A Treasurer was first appointed at York Minster in 1071. Since then, his house has undergone many changes and it is now largely 17th century. At the front, there is a beautiful, award-winning garden in which herbaceous plants are clustered and labelled according to species.
The garden is dominated by two mature Ash trees, one on each side, about 30 metres apart. One appears perfectly healthy while the other is in an advanced state of dieback. Ewan drew these trees to illustrate for the John Innes Open Day to illustrate the ravages of dieback and how two neighbouring trees can be so differently affected.
At present, it seems that the west of England is suffering significantly less from Ash Dieback than the east. This may result from a variety of factors including location, genetic characteristics and sources of recolonisation after the Ice Age. As a measure to facilitate the monitoring of any changes, Ewan has drawn and will continue to draw annually four Ash trees of differing appearance which were planted in the Golden Copse, established in Sidmouth to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Queen in 2002.
At a place in Georgia where secret governmental meetings are sometimes held, several US Presidents have planted Live Oak Trees to commemorate their visits. The first was Calvin Coolidge in 1928 and the most recent Bill Clinton in 2012. Ewan was allowed to visit in 2016 and was able to sketch the central group of oaks in preparation for completing a picture.
The Chinese Persimmon (Diospyros kaki), grown today for Sharon fruit, has been cultivated in China for over 2000 years. However it is now acclaimed worldwide as the tree which survived the atomic bomb detonated over Nagasaki on 9th August 1945. Amidst the devastation, several years later, two small trees emerged 2.5km from the hypocentre. These were nurtured under the guidance of Dr Masayuki Ebinuma, who developed the international “Kaki Tree Project” as a peace gesture. Since 1998, saplings from the two survivors have been sent to many countries including the UK.
Ewan has drawn the Kaki tree in the gardens of the Nature in Art Gallery and Museum in 2015, 2016 and 2017 to show how the little tree is developing. He is still in awe of a tree with such a history.
A 200 year old Ash Tree, named Betty, in Ashwellthorpe Wood, Norfolk, has become important in the fight against Chalara fraxinea, the Ash Dieback fungal disease. Already there have been over 1,000 reported cases of the disease and Great Britain is set to lose over 50% of its Ash trees. Betty has been found to have a high tolerance to the disease and, using material from her, research on genetic markers is taking place at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. Ewan has drawn Betty and some of her neighbours.
Find out more about the John Innes Centre here.
Ewan is now working, as an artist, with the John Innes Centre to illustrate issues such as Ash Dieback and to support its charitable pursuits.
The John Innes Centre is an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology.
Our mission is to generate knowledge of plants and microbes through innovative research, to train scientists for the future, to apply our knowledge of nature’s diversity to benefit agriculture, the environment, human health and wellbeing, and engage with policy makers and the public.
To achieve these goals we establish pioneering long-term research objectives in plant and microbial science, with a focus on genetics. These objectives include promoting the translation of research through partnerships to develop improved crops and to make new products from microbes and plants for human health and other applications. We also create new approaches, technologies and resources that enable research advances and help industry to make new products. The knowledge, resources and trained researchers we generate help global societies address important challenges including providing sufficient and affordable food, making new products for human health and industrial applications, and developing sustainable bio-based manufacturing.
This provides a fertile environment for training the next generation of plant and microbial scientists, many of whom go on to careers in industry and academia, around the world.
The John Innes Centre is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). In 2015-2016 the John Innes Centre received a total of £30.1 million from the BBSRC.
The John Innes Centre is also supported by the John Innes Foundation through provision of research accommodation and long term support of the Rotation PhD programme.
The John Innes Centre is the winner of the BBSRC’s 2013 – 2016 Excellence With Impact award.
The Museum Gardens were established as a botanic garden by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society within the grounds of St Mary’s Abbey, founded by the Benedictines, which since the Dissolution has become a picturesque set of ruins. The abiding botanic element in the gardens has been the Arboretum. Ewan is drawing some of the rare trees to illustrate a book on the history of the gardens.
A Callery pear tree was planted by the World Trade Centre in the 1970’s. On 11th of September 2001, as the Twin Towers collapsed, it was smashed, burned and covered in debris. The remains, with broken and torn branches and roots, were recovered in October and transported to the New York Parks Department’s nursery in the Bronx. The tree measured a mere 8 feet in height.
After some nine years of nurture, the Callery pear, now 30 feet high, was returned to Ground Zero on 21st December 2010. Today it is a beautiful tree, spectacular in flower, a fitting memorial to survival, resilience and rebirth.
The birthplace of Thomas Gainsborough in Sudbury, Suffolk, is a particularly beautiful house, dating from 1520. Gainsborough was born in 1727, the youngest of nine children, and went on to become one of the greatest landscape painters, the inspiration for Constable and, in 1768, a founder member of the Royal Academy.
The house was opened to the public in 1961, as a museum and gallery with a wide selection of Gainsborough’s landscapes and portraits. It is an extraordinarily stimulating setting in which to view the pictures. The house also has an oasis of peace in its walled garden, in which are several fine trees including a 400 year old Black Mulberry, a Quince and a Medlar. In this memorable place, Ewan has drawn these three trees.
His drawings will be available on various cards at Gainsborough’s House (46, Gainsborough Street, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 2EU: www.gainsborough.org; tel. 01787 372958 ). Prints may be ordered directly from Ewan.
The Live Oak, specifically the southern variety (Quercus virginiana), is the iconic tree of the old American South. When mature, these trees can be of immense proportions, typically over 60ft tall and 80ft wide. The great branches are commonly draped with Spanish moss, an epiphyte which is neither Spanish nor moss. Live oaks are seen to particular advantage on St Simon’s Island where they were once harvested to provide the framework for the USS Constitution. It is recorded that the British cannon balls bounced off the oak. The Live Oak is the official state tree of Georgia.
Ewan is fortunate in having been able to spend part of the last four summers on St Simon’s Island drawing these magnificent trees.