Friday, 21 January 2022


wheelie bins: a collection of municipal-issue recycling bins from across the UK—via Pasa Bon! 

filmovรฝ plakรกt: a gallery of vintage Czech movie posters  

1 000 trees: drone footage showcases Heatherwick studios’ Shanghai shopping centre  

northwoods baseball sleep radio: a fake game with no jarring sounds designed for podcast slumber  

holkham bible picture book: a 1330 curiosity that illustrates select passages from the Old and New Testaments  

the great british spring clean: projects and programmes (see also) sponsored by Keep Britain Tidy

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

dyer’s polypore

Having seen the process of extracting dyes from our fungal friends before, via Things Magazine, we not only quite enjoyed perusing through this swath collection of colours derived from mushrooms in its own right but also appreciated the site as an important point of departure for cultivating a deeper appreciation for the mycorrhizal network that connects us all.

Monday, 8 November 2021

l'arbe du tรฉnรฉrรฉ

Sadly destroyed by a careless truck driver hitting the only landmark in a hundred mile radius sometime earlier in the year, the remains of the solitary acacia, considered among the most isolated in the world, the Tree of Tรฉnรฉrรฉ, a guide for decades for caravans embarking on or returning from crossing the Sahara, were collected a put on display in the National Museum of Niger in Niamey on this day in 1973. Incredibly, the tree was included on maps of the desert, even at scales of millions-to-one. Memorialised in popular culture (see also), the tree’s story and metal sculpture that now stands in its place were featured prominently in the 2006 film La Gran Final on the 2002 FIFA World Cup final between Germany and Brazil and the challenges for a group of nomadic Tuareg to find the power and reception (using the monument as an antenna) to watch the match.

Friday, 1 October 2021


cultured: beautiful Petri dish art (see also) from Dasha Plesen  

tax centinels: protesting college students conspired to create “penny famines” across the US in the late 1930s 

rediffusion: the Thames Television archives—via Things magazine  

fat bear bracket: follow the celebration of survival and success with Katmai’s nature preserve ursine residents—via Hyperalleric’s Required Reading 

the thing on the fourble board: a 1948 episode of the radio programme Quiet, Please! is considered to be one of the scariest broadcasts ever 

bisection: the spiralling figural sculpture of Isabel Miramontes  

frustule: the rich diversity of diatoms illustrated in an 1890 volume

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

give a hoot—don’t pollute!

The United States forest service, following the success of mascot Smokey Bear in promoting awareness of forest fires, on this day in 1971 debuted the character Woodsy Owl (both from marketer Harold Bell) for anti-pollution public service messaging, introduced by the American Secretary of Agriculture Clifford Hardin as an environmental ambassador (the EPA having been just created) with the above slogan. Realising the reductive nature of the saying was squarely laying the blame on the public and deflecting responsibility from business and government policies, Woodsy has adapted his outreach over the years to reflect the climate crisis (“Help Woodsy Spread the Word,” since 2009) and taking meaningful action and currently uses the slogan, “Lend a Hand—Care for the Land!”

Thursday, 9 September 2021


Via Super Punch, we learn that not only has the Swiss ambassador to the US made the expansive embassy grounds in Washington, DC, a former farm in the Woodley Park neighbourhood, a biodiverse oasis, replacing the manicured lawn with native shrubs and trees to attract and sustain birds and other wildlife, the ambassor’s actions have set a positive example, leading other diplomatic missions to adopt ecologically sounder landscaping practices including vegetable gardens and beehives. More from the Audubon Society at the links above.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021


the dance of the proletariat: a cultural revolutionary ballet 

reefer madness: an excerpt from “Cocaine, the Princess of Perdition” (1939)  

beef and dairy network: a 1986 board game called “Grade Up to Elite Cow” 

music to moog by: Melbourne’s Electronic instrument museum  

old growth: an anthology of the most memorable trees in the literary canon  

ambiguate: a notable lacuna, lexical gap for a word that ought to have been formed 

rhythm is a dancer: a comprehensive dance music archive covering the recent past—via Things Magazine

