Visit to a forest of the future

There remain many botanical parts of trees to be drawn and a few whole trees to be depicted by Sarah Simblet, yet a forest visited this week by the authors will be one of the last whole treescapes to feature in The New Sylva.

The authors visited Brechfa Forest Gardens near Abergorlech in Carmarthenshire. During the 1950s and 60s some 90 different potentially productive forest tree species were planted there by the Forestry Commission to study how they would survive and grow, and whether they would be productive. Whilst some have failed completely, others are thriving in the moist atmosphere of this sheltered Welsh valley.

The study visit was made as part of our research for the final chapter of The New Sylva, which is looking to the future. We were particularly interested in a stand of sugi or Japanese red cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) and were delighted to find it not only thriving and in good health, but growing in a beautiful part of the valley near to the babbling River Gorlech.

Sarah Simblet at work on a drawing for The New Sylva at Brechfa Forest Gardens
Sarah Simblet at work on a drawing for The New Sylva at Brechfa Forest Gardens

Sarah found a comfortable seat on a riverside rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) opposite the stand of futuristic sugi which towered above at 27m tall.

We are very grateful to local arboriculturist David Rice for his support, and to Forestry Commission Wales (now Natural Resources Wales).

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