A microscopic view

Sarah Simblet has been making the most of the cold weather, retreating indoors to illustrate some of nature’s tiny hidden wonders using a microscope.

Drawing of a female Scots Pine cone in preparation by Sarah Simblet

Exploring the collection of materials at the University of Oxford’s Herbarium, Sarah found a cross-section of a female cone from a Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris. The photos here show just how tiny the sample was, yet Sarah’s drawing may fill a whole page of The New Sylva book. Sarah said that it was tiring to draw the subject when her eyes had to adjust repeatedly between the bright light of the microscope viewer and the black inks on her drawing paper.

The slide of the female Scots Pine cone chosen for illustrating
The slide of a female Scots Pine cone chosen for illustrating

When John Evelyn was writing his Sylva almost 350 years ago, the microscope was just beginning to reveal an amazing new view of the world. One year after Sylva was published, Robert Hooke’s Micrographia was published, also by the Royal Society, in 1665.