Earlier this week the authors visited a very unusual and special woodland. Lying at the heart of the UK Prime Minister’s official country residence at Chequers is a woodland of box Buxus sempervirens.

Sarah Simblet working on a drawing of the box woodland at Chequers

Box is known to many as a small shrub that is used in finely clipped hedges and topiary. Yet it in the wild it will grow up to 9m tall and produce a stem over 15cm in diameter. However, the stems of box grow only 1mm every two to three years; some of those visible behind Sarah in this photo are at least 200 years old, probably more.

“I need not speak much of the uses of this tree, (growing in time to considerable stature) so continually sought after for many utensils, being so hard, close and pondrous as to sink like lead in water.”

John Evelyn, 1664.

We spent a wonderful day in the amazing box woodland. Eventually we found the perfect view for Sarah to draw but not before having to crawl on hands and knees through the dense undergrowth of box stems and branches for some hours.

Sarah Simblet at work on a drawing of box woodland

The authors are very grateful to the Chequers Estate for their permission and support.

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