A Celebration of the Majesty, Mystique and Mystery of British Yews by Ancient Yew Group co-founder member
Paul W. Greenwood
It is a commonly known and understood phrase that ‘pictures speak a thousand words’ and that is the simple objective of this series of videos - to let the yew ‘speak for itself’ as much as possible.
The first, A Brief Journey under the Greenwood Tree illustrates how historically significant, veteran and ancient yews can be found in all manner of habitats throughout Britain - and come in all shapes and sizes! It also demonstrates how wonderfully varied the morphology of yews can be as they adapt themselves via astounding powers of survival to their environmental conditions. From the lowlands of the South to the hills and mountains of the North of Britain, yew trees have been a feature upon all the natural or man-made landscapes (such as churchyards) of this area of north- western Europe since before Britain actually became a series of islands.
The second is a tribute to what are certainly some of the most important yews in Europe – the now world famous Borrowdale Yews in north- west Cumbria, England which have been reliably dated to be 1,500 years old (Moir, 2004/Hindson 2012). These yews were voted as one of the Top Fifty tree heritage sites in Britain by the Tree Council in 2002 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee and were first made famous by William Wordsworth in his poem Yew-Trees (1803). The video charts a decade in the life of this yew grove from 1994 – 2014 and begins with an image by John Lowe published in 1897 showing the state of the grove after being storm damaged by the hurricane of 1883 when the largest yew of the group referred to as the Fraternal Four (despite the surviving yews all being female) was lost. Just over a century later the recovery rate is readily apparent in the video. Then a further series of storms after the Millennium year of 2000 seriously affected the site and one yew in particular but its regeneration has been simply astounding and demonstrates that, far from ‘slowing down’ as they age towards an assumed state of senescence and eventual death, yews which have lived for 1,500 years have a vitality which is almost impossible to believe without seeing it with your own eyes.
The third video Missing Your Touch is an attempt to empathise with those times in the lives of tree (and specifically yew) enthusiasts everywhere when they just wish, for whatever reasons, that at precise moment they wished they were in the living presence of one or more yews.
The fourth video Taxus Spiritus is an exercise just for fun and entertainment, and was inspired by how visual symmetry affects the human brain and feeds the eye of the imagination to create 'more' in an image that is actually there. Images of yews are a rich source of ideal subject matter to demonstrate this use of symmetrical imagery.
A Facebook Community page is also available at www.facebook.com/yewtreesbritain and its objective is the same as that of the videos but coupled with either some brief facts about the yew, or the history of a location, as well as raising awareness of various yews scenarios by providing online links for people to follow up if they wish, and giving notifications of campaigns to protect yews from all over the world.