Cordyline and reedmace

One of the participants at last week’s workshop in Ceres sent me this photo of her finished basket. I love her use of the stiff strip of Cordyline round the rim and the angled cut end. And you can just about smell the lavender. Thanks Karen.

I’ll write more about Cordyline in a future post, it’s wonderful stuff. 

Cordyline australis, a New Zealand tree growing in Fife (and Wester Ross, the Clyde coast, Devon, Cornwall…)

Beech interrupted

This tree basket will have to wait till November for its sides. The beech twigs I collected in April have lain too long and even soaking won’t make them supple again. Rather than fight with brittle twigs, I’m happy to wait for winter and this year’s new growth.

The little unfinished beech coil was my demonstration piece over the Open Studios weekend. It helped explain basket construction to many people and its slow growth shows how busy we were! Thanks to everyone who came along and to the Centre for Stewardship for hosting us. We had some great conversations and Tess and I can see our work more clearly in the light of your feedback. I’ll be offering at least two workshops this summer and autumn in response to the interest shown, dates and venues will be posted here once arranged.

www.centreforstewardship.org.uk

Sugi

img_2167-1

There is a huge tree in the Falkland Estate Arboretum, not far from the Monkey Puzzle tree near the Maspie Burn. I thought it was a Giant Redwood, one of those soft-barked punchable mega-trees from California. After the strong winds that brought down all the Monkey Puzzle leaves earlier this year, I found some green branches under the big tree, just enough to use for my tree project.

img_2213

Today I decided to check which Redwood the branches came from, knowing there’s more than one species. It turns out to be something else altogether, probably a Japanese Red Cedar, Cryptomeria japonica. It is related to the Giant Redwood Sequoiadendron giganteum but comes from the other side of the Pacific Ocean, yes, from Japan. There it is called Sugi and is highly-prized for its timber and precious ancient specimens. It can grow up to 70 metres (230 feet) tall and to a trunk diameter of 4 metres (13ft).

img_2065

I laid the twigs and leaves out to dry in the studio after collecting them. From the left: Hemlock(?), Lime, Monkey Puzzle leaves, Sugi, and one little twig from a neighbouring tree, possibly a Redwood. The Hemlock twigs (if that’s what they were) went brittle very quicky and ended up in the compost bin. The Sugi branches stayed flexible with a bit of soaking and made a very fragrant pair of baskets.

IMG_2206

See these and the other Tree Project baskets and pods at Open Studios North Fife from 29th April to 1st May at Centre for Stewardship Falkland