Festival of the Tree
Spot the real conkers
This was the first year we've not been on the Bank Holiday Monday, so for once we were able to see the chainsaw sculptors (aka Sculptree) in action. Using large chunks of wood from Westonbirt trees felled because of disease or age, the finished sculptures are surprisingly complex and intricate. These are auctioned off on the Monday in aid of Tree Aid and each sculpture raised over £1,000 yesterday. Smaller, more affordable scupltures and objects are also on show and I love imagining where my favourite one will go in my garden.
There were lots of stalls displaying all aspects of wood - willow weaving (sadly without the woman whose hair matches her product this year), hurdle and gate making, art objects, indoor and outdoor furniture. There were lots of woodturners showing off their creations and work in progress, plus masterclasses available. You can even buy your own few acres of woodland - strictly for amenity purposes. I would love to buy the one for sale a few miles from us just outside Bath. The Friends of Westonbirt were also very much in evidence - they have timber sales on the second Sunday each month and were frequently visited by other exhibitors looking to source timber for their next piece of work. This time ash and yew seemed to be the main timber available - it varies depending on which trees Westonbirt has had to fell or maintain at the time.We can never resist buying something - I love these clocks, but feel their novelty would wear off after a while. In previous years we've really splashed out, such as three very striking chairs from Malcolm David Smith a couple of years ago, and a very fine two foot long cedar bowl last year. This year the purchase was more modest, but equally beautiful - this rather nice pear made from spalted ash, a product of a tree's natural defences trying to combat invading fungi. It results in a pigmentation such as that seen below and is much prized by wood carvers and turners. The wood carver who sold me this piece told me that ash is a unique wood as far as spalting is concerned. It results in both grain and cross-grain effects and it is the only wood were advanced stages of decay result in a yellow pigmentation instead of the usual black.
I'll be returning to Westonbirt to show you the magnificent Arboretum another time.