Wednesday, 11 August 2021


united states of wildfire: as the climate emergency escalates, more North American residents are moving into the path of destruction unwittingly 

fitting in: Ze Frank (previously) reveals that even the coolest, calmest and most collected of us are all trying, coping  

d’oyly carte: an islet in the Thames with a derelict mansion built for an opera impresario will be restored to its former glory—via Things Magazine 

caped crusaders: Batman’s sidekick Robin finally comes out 

constrained systems: a tool-kit of alternative image editing effects—via Waxy  

matchi bล:a mesmerising stop-motion study of a magic match stick from Tomohiro Okazaki—via ibฤซdem

 bubblegum pop: the Osmonds 1968 song “Groove with what You Got”  

ฮฑฯ€ฮฟฮบฮฌฮปฯ…ฯˆฮท: Greek capital, archipelago beset by flames

Saturday, 7 August 2021


These gemels (from the Latin for pair, like Gemini) marked by foresters to not chop down (there’s some light logging in our woods but done fairly surgically with deference to unusual or aged trees though I wish we could protect them all with apotropaic magic) results from the above natural phenomenon (Anastomose) in which the roots, branches or trunks grow together. Conjoined specimens are colloquially called “husband and wife” or “marriage trees” and were possibly the sites of nuptial ceremonies.

Wednesday, 9 June 2021


Via Dark Roasted Blend, we are directed to the extensive archives of the J.R.R. Tolkien Society and their periodic journal—the above titled in reference to the mellyrn trees of Nรบmenor that grow to immense sizes—whose issues include peer-reviewed scholarship, editorial, art work and academic essays on the legendarium of Middle Earth and related topics. Some of the manual typesetting and formatting, illuminated scripts really, of the earlier instalments, like this coda to an argument about the physics of Gimli’s armaments and fighting style with the contributor having developed his own Fรซanorian glyphs to render their by-line, are especially worth a read through.

Thursday, 25 March 2021


a tree grows in brooklyn: a map of New York’s great perennials  

no wine before its time: an interview with the director of Orson Welles’ infamous commercial for Paul Masson’s California champagne  

foley artists: the talented individuals who help make supplemental sounds for nature documentaries  

what level of wood panelling is this: McMansion Hell yearbook 1979—previously  

riding the rails: the portfolio of Wang Fuchun (RIP), celebrated photographer best known for capturing the narrative train travel  

schwarzschild radius: the Event Horizon Telescope—previously—takes another picture of the black hole  

hempire state: New York poised to legalise cannabis

Wednesday, 10 March 2021


Occupying a liminal space between 2001: A Space Odyssey and the juncture that went with cosmic opera in one direction and dread aliens in the other, the environmental-themed, weakly-endorsing techno-utopia Silent Running by Douglas Trumbull—released on this date in 1972—does resound with our times and the bleak climate catastrophes we are facing, nearly fifty years on. The film follows a resident botanist (Bruce Dern) on board a greenhouse just beyond the orbit of Saturn, maintaining specimens of Earth’s plant life for its eventual reseeding the planet after all native trees and crops went extinct. Disobeying an order from the corporate headquarters that sponsored the space ark project to jettison their living cargo and return to commercial services, the botanist with his three service robots try to save the last biosphere.

Monday, 1 March 2021

casanea dentata

Previously we’ve written about the consequences of blight and efforts to reintroduce the American chestnut tree with generic engineering but failed to appreciate the devastating magnitude that the loss of a keystone species had for industry and ecosystem until acquainting ourselves with this extensive Sierra Club article, excerpted by Super Punch. Crucial as building and construction material, the westward expanse of Old World settlers would not have been possible with log cabins and later railroad ties made out of the durable, rot-resistant wood, to say nothing of its sheltering branches and bark, the food-chain of fauna it supported or its pharmacological merits. Cutting or coppicing the tree didn’t kill it and rather it re-sprouted and was ready again to be harvested in a couple of decades, leading to the strangest, tortured Promethean twist in this study: as the blight only damaged the surface part of the tree, extensive root systems still exist, an estimated half a billion individuals and every once and a while grow new saplings, though these too succumb to the fungal disease within a few years.

Friday, 19 February 2021

your daily demon: amduscias

With a charge and a voice like a thunder-clap, this infernal duke governs from this day through 23 February, the first part of the sign of Pisces, Amdusias presents in the form of a unicorn and is the Kapellmeister of Hell, responsible for the cacophonous music of the dread realm and can manifest and possess other instruments. Opposed by the Angel Eiael, this sixty-seventh spirit controls twenty-nine legion and can reportedly bend trees at his will. 


