Mirabelle plums are round and yellow, usually gaining a flecked red blush, and are smaller and sweeter than other bullace forms. Finally, an intermediate form between wild plum and bullace is recognised

of the trees

Silviculture Most ‘wild’ forms of plum are grown from seed, which after collecting are best sown outdoors immediately and protected from vermin. The seed requires eight to twelve weeks of cold 157

stratification, but the rigours of two winters sometimes need to be endured before seedlings appear. Propagation from cuttings is also possible: semi-hardwood cuttings with a heel should be collected in August. All species of plum can also be layered (see p.231) in winter or spring and removed from the parent during the following winter. Cultivated plum varieties are always grafted, often on a rootstock that reduces tree size and encourages early fruiting. A popular rootstock for domestic plum is ‘St Julien’, a variety of bullace. Plums prefer soils with good moisture retentiveness; they will tolerate loams, clays and chalky soils providing these are relatively pH-neutral and not waterlogged. Although fruiting is most precocious in full sun, they will grow in light shade. In Britain, the best fruiting is in areas with colder winters because in milder regions, such as the South West, early flowering is promoted that can result in increased risk of frost damage. The south and east of England are particularly suitable, although the unreliable British summer, with its high humidity and rain during the ripening period, can cause skin splitting and rotting, while yield and quality can be highly variable with season. Cultivated varieties grown for fruit production do not require precise pruning like apples and pears, but they will benefit from some initial training. Pruning should take place in early spring to avoid infection by silver leaf disease (see p.161), the old wood removed to encourage flowering and fruit production. Commercial plum orchards have been in steady decline due to the availability of imported fresh fruit and canned products. Given the difficulties experienced by commercial growers, as described above, the ongoing research and development into fruit breeding taking place at East Malling Research in Kent is encouraging. Old varieties, such as ‘Victoria’, are reliable even in the harshest places; this self-fertile dessert and culinary plum grows to between two and four metres in height, depending on the rootstock, producing dark red fruit in August and September. ‘Marjorie’s Seedling’, ‘Early Laxton’ and ‘Blue Tit’ are excellent varieties for British conditions, among many hundreds to

of the blackthorn

&

plum


choose from, together with myriad damson and greengage varieties. Plums are best grown in small groups with excellent shelter, as in walled gardens, and best of all when trained against south-facing walls. In commercial orchards in continental Europe, the trees are mechanically shaken to release their fruit in autumn. I

. . . there are none of the spinous shrubs more hardy, none that make a more glorious shew, nor fitter for our defence, competently armed . . . for its terrible and almost irresistible spines, able almost to pierce a coat of mail . . . [ j . e .] All species of plum are to be commended as hedgerow plants, being easy to lay (see pp.305–7) and regenerating rapidly when cut. Their flowers add visual diversity and ecological richness to boundaries, as well as food for many forms of life. Blackthorn forms a truly formi-

dable barrier when laid in a hedgerow, yet it is challenging to work with. Its long thorns penetrate human flesh with ease, producing an acute local inflammatory reaction. If not extracted immediately, the thorn can cause synovitis in and around joints, tenderness around tendon sheaths and cysts. A poultice of magnesium sulphate applied with a dressing is effective in drawing out an unwilling thorn. Curiously, the inflammation usually disappears as soon as the thorn is removed, a fact that still mystifies the medical world, although unproven theories centre on certain alkaloids present in the tree.

Âś

Timber & other uses Plum timber is rarely available in a size or quantity that makes it commercially significant. Hobbyists and professional woodworkers demand it,

The creamy white hermaphrodite flowers of blackthorn appear before the leaves and are among the first hedgerow blossoms of early spring. Blackish stems bear fierce thorns, enabling the plant to become an impenetrable thicket, perfect for hedging and a habitat for small birds. Larger stems make good walking sticks and the legendary Irish cudgel.

