Tag Archives: Tree Trail

The Ten Trees of Workhouse Wood

IMG_0705It was a beautiful sunny day when Kevin and Andrew met John and Dee at the top of the steps into Workhouse Wood. In a short while, more explorers had joined them. They were going to have an adventure!

Down, down, down they went into Workhouse Wood. No sooner had they gone down a few steps than they found a scattering of petals on the ground – dainty white elderflowers, bright yellow hawkweed and pretty pink dog roses.

A tiny, tinkling bell rang out. Ting-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling! They looked up. A queer piece of golden yarn had been tied to the first tree in the Tree Trail, an English Oak. It was rather mysterious.

Kevin said, “I know what has happened. The elves must have seen me walking around the wood last week. I expect they have tied golden yarn to all the trees on the Tree Trail.”

IMG_0725Sure enough, when they arrived at the next tree, the merry, tinkling bells rang out, and there was – yes, a tiny piece of golden yarn on the old Hawthorn Tree, tied in a bow. The mischievous elves were playing a trick. They had even tied a thread to a tree that was not on the trail, a Field Maple.

Kevin said, “The elves are laughing at us, but they have helped us, too. Do you see how the leaves are similar to the Sycamore next to it, but they are not the same. They are more rounded.”

They walked further on. The woods were lovely and cool. Presently, they came to a sort of clearing. The sun shone down on the path. It was simply enchanting. Soon they had reached the great Horse Chestnut Tree, then a dear little Cherry Tree. In a trice they had tied a card to the branches to help visitors know more about the trees.

IMG_0732They rubbed the leaves of the Western Red Cedar Tree. They smelt of delicious pineapple! At every tree they visited, the merry, tinkling bells rang out. (It was the elves laughing). Try as they might, they could not see the elves. They were hiding.

When they had walked past the Holly Tree and the Elder Tree, they looked over and saw that some of the logs in the Forest Schools clearing had been scorched rather badly. Some naughty children must have set fire to them. I think their nannies ought to smack them, don’t you?

At last they came to the end of the Trail. It had been good fun and they had had a busy day. They had learned a lot about trees and Workhouse Wood. It was time to go to the pub. They went to The Old Mill and talked about politics and the education system. They made plans for the Make Merry and the Midsummer Crawl. Then it was time to go home.


More Treasures Unknown

IMG_20170416_160556590_HDREvery Community Market since January has seen the monthly watercolour workshop move from ‘beginners’ to ‘improvers’ – they will be selling a selection of their cards and paintings at the Make Merry – but the 5th annual Easter Quiz Crawl (see pics of the gleeful winners) launched the warm weather season of Art Plumstead activities and reminded those who have been in at the start that we will have reached our 5th Anniversary on September 2nd, right in the middle of Plumstravaganza 2017.

IMG_20170416_160604160_HDROnce again, Karen managed to find a different part of Plumstead to be the setting of a trail combining anagrams of local streets and questions to answer about places seen en route. There were also a few random sights to be spotted and identified. To make it slightly easier they were all in sequence, but no team managed to spot all of them. The teams set off from The Star and meandered round the back streets to journey’s end. At the final count, there was only one point between the scores of the first and second teams. For the second team, it was a bitter pill to swallow, but it was metaphorically washed down with a few pints in The Old Mill.

IMG_20170416_160610672It is about to get busy in the Art Plumstead Calendar, starting with the Tree Trail in Workhouse Wood, and if you aren’t already on the mailing list, the simplest way to be kept informed is to sign up using the contact form at the bottom of the Art Plumstead home page.


Plumstravaganza – Once more unto the Beech

Most of the people who came for the Edible Tree Trail had attended in Spring, but there were a couple of newbies to swell the ranks.

The route was exactly the same as before, but the intention was to retrace our footsteps and notice how the trees had changed since May. Broadly speaking, flowers had been replaced by fruit, with some more ripe than others. The Rowan berries, being fully red and ripe but not softened were at peak condition. They were not to everyone’s (anyone’s) taste, being tart and quite bitter. The meagre crop of Elder berries showed they were ready for harvesting because they were black, plump and beginning to droop. There are others in the vicinity which are more generously laden with fruit.