Wednesday, 25 November 2020

tycho magnetic anomaly

The recent buzz about the discovery of a mysterious yet most likely of mundane origins of a metal monolith in the desert of Utah that channels in a sense the cinematic titan of 2001 made me think about this smaller though also puzzling concrete post I encountered during a walk in the woods last week. 

It’s in a clearing where some trees were recently felled for lumber. Though just off a logging trail, there’s nothing else nearby and no other signs of construction. The blue bit embedded seems to be the pontil marked base of a cobalt glass bottle. I wonder what it could be for or why it was placed there—I’ll have to keep an eye on this one. 


Wednesday, 21 October 2020

silvicultural practise

Similar in technique and results to the woodland management practises of coppicing and pollarding, we learn—via preeminent friend of the blog Nag on the Lake, that the artistic and practical application was developed in fifteenth century Kyoto as daisugi (ๅฐๆ‰, platform cedar) as a way to redress a timber shortage. Cutting a young tree down to its stump, if done correctly, will result in numerous shoots and can prevent deforestation.  Learn more at Spoon & Tamago at the link above.

Friday, 21 August 2020

castagno dei cento cavalli

In one of the first official acts recognising and treasuring the environment, the Royal Court of Sicilian Heritage (Tribunale dell’Ordine del Real Patrimonio di Sicilia) inscribed the Hundred Horse Chestnut into rolls of protected property on this day in 1745.
The four-thousand-year old tree on the eastern slopes of Mount Etna (perhaps owing its longevity to rich volcanic soil—all the more so because of its precarious location) is believed to be the oldest in existence. Recorded as having the greatest girth—having split into a grove multiple trunks above ground, the tree received its name after local lore relating that when Queen Juana I of Castilla (called La Loca) passed through with her large entourage of knights, the entire company was able to shelter under its boughs during a thunderstorm. This venerable tree is a sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), whereas a horse chestnut is a close-cousin.

Thursday, 13 August 2020


Most famously portrayed in Milanese Mannerist painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s 1590 portrait of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II with a fruit and vegetable filter—Arcimboldo’s signature work as well, signifying the age of prosperity under his reign, Vertumnus is the shape-shifting deity of the seasons and metamorphosis and is celebrated with festivities (fasti) on this day on the Roman calendar.
Suitor of Pomona, the goddess of gardening and fruitful abundance—a hamadryad, that is a kind of nymph that lives in trees, Vertumnus seduced her in her orchard, having earned her confidence in the guise of an old woman, whom procedures to lecture her on the dangers of rebuffing advances, and this myth is considered to be the first Latin one, not derivative of earlier Greek traditions—the domesticated nature of landscaping and tending fruit trees perceived as too tame for the woodland spirits yet neither something as intensive—or fickle and dependent on the favour of the gods as agricultural activities. The god’s statue in a temple near the Forum Romanum was hewn from maple trunk and decorated according to the changing seasons typified by vestments made of the turning of leaves.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

daily constitutional

Even before availing myself to my midday walks through the woods where we live, it was a privilege to live in such proximity with Nature and wandered solitary for miles without encountering another soul, and now this peaceful, restorative ritual has really become an important one that’s never stinted or cut short as I’ve taken to exploring every fork in the path and have discovered quite a few hidden, anchoring landmarks in disused cabins, fishing holes and welcome vistas.

 Though still alone and hardly seeing another person out at any hour or no matter what the weather, in one direction, lies the gently logged but managed woodlands with extensive trails and opposite is our section of the European Green Belt, a nature reserve than spans the former Inner-German border and Iron Curtain with paths that follow old patrol routes.
The birdsong is exuberant and watching the trees awaken, day by day, has been a priceless and cherished thing to experience and am deeply grateful for these long, extended hikes and the chance for a change of pace to reconnect.

Thursday, 16 April 2020


From BBC’s Monitoring desk, we appreciated this rejuvenating, restorative suggestion from the senior ranger of Iceland’s largest forest, Hallormsstadur, in the eastern part of the island that one go, safely, out and embrace a tree, really savouring the connection and letting it support one and draw strength from it. Not all of us might have the woods at our doorsteps but I think all of us are lucky enough to have a tree at hand.