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Posts tagged ‘Paradise Wood’

A growing woodland 2015

July 9, 2015

Gabriel Hemery

The same year that I started planting Paradise Wood, a new forest and centre for forestry research in Oxfordshire, I started recording a view of the former arable farm from the nearby vantage point of the Wittenham Clumps.

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2015 is the 19th year of photographing the same view of the landscape, albeit with some gaps between some years.

My first post about this photomonitoring project provides more information about the location – read more

A growing woodland 2012

June 11, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

Paradise Wood photomonitoring 2012

The same year that I started planting Paradise Wood, a new forest and centre for forestry research in Oxfordshire, I started recording a view of the former arable farm from a nearby vantage point.

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2012 is the seventeenth year of photographing the same view of the landscape, albeit with some gaps between some years.

My first post about this photomonitoring project, in 2010, provides more information about the location – read more

Watching a forest grow

October 2, 2010

Gabriel Hemery

The same year that I started planting Paradise Wood , a new forest and centre for forestry research in Oxfordshire, I started recording a view of the former arable farm from a nearby vantage point.

The Wittenham Clumps provided a perfect place to view the low-lying fields to the north, looking towards the village of Long Wittenham.  The first photograph was taken in 1993.  Unfortunately this did not include the entire width of the future forest although from 1996 onwards a full view is captured.

The photograph catalogue so far is 1993, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2010.  I am sure that I haven’t run this photomonitoring project as well as I should.  The images don’t align exactly when closely compared.  In my defense the fence corner post that I used to mark the position was removed sometime in 1998, and the format changed from 35mm slide to digital format too.

The pictures certainly make for a fascinating record of a changing landscape over a 17 year period, which I intend to continue.

Gabriel Hemery

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Bird’s eye view of a growing woodland

September 19, 2010

Gabriel Hemery

I recently came across a bird’s eye view of the farmland at College Farm in Southern Oxfordshire, before I had designed and started the planting of two new woodlands: Paradise Wood and Neptune Wood.

The aerial photograph, taken in 1991, clearly shows that College Farm was an arable desert.  Wheat was grown right up to the edges of the ditches, crowding the few hedgerow trees that narrowly escaped the plough every autumn.  Look at the main dark green area in the 1991 image (left), and compare it with the 2009 image (right).  Click on the them to see as larger images.

The dramatic landscape changes that have occurred 18 years later are obvious to see.  Some 60,000 trees now grow where wheat once dominated.  When you explore the new woodlands on foot, where wildlife was largely absent, tawny owl and orchid, woodcock and speckled wood butterfly, compete for your attention among the trees in Paradise Wood.  The local community has planted thousands of trees and enjoy free access through the smaller Neptune woodland (notice the ‘figure of 8’ path in the 2009 image).

Take a look at the growing woodlands in the most recent Google Maps image here.  It is possible to zoom right in and to see the individual trees and forest rides.  Look closely and you might even see me walking through the trees with my dog!

Gabriel Hemery

Transforming the landscape

July 11, 2010

Gabriel Hemery

In 1995 I took a series of panoramic photos and made sketches to explore how Paradise Wood, the new woodland that I was creating for the Northmoor Trust, would fit in the landscape of the future.  I was developing Paradise Wood as a new woodland and a centre for forestry research.  My vision was to plant miles of new hedgerows, and to sow a new wildflower meadow in which I would plant some oak trees to create pasture woodland.

Paradise Wood SE panorama 1995

Paradise Wood SE panorama 1995

The view-point chosen was the south-east corner (OS Grid Reference SU562932), looking north-west across the large farmland site that was designated for the new woodland in southern Oxfordshire, England.  You can see in the photograph above that the flat landscape was mostly featureless, with no hedgerows and few trees, and wall-to-wall with wheat.  Look carefully at the righthand side of the photograph and you can spot the young large-leaved lime trees that had been recently planted alongside the road to create an avenue.  These were the first trees I planted on the site, in winter 1992/93.

Panorama landscape sketches 1995

Panorama landscape sketches showing actual (1995) and future (2050) views

The sketches above depict the same view and were made in 1995.  I also included a vision for how the same view might appear fifty five years later in 2050.  Notice that I had illustrated the planting of the new hedge to the left (west).

Panorama view of Paradise Wood in July 2010 from the SE

Panorama view of Paradise Wood in July 2010 from the SE

So, here is the view taken this year in July 2010.  Although only 15 years later the transformation of the landscape is dramatic.  The hedgerow on the left is looking mature.  The wildflower meadow in the foreground is rich with colour and life,  and a new footpath crosses the meadow towards the growing woodland.  The lime avenue to the right is thriving.    Also notice the feature oak trees starting to become prominent landscape features near the back of the meadow as a pasture woodland in the future.  You can see an interesting aerial view of the meadow and woodland in Google Maps.

Gabriel Hemery

Talking walnuts with Roger Deakin

June 22, 2010

Gabriel Hemery

I met the late environmental broadcaster and writer Roger Deakin (b. February 11th 1943 and d. August 19th 2006) when he came to visit the walnut trials I had established at Paradise Wood in Oxfordshire. He was researching for his book, Wildwood: a journey through trees, that would become his last, published in 2007.

Roger Deakin's Wildwood

Roger Deakin's Wildwood

Roger came to learn more about my walnut seed collecting expedition to Kyrgyzstan, and to see the walnut research field trials in Oxfordshire (Wildwood p. 148). He came as a member of the Walnut Club; a short-lived group dedicated to walnutters interested in growing walnuts for their fruit and timber, then supported by Horticulture Research International.

Our meeting led to him pursuing many in my walnut network including Robin Bircham in Suffolk, Peter Savill in Oxford, and Jaguar Cars: summed up in his beautiful prose in the chapter Among Jaguars. He later describes his own travels to Kyrgyzstan, including his explorations amongst the walnut forests in the south.

Gabriel Hemery

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