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The John Martin Heritage Festival

Guided Walk - The Character of Trees

Saturday 5 May 2012 2pm-5pm

Allen Banks Car Park

In 1817, John Martin produced a series of seven fine etchings on copper of trees in romantic settings. This was his first commercial publication and was issued by Rudolph Ackermann for 12 shillings a copy. Original copies are now very rare!Oak Tree

The walk attracted a wide cross section of delegates who wanted to improve their knowledge of trees and Allen Banks.  The famous ground cover of Bluebell and Wild Garlic flowers were just coming to their best as an added bonus for these visits.

Walk leaders were experts in their field, Lis Airey, Woodland Officer from The North Pennines AONB and Denis Fleming Woodland Advisor for the National Trust who has been involved at Allen Banks for some 20 years.

Earlier in the week, students from Allendale Middle School were also taken to the area by Lis and Fiona Knox of the NPAONB and were able to enjoy searching for the various species from the worksheets provided.

Lis had produced further handouts showing tree buds, leaves catkins and twigs and explained how the Lis Airey explains Beech tree crotchesMartin prints were perhaps not the most ideal way to undertake tree recognition.  For the Saturday session a new leaflet was also produced by Graphic Designer Marcus Byron to show Martin's prints complete with a map of the area indicating where the various species could be found in the woodland.  You can see this by clicking here (This is a draft version with corrections to follow)

Excellent examples were found of trees located on bank sides which had morphed to produce buttress roots against the wind

to compensate for the tension and compression forces resulting.

It was explained how Dutch Elm disease had caused major damage in the south of the country but both here and in Scotland the Wych Elm we have is more resistant to the disease and has vigorous hybrid seeds to propagate rather than by infected root shoots with the English Elm.

The effect of the tree's canopy on its structure was seen and how this controlled the height to diameter ratio of the trunk.

Fungal damage was also witnessed and how this demonstrates the extent of damage to theFungal growth  tree from the comparative sizes of the fungal growth increments.

Lis Airey shows fungus cells

Allen Banks has a wealth of well managed tree types. Varieties seen, other than in Martin's prints, included Corsican Pine, Box, Hornbeam, Sweet Chestnut, Douglas Fir, Yew, Alder, Hazel, Birch, Larch and Elder.

The walk was not only educational but enjoyable and inspirational.  Those who were there will certainly look at trees with a new light and understanding thanks to the great knowledge and enthusiasm of the walk's leaders.

If you missed this opportunity do check out the leaflet and visit beautiful Allen Banks for yourself.

Allen Banks Car Park (there is a NT non-members charge for parking), Bardon Mill, Hexham, Northumberland NE47 7BU grid ref: NY799640


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