158

of the trees

159

of the blackthorn

&

plum


choose from, together with myriad damson and greengage varieties. Plums are best grown in small groups with excellent shelter, as in walled gardens, and best of all when trained against south-facing walls. In commercial orchards in continental Europe, the trees are mechanically shaken to release their fruit in autumn. I

. . . there are none of the spinous shrubs more hardy, none that make a more glorious shew, nor fitter for our defence, competently armed . . . for its terrible and almost irresistible spines, able almost to pierce a coat of mail . . . [ j . e .] All species of plum are to be commended as hedgerow plants, being easy to lay (see pp.305–7) and regenerating rapidly when cut. Their flowers add visual diversity and ecological richness to boundaries, as well as food for many forms of life. Blackthorn forms a truly formi-

dable barrier when laid in a hedgerow, yet it is challenging to work with. Its long thorns penetrate human flesh with ease, producing an acute local inflammatory reaction. If not extracted immediately, the thorn can cause synovitis in and around joints, tenderness around tendon sheaths and cysts. A poultice of magnesium sulphate applied with a dressing is effective in drawing out an unwilling thorn. Curiously, the inflammation usually disappears as soon as the thorn is removed, a fact that still mystifies the medical world, although unproven theories centre on certain alkaloids present in the tree.

Âś

Timber & other uses Plum timber is rarely available in a size or quantity that makes it commercially significant. Hobbyists and professional woodworkers demand it,

The creamy white hermaphrodite flowers of blackthorn appear before the leaves and are among the first hedgerow blossoms of early spring. Blackish stems bear fierce thorns, enabling the plant to become an impenetrable thicket, perfect for hedging and a habitat for small birds. Larger stems make good walking sticks and the legendary Irish cudgel.

158

of the trees

159

of the blackthorn

&

plum


however, and delight in its rich and beautiful figure. It can be pale and moderately plain yet also feature prominent streaks and waves of red and purple. Sometimes it features burr figure. Plum timber can be difficult to dry without cracking. Its fine texture and natural lustre can be finished to a very fine surface and, like many fruitwoods, it is favoured by woodturners and cabinetmakers for small decorative items. Blackthorn timber is similarly attractive but scarce in large sizes. Popular for walking sticks and the legendary Irish cudgel known as the shillelagh, it can be carved and turned into attractive bowls, spoons and handles for small tools. Blackthorn makes excellent firewood when dried well. The more usual purpose of plum culture is for fruits, whether plum, bullace, damson, mirabelle 160

or greengage. Each has distinctive culinary properties. Plums can be eaten fresh from the tree, dried and stored for winter as prunes or used in cooked products. Damsons and bullaces, the latter slightly smaller and rounder, are tart in flavour and more often cooked in jams and tarts, although cultivated varieties that are sweet when fully mature are now available. Mirabelle plums are excellent fresh: most commercial production takes place in France, especially the Lorraine region, for the manufacture of both jam and the colourless fruit brandy eau de vie. Greengages are perhaps the finest of dessert plums. Plums are used traditionally to make country liqueurs, as are sloes. For sloe gin, ripe sloes (those that yield to the touch) should be picked after the first frost of autumn and used to half-fill an empty glass bottle. Topped up with

of the trees

good-quality gin and left for three months, the resulting liqueur, popular at Christmas, can be sweetened with a simple syrup (made with equal parts caster sugar and water). The tart-yetsweet nature of damsons makes them ideal for soaking in gin; they require less added sugar than sloes. Damson wine was once a popular English drink considered equal to port. In Slavic countries, varieties of bullace are used to manufacture slivovitz (plum brandy).

The bitter sloes produced by blackthorn trees are a form of stone fruit called a drupe, which has a single seed at its centre. Sloes mature in autumn to dark blue with a dusty bloom.

Âś

Pests & diseases Plums are particularly prone to the fungal disease silver leaf (Chondrostereum purpureum). This is apparent as a silver sheen on leaves, causing them to drop, and will result eventually in the death of the branch. Pruning in summer 161

reduces susceptibility. Other fungal diseases include blossom wilt and brown rot. Bacterial canker can kill entire branches. Insect pests include plum moth and plum sawfly, whose larvae burrow into the fruits, making them misshapen, unappetising and unsellable.

Âś

The future There are surely few better sights than a drift of flowering wild plum, cherry plum or blackthorn trees along a woodland edge or hedgerow in spring. All landowners are encouraged to include these vibrant species in their planting repertoires. With a warming climate, flowering is likely to begin earlier in spring but be shorter in duration. Selection of drought-tolerant cultivars for orchards is likely to be important.

