Kew’s tremendous trees

Kew palmhouse in AutumnKew in the AutumnThe hubby excelled himself with my birthday presents this year. Back in September, on the day itself, I got a gorgeous grey wool winter coat from the littles. (Who are still too little to choose their own pressies, I should note…) It makes me feel as if I’ve stepped into a moody French black and white film when I wear it, as if I should be wandering along the banks of the Seine and meeting with lovers. (Though it’s mostly worn to the playground…)

The crowning glory, however, was my present from the hubby itself: a two day photography course at Kew, getting tips and hints on how to photograph trees. Uh-huh, he knows me well.

I took the course in the tail end of last week, in rather crappy, grey, drizzly weather – nothing like the glorious weekend we’ve just had. (Though that did mean I could wear the new coat.) But even damp and mizzling grey British rain can’t spoil the beauty of Kew, nor my enthusiasm for endless course taking, nor my love of chatting with other people about how nice trees are. Oh, and snapping the odd pic in between.

Ginkgo leavesGinkgo trunkOur course tutor, Edward Parker, seemed to live my dream life. He is a one time environmental campaigner, turned photographer, learning as he went on his travels around the world.

He’s now photographed or written more than 30 books (including Ancient Trees and Photographing Trees which are both now on my Christmas list). He works with awesome organisations like the Eden Project, WWF, and the National Trust. And – if that weren’t enough – also runs a “rural centre for creative and sustainable living” in Dorset called Springhead. I know, I know, I totally wanted to hijack his life too.

He also had fascinating facts about loads of the trees we visited in Kew. The ginkgo, above, for example is the oldest ginkgo in the country. He told us that the evergreen oak opposite it was uprooted in the storms of 1987. As the Kew gardeners went round trying to see to the many tree casualties, they righted the oak, only as temporary measure before they had time to fell it properly, but were astonished to see that it started growing in far ruder health than before. (The earth around its roots had become compacted over many years of people stomping above. Coming right out of the ground had brought oxygen to the roots that the tree needed to grow well…)

Red Autumn leafTree trunkFallen leavesAnd, of course, rain or no, the stunning Autumn colours round Kew led to plenty of time photographing hundreds of leaves. In fact, this selection are my favourites from, erm, around 500 photos I took in the space of two days.

Pine tree at Kew Pine branches

So, in all, a most excellent few days photographing trees. Incidentally, if you share my tree love, I heard recently that if you use the tag #treesfortrees on instagram, then the Heart of England Forest will plant a tree for every tag they see. Which is pretty cool.

Relevant info:

  • Kew runs hundreds of amazing-sounding courses, there is more info on their website: Kew short courses (I can’t see another photographing trees one at the moment, but there are various other photography courses over the next few months).
  • You can see some of Edward Parker’s photography on his website: Edward Parker or check out Springhead if you’re in the market for an eco retreat. It sounded really heavenly as he described it.
  • Finally, take a look at Trees for trees for more info on the tree planting.

15 thoughts on “Kew’s tremendous trees

  1. I’ve only be to Kew once, but loved it. I’m enjoying visiting again via your photographs. So many beautiful trees! Is it okay to be a little jealous of your new great wool coat? I think I need to drop my littles some better birthday hints! 😉 Bee xx

  2. I’m going to have to go look at Edward Parker’s trees right now! I was rather thrilled seeing a Gingko last week at Wakehurst – Kew’s countryside place – which is very close to us. I especially love that final shot of the branch touching the ground.

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