[This year I have decided to study two big Horse Chestnut trees near our house. This is Part 6 of my sketchbook-learnings.]
These are the last few weeks of the dense, dark, green canopies. Slowly, slowly the golds will creep in and the burnt oranges will light their flames. Autumn’s winds will blow holes in the canopy until it thins out to the most stubborn of the leaves. I love autumn, a lot, but I’m trying to enjoy the green while it is still here. Come February I’ll be longing for the those forty shades. The Horse Chestnut that hangs over the drive into Drygrange is already beginning to show signs of gold. It is gradually turning from top down. The bottom leaves, though, are still vibrant and luscious. I went to sketch them a couple of weeks ago to try to record the tree at her peak before autumn takes hold. I had Pig with me so it was a very brief sketching session! I bribed a little bit of patience with a biscuit (I’m that parent already!). I think I’d like to work on a more developed drawing of the canopy back in the studio when I get a chance. The big fingers of the Horse Chestnut leaves make wonderful shapes when you are standing on the ground looking up.
This year I’ve been reading along with Richard Fortey’s book The Wood for the Trees which charts a year in the woodland he owns. He has a passage describing a journey into the beech canopy on a cherry picker. This is it:
The platform twists and swivels … as it rises to avoid overhanging beech branches. The ascent is like passing through a series of extended curtains decked in fresh leaves. We rise speedily, the foliage occasionally brushing my face, and then – quite suddenly – we break through the canopy. We must be at least eighty feet off the ground… The treetops billow out in all directions, an extraordinary rough sea of breaking waves of foliage and above, nothing but the sky.”
Doesn’t it sound magical?! I think seeing getting the chance to draw our woodland from the attic layer of the canopy will have to be on my bucket list. That reminds me of a great business that Tim, someone I’ve come across through Instagram, runs. He gives people the opportunity to climb tall trees and experience what it is like to be high in the canopy. He even has a hammock up there! He talks about how you experience how alive the whole tree is – the bark, the branches, the leaves, the birds, the insects. He says that “something magical happens at that moment when you find yourself way above the ground, safe within the tree canopy. Your breathing matches the gentle sway of the tree’s branches, its rhythm of living that feels like breathing almost.” Through Tim’s business, Wild Tree Adventures, you can book tree climbing experiences and buy gift vouchers. Wonderful.
Tim has written a wee blog post about the benefits of trees and woodlands for wellness. Read it here.
The next time I write an update on the chestnuts they will be fully in the grip of autumn. Until then, take care and thanks for reading!