of the blackthorn

&

plum


however, and delight in its rich and beautiful figure. It can be pale and moderately plain yet also feature prominent streaks and waves of red and purple. Sometimes it features burr figure. Plum timber can be difficult to dry without cracking. Its fine texture and natural lustre can be finished to a very fine surface and, like many fruitwoods, it is favoured by woodturners and cabinetmakers for small decorative items. Blackthorn timber is similarly attractive but scarce in large sizes. Popular for walking sticks and the legendary Irish cudgel known as the shillelagh, it can be carved and turned into attractive bowls, spoons and handles for small tools. Blackthorn makes excellent firewood when dried well. The more usual purpose of plum culture is for fruits, whether plum, bullace, damson, mirabelle 160

or greengage. Each has distinctive culinary properties. Plums can be eaten fresh from the tree, dried and stored for winter as prunes or used in cooked products. Damsons and bullaces, the latter slightly smaller and rounder, are tart in flavour and more often cooked in jams and tarts, although cultivated varieties that are sweet when fully mature are now available. Mirabelle plums are excellent fresh: most commercial production takes place in France, especially the Lorraine region, for the manufacture of both jam and the colourless fruit brandy eau de vie. Greengages are perhaps the finest of dessert plums. Plums are used traditionally to make country liqueurs, as are sloes. For sloe gin, ripe sloes (those that yield to the touch) should be picked after the first frost of autumn and used to half-fill an empty glass bottle. Topped up with

of the trees

good-quality gin and left for three months, the resulting liqueur, popular at Christmas, can be sweetened with a simple syrup (made with equal parts caster sugar and water). The tart-yetsweet nature of damsons makes them ideal for soaking in gin; they require less added sugar than sloes. Damson wine was once a popular English drink considered equal to port. In Slavic countries, varieties of bullace are used to manufacture slivovitz (plum brandy).

The bitter sloes produced by blackthorn trees are a form of stone fruit called a drupe, which has a single seed at its centre. Sloes mature in autumn to dark blue with a dusty bloom.

Âś

Pests & diseases Plums are particularly prone to the fungal disease silver leaf (Chondrostereum purpureum). This is apparent as a silver sheen on leaves, causing them to drop, and will result eventually in the death of the branch. Pruning in summer 161

reduces susceptibility. Other fungal diseases include blossom wilt and brown rot. Bacterial canker can kill entire branches. Insect pests include plum moth and plum sawfly, whose larvae burrow into the fruits, making them misshapen, unappetising and unsellable.

Âś

The future There are surely few better sights than a drift of flowering wild plum, cherry plum or blackthorn trees along a woodland edge or hedgerow in spring. All landowners are encouraged to include these vibrant species in their planting repertoires. With a warming climate, flowering is likely to begin earlier in spring but be shorter in duration. Selection of drought-tolerant cultivars for orchards is likely to be important.

of the blackthorn

&

plum


t h e A u th o r s

a ck n o w l e dg e m e n t s

I

D r Ga b riel He me ry is a silvologist and a

D r S ara h Si m bl et is a fine artist, writer,

passionate advocate for trees and forestry. Starting his career in nature reserve management, he focussed increasingly on trees, becoming a specialist in hardwood forestry. He was awarded a DPhil from the University of Oxford for research on walnut genetics and silviculture. Gabriel has since authored more than seventy technical papers and articles, and collaborated widely in international research projects. During the 1990s, Gabriel designed a unique thirty-hectare woodland, Paradise Wood, in Oxfordshire, where he personally planted many tens of thousands of trees. He developed a vision for it as Britain’s first independent field research centre dedicated to hardwood trees, establishing numerous companion field trials across Britain, such as the Jaguar walnut trials at Lount in the National Forest. In the PINE project, he helped pioneer the introduction of broiler chickens into farm woodlands. He served for six years as a member of a Regional Advisory Committee for the Forestry Commission, and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Foresters. As chief executive of the Sylva Foundation, which he co-founded in 2008, he has overseen several initiatives, including myForest, an online resource for woodland owners and managers, and the OneOak project. His personal blog, GabrielHemery.com, has become a popular forestry and tree resource. During 2011, together with other prominent environmentalists, he formed the ginger group Our Forests to provide a voice for all who are concerned about the future of England’s forests. He lives in rural Oxfordshire and is married with three children.

broadcaster and anatomist, whose work explores the relationship between science, history and art. The author of Anatomy for the Artist (2001), The Drawing Book (2005) and Botany for the Artist (2010), she is dedicated to sharing and encouraging visual intelligence in others through her drawings, teaching and broadcasting worldwide. She is a tutor in anatomy at the Ruskin School of Art at the University of Oxford, where she also teaches annual summer school courses, and is a lecturer at the National Gallery in London, where she works with young children. As an academic consultant, she has contributed to national exhibitions at venues such as the Wellcome Trust and Science Museum, and in 2005 she was a judge of the Jerwood Drawing Prize. Sarah has contributed to many radio and television programmes about art, science and culture made in Britain and overseas, including the landmark BBC2 series The Secret of Drawing (2005), which was based on The Drawing Book. She has reconstructed controversial works of art, such as La Bella Principessa, recently attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, in order to examine how and when they were made, and in her work with the anatomist Gunther von Hagens she has taken part in live debates about public education and access to scientific knowledge. Her drawings are held in national and private collections, including the Royal Academy of Art, Ashmolean Museum and V&A. She works and lives in Oxfordshire, and is married to the artist and writer Brian Catling.

