The Fortingall Yew over 5000 years old

The Fortingall Yew, a heritage tree of international importance situated in the Highland Perthshire village of Fortingall, eight miles west of Aberfeldy in Scotland.

On a VERY windy day in October, I visited TheFortingall Yew in Glen Lyon the tree is at the geographical heart of Scotland and stands within Fortingall churchyard. It is thought to be between 3,000 and 5,000 years old and has connections to early Christianity in Scotland. It is also believed to be one of the oldest living things in Europe. In 1769 the circumference of the yew’s multiple trunks was measured at 52 ft, but this has vastly reduced over time and what remains are the relics and offshoots of the original tree.

The tree is supposedly Pontius Pilate’s Birthplace, this from an early publication (Lloyd’sWeekly Newspaper)

“One of the strongest links with the past which can be found in this country is supplied by the obscure village of Fortingall, in Perthshire, which tradition points out as the birthplace of Pontious Pilate. Fortingall lies in a beautiful and sequestered mountain vale some ten miles west of Aberfeldy, in a district rich in memories of Finga), Wallace and Bruce. Near the village are the remains of a Roman camp, where, at the beginning of the Christian era, the soldiers of the Empire were posted to guard the passage from the Highlands through Glen Lyon. This encampment is probably not earlier than the time of Agricola, and before it was made the Scottish king Metellanus held his court at Fortingall, and received an embassy from Augustas. One of the ambassadors, we are told, was the father of Pontius Pilate, and here the future Governor of Judea is said to have been born shortly before the Nativity if our Saviour. The embassy* to Metellanus is sufficiently well authenticated in the following passage from Hollioshed.”

Further work on a Yamadori Yew ‘Pagoda’ style

This tree was collected over 5 years ago, this is a tall thin English Yew (Taxus Baccata), it has a shari that runs from top to base. Its never been re-potted out of this washing up bowl and it is now ready. The first work was done in December 2017 you can see the blog post HERE, not actually styling but formulating the branch structure and foliage locations. No wiring, no styling no branch positioning, the tree was left to grow. All I will do over the next 12 months watch out for wire cutting into the branches. The tree will be re-potted in February 2020.

 

First potting of a Han Kengai Yamadori Yew

This is the first potting of the Han Kengai Yamadori Yew. its still got some filling out of the foliage to do so I have potted the tree in an oversize pot to give the roots more run. At this stage, I wanted to know the state of the roots and whether there we any large ones that need to be reduced. I was surprised that there were none. In the future, this tree can be potted in a much shallower and smaller pot. my friend Riccardo Vinciguerra assisted. You can see the earlier work here.

 

First work on a Yamadori Yew ‘Pagoda’ style

Its always exciting when you tackle a piece of raw material for the first time, the element of discovery (and sometimes disappointment) seeing the image that you have in your head appear before your eyes is great.

This tree was collected over 4 years ago, this is a tall thin English Yew (Taxus Baccata), it has a shari that runs from top to base. Its never been re-potted out of this washing up bowl and it is now ready. The first work is not actually styling but formulating the branch structure and foliage locations. No wiring, no styling no branch positioning, the tree will be left to grow. All I will do over the next 12 months is clean the tree and tidy up the cuts.

 

 

 

Cascade Bonsai Cavalcade

I have more than my fair share of cascade and semi cascade bonsai, here is a selection of the smaller ones photographed today including Yew, Communis Juniper and Olive. They are all still in development (maybe the olive is finished) They are super trees to work but difficult to transport to shows, typically I have to make bespoke carriages for them to fit in the truck.

 

calligrapher new 04-17cascade olivecommunis junipersemi cascade yewthin cascade yew