Purbeck forester branches out with Tree of the Week website

The popular Tree of the Week social media posts which started out as a joke by a Purbeck woodland manager, have expanded into artwork and now become so in demand that a website has just been launched.

In 2010, forester David Browning began posting pictures of his favourite trees with ‘fascinating’ information about their size, age and girth to wind up his friends.

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Easel at tree exhibition
sarahhallphotography

David’s artwork was on display at Carey’s Secret Garden for his website launch party

people at tree exhibition
sarahhallphotography

Invited guests toasted the success of the new Tree of the Week website

Tree of the Week website launch

But now Tree of the Week has become a serious side business for David, who revealed his new website at a launch party held at Carey’s Secret Garden, Wareham, where he is the woodland manager.

A collection of David’s amazing black and white photographs of ancient trees that he’s discovered during his work, are presented in a gallery on the website designed by his niece, Ruby.

But for everyone who has asked over the years whether they can buy copies of his work, the images are now available for sale online, printed either onto birch plywood or brushed aluminium.

Many of the trees photographed are in Dorset, although others come from wherever work takes David, or tracked down using the Woodland Trust’s interactive online map of ancient trees.

DAVID BROWNING

Starstruck – an image of an ancient oak at Holton Heath, near Wareham

DAVID BROWNING

This willow tree mimics the silhouette of a yacht on Dorset’s River Avon

Forestry manager at Carey’s Secret Garden

David said:

“I have been helping Simon Constantine with the woodland management of Carey’s Secret Garden from the early days – I live nice and local, so I just pop in a few times a year to see what needs doing.

“There’s still a programme of thinning which is taking place, but the interesting thing is how much of the estate is still unknown – there’s a lot of land still that you can’t get to because of the rhododendrons.

“The aspiration is to clear them, but it is incredibly hard if you don’t want to use chemicals. On the other hand, you can come down at a certain time of year and the roads look beautiful because the rhododendrons are all in flower – it’s quite a balance really.

“Tree of the Week is a result of a love of black and white photography and encounters with incredible trees that occur during my work as a consulting forester – accidental finds as well as trees I actively seek out.

“I didn’t realise quite how many ancient trees we have in the country, more than most other European countries combined, and I wanted to capture the unique beauty of them while creating a visual record of what might be lost to the gathering pace of environmental change.”

DAVID BROWNING

Misty autumn days can give a very atmospheric setting for David’s trees

DAVID BROWNING

Lonesome – not a pine, but a young cedar tree emerging from the fog

Display at Purbeck Art Weeks

The photos have been displayed during Purbeck Art Week for the past seven years, during which time David realised that people were interested in buying his art.

Although it took a while to settle on the best way to present his photos, David settled for printing on plywood, as it offered a natural link to the subjects of his pictures, and also as the veneer ages when exposed to sunlight, giving a greater warmth to the image.

He then added brushed aluminium as a second option, as the contrast of the aluminium and organic subject matter gives the piece a crisp contemporary feel while the reflective quality causes the artwork to shift with changing light.

DAVID BROWNING

It’s not hard to imagine facial features in old trees – this ancient yew is titled Howl

DAVID BROWNING

Old Stumpy is a Wyndham oak tree standing watch over a Dorset churchyard

A real value in recording trees

David added:

“I spend my working life around trees, and started posting some pictures of my favourites as a silly way of winding my friends up, but it wasn’t long before I realised there was real value in recording these trees in a more meaningful way and it became a creative outlet.

“The website could develop into all kinds of things, but while it has taken quite a time to get to this point, I have become more serious about it over the last couple of years.

“I am now looking ahead to when my body hurts too much walking about through the woods as I do at the moment!

“I was heartened to discover that quite so many people appreciated the beauty of the trees and I think you saw a lot of that in the emotional response to the felling of the tree at Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall.

“Clearly it was a beautiful tree in a prominent place, but there are trees being cut down every day which are that age and older, so it was interesting and also encouraging quite how much public outrage there was over it.”

CAROLE RADDATO

The tree at Sycamore Gap, Northumberland, which caused outrage when it was illegally felled

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