388

the authors

. . . assisted by divers worthy persons (whose names I am prone to celebrate with all just respects) . . . [ j . e .]

We have enjoyed the privilege of collaborating with an incredible team of people at Bloomsbury Publishing and Grade Design, whose vision, guidance and dedicated support enabled the creation of this book. We are especially indebted to Richard Atkinson, Natalie Bellos, Rachael Oakden, Pete Dawson, Louise Evans, Alison Glossop, Barbara Roby, Marina Asenjo, Vicki Robinson, Lynsey Sutherland and Madeleine Feeny. We are also greatly indebted to Rosemary Scoular of United Agents for her ongoing support in representing us. Many individuals generously gave their time and expertise in acting as advisors, or by helping to locate material for drawings and giving access to collections, estates and forests, especially Peter Baxter, Anthony Becvar, James Binning, Francis Chester-Master, Roy Cox, Ian Edwards, Brian Fraser, Pauline and Peter Hamilton-Leggett, Stephen Harris, Ben and Rita Henderson, Nick Hoare, Richard Jinks, Ben Jones, Robin Lane Fox, Karl Lofthouse, Kirsty Monk, Rodney Melville, Phil Morgan, Ben Oliver, Paul Orsi, Katherine Owen, David Pearman, David Pengelly, Andy Poore, Tom Price, David Rice, Peter Savill, Claire Shepherd, Zoë Simmons, Graham Taylor, Christine Tilbury, Tristan Vetta, Baron and Baroness von Maltzahn, Sir Hereward and Lady Wake, Timothy Walker, John Weir, Sir Martin and Lady Wood. The New Sylva was supported by numerous organisations, and most especially by the sponsorship of the Sylva Foundation, whose trustees we gratefully acknowledge. We also wish to thank Benmore Botanic Garden, Blenheim Palace, Botanical Society of the 389

British Isles, Chequers Estate, Earth Trust, East Sussex County Council, Epping Forest (City of London), Forest Research, Forestry Commission England, Forestry Commission Scotland, Forestry Commission Wales/Natural Resources Wales, Great Tew Estate, Institute of Chartered Foresters, Magdalen College (Oxford), New College (Oxford), National Trust, Oakover Nurseries (Kent), Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Royal Society, Stourhead (Western) Estate, University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum, University of Oxford Department of Plant Sciences and Herbaria Collections, Westonbirt National Arboretum, Woodland Trust.

Gabriel Hemery For inspiration, encouragement and guidance throughout this endeavour I pay tribute to fellow foresters. There is truly no greater profession, comprising – to borrow a phrase from John Evelyn – such ‘rare and choice’ men and women. So many contributed to this book in all conceivable ways, and I owe a huge debt to them all. Chief among these are my colleagues at the Sylva Foundation: Lesley Best, Richard Pigott, Paul Orsi and Alistair Yeomans. I am personally beholden to Sir Martin and Lady Wood, founding trustees of the Sylva Foundation, for their foresight and personal support over two decades. My wife, Jane, and children Ella, Tom and Will, endured my writing activities – at all times of the day and night, and in acknowledgements


First published in Great Britain 2014 Copyright Š by Gabriel Hemery & Sarah Simblet 2014 The moral right of the authors has been asserted No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square, London wc1b 3dp www.bloomsbury.com Bloomsbury is a trademark of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc Bloomsbury Publishing, London, New Delhi, New York and Sydney A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library isbn 978 1 4088 3544 9 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 design: Peter Dawson and Louise Evans, www.gradedesign.com The text of this book is set in Foundry Wilson. Created by Foundry Types, it is an expertly crafted revival of a typeface originally cut in 1760 by the Scottish type founder Alexander Wilson. Printed and bound in Barcelona, Spain by Tallers Gràfics Soler newsylva.com



THE NEW SYLVA