For some trees, the time for harvesting was past. The Lime leaves were no longer the succulent morsels they had been in May, and the flowers had been replaced by hard, dry fruit. These are alleged, somewhat fancifully, to resemble chocolate in taste when less ripe. They certainly don’t taste of chocolate in September. The Beech masts were evident, but apart from one that contained a nut, the rest were wizened and empty. Acorns from the Sessile and English Oaks were as expected, extremely tannic. However, after a while they had a surprisingly sweet aftertaste. Meanwhile, the Hawthorn had been completely cut down!


Plumstravaganza – Workhouse Wood 2

This was the first ‘official’ tour of Workhouse Wood led by Nick Day, but anyone who came to May’s Edible Tree Trail had already dipped into it as an added bonus just after we had passed the Sweet Chestnut tree. Then, we were grateful for the shade because that day was very hot. This time, the weather was somewhat cooler but humid.

The tour commenced with a look out towards the river and the main site of the workhouse. There is a boundary tucked down inside the foliage that has been the same since the 18th century. We then walked over to the southern entrance of the site, where Nick explained how the notice board had had to be replaced already, having been vandalised. The tour proceeded clockwise, with Nick picking up litter for the entire route.

At the north west corner of the site we lingered by the remains of the piggery. Nick explained that formerly there was a farm on this site, attached to the Workhouse. More recently, in the 1970s there had been several attacks on nurses in the hospital which is what prompted the erection of a much higher fence around the perimeter. In due course, the site became a dumping ground which is where PCEG stepped in. All the bricks lining the paths had been found on or around the common. Meanwhile 6 tons of metal, mainly the fence referred to above, have been removed from the site to make it more accessible. As more funding is secured, the area will be managed to maintain biodiversity and increase its use by the public.



The Tasty Dozen

IMG_5761IMG_5764IMG_5766IMG_5773IMG_5774IMG-20160508-01984No PMS students this year, but no matter, the twelve trees were the stars of the show for this, the second Tree Trail on Winn’s Common. For 2016 the focus was on recognising the different trees, describing what they are likely to look like in September – when the walk will be repeated during Plumstravaganza – and explaining which parts of each were edible.

IMG-20160508-01989IMG-20160508-01991At this time of year, it’s all about leaves. The succulent Common Lime leaves were voted the most palatable – but not everyone was up for a tannic treat from the Hawthorn, Birch and Beech trees. The point was made though, that all of us were only here because our long-distant ancestors had no option but to trudge around eating mainly leaves at this time of year. Something similar must have been the case in Africa, America and Asia. The Scots Pine infusion had to be for information only since its needles are high up the trunk and it is tucked away in the newly reopened (thanks to Plumstead Common Environment Group) Workhouse Woods. As a bonus, Nick Day gave us a sneak preview of the Workhouse Woods walk which he will lead during Plumstravaganza. It was beautifully cool under the shade of the burgeoning leaves. In the summer, Elder and Lime trees will provide fragrant flowers for snacking or drying for use in a tisane.

IMG-20160508-01993IMG-20160508-02000IMG-20160508-02002IMG-20160508-02003Come Autumn, and fruits and nuts will be in abundance. The Whitebeam will probably not deliver the goods, since the fruit on that particular specimen never seems to ripen even in an Indian Summer. On the other hand, it is unmistakeable since it leans at a very jaunty angle and will be useful for anyone wanting to learn what a Whitebeam looks like. Whether anyone has a go at making pickled Ash keys remains to be seen, but they will have to be ready to come back and gather them while they are young and fresh. It is a centuries-old recipe and was made during the war, when food was in short supply. Perhaps in September we could have a tasting of goodies made from the trees in this year’s Tree Trail!IMG_20160508_152005319