Rest day! I feel much better, especially after a lie-in; the clocks went back an hour. Actually, they went back yesterday but our hosts decided to tell us today! At last we have had some time to wash our clothes (10 days into the expedition), and thanks to the sunny weather they were dry by evening. The family have been winnowing sunflower seeds and bagging them under the shade of the apple orchard.Continue Reading

Some years ago I had the privilege of visiting a leading maker of fine guns, James Purdey and Sons of London (Est. 1814), where I met their wood expert and buyer. The common or English walnut (Juglans regia) is the wood of choice for gunmaking as it has superior strengthContinue Reading

We’ve been here one week today but time seems immeasurable: it feels like a lifetime ago that my companion, Peter Savill, and I left London Heathrow. We had another good day collecting walnuts; this time in a new area further East. Mid-morning, we’d stopped in a remote area for our usual snack of chai and lepyoshkas …Continue Reading

What are the top ten most important priorities facing trees in the 21st Century? Policy is traditionally led by civil servants with the agenda of delivering Government policies.  However, these may not always reflect the views and the vision of the experts and practitioners amongst an industry.  They may alsoContinue Reading

Young forest trees often require some form of ‘formative’ shaping or pruning during the first 5-10 years after planting.  I co-wrote a practical guide on this subject for Woodland Heritage, and created the artwork that I’ve reproduced here.     Young trees may require pruning for a variety of reasons,Continue Reading

Forestry is in the news this week; a rare-enough event in the British media.   An apparent Government leak suggests that the Forestry Commission will be forced to sell off much of the private estate in England (probably not Wales and definately not Scotland).  There could be benefits and of courseContinue Reading

Nature brings us gifts in abundance at this time of year.  I was lucky to enjoy one after another during a brief visit to a jewel in England’s woodlands: the Forest of Dean. I soaked in the view from Symonds Yat Rock, a popular landmark in the Forest, where theContinue Reading

I spent over a decade as a forest scientist working to improve the genetic quality of various hardwood tree species.  To put it another way, to maniupate NATURE.  It became increasingly obvious to me that we must never ignore NURTURE.  We must work with both nature and nurture when creatingContinue Reading

The diversity of the walnut world always holds surprises and today I received a fascinating enquiry.  Donna Beveridge wrote to me with a plea for help in sourcing walnuts for sick Parrots on the tiny Scottish island of Kerrera (population 35): “I am a volunteer at The Island Parrot SanctuaryContinue Reading

Today I met legendary chef Raymond Blanc, at the stunning Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons.  We met to discuss the combining of chickens and egg production with organic fruit production in orchards.  Hopefully RB and I will be working together on an exciting new project in the future. I willContinue Reading

Today we collected seeds from a valley near Gava village. Mamajan headed off to Jalal-Abad seeking permission to collect seeds from this area. After starting promptly at 0900 and having a productive morning, we unfortunately had to walk back to the farmstead for lunch; a round trip of at least 2.5 hours. I have found …Continue Reading