Saturday, 29 September 2018

House of Gray

The story of this post begins with a book: Alan Mitchell's Trees of Britain



This is not an identification guide, but a survey of the individual trees of more than 150 different species. In his lifetime, Alan Mitchell measured many trees of outstanding shape and size and this book records his findings. What you get is a practical guide as to where to find the best specimens.

The book was published in 1996, but many of the trees are still there.

Today, you can buy a second hand copy for £0.06 + £3.29 P&P.

As part of my preparation my upcoming workshop on drawing and painting trees at the Birnam Institute, I have been looking for good examples of sessile oak, Quercus petraea, and pedunculate oak, Quercus robur, to photograph.

Alan Mitchell says: 'At Gray House, Dundee, near the drive, a fine specimen is 102/24 ft', where 102 ft is the estimated height, and 24 ft is the circumference.

Google 'Gray House' comes up with a building at risk also known as the House of Gray:


A few days ago, we visited this beautiful classical country house. You can find out more by clicking the photograph to get to the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland.

Did we find the tree?


Maybe. We did find a couple of potential candidates and enjoyed a meander around the house and grounds. All seems secure, although there has been recent graffiti and other vandalism.


Bought a Euromillions lottery ticket on the way home. Got 1 number right, which is 1 more than we got on the previous occasion..

Friday, 28 September 2018

Scottish Plant Lore

Enjoyable event at the Botanic Cottage at the RBGE in Edinburgh on Thursday 27th, meeting up with author Greg Kenicer to collect a pre-publication copy of his book Scottish Plant Lore, An illustrated flora:

Scottish Plant Lore ©

.. with my painting of the Birnam Oak on p 107:

Scottish Plant Lore ©

Greg describes the plants of seashores, wetlands, grasslands, woodlands, moorland and mountains and human habitats, all in his inimitable clear and informative style. This is a beautifully designed and produced book with illustrations from historical sources and contemporary work by many of Scotland's finest botanical artists.

The book will be appearing in bookshops across Scotland very soon, in time for Christmas, and of course you can buy it online:

⇩ The Botanic Cottage is well worth a visit. It was moved brick by brick from the original location of the botanic garden off Leith Walk and rebuilt inside the RBGE, providing additional facilities for visitors and students.

© RBGE: click for website






Wednesday, 26 September 2018

SSBA Exhibition Lillie Gallery

Looking forward to the Scottish Society of Botanical Artists Third Annual Exhibition: Shapes of Nature, taking place as follows:

 SSBA Flyer

Five of my paintings are included in the Exhibition:

Beech Hedge at Meikleour:
Watercolour original H77, W 57
Price: £ 800

Exhibited at 7th RSW Open Summer Exhibition


The Witches Tree: Fagus sylvatica, near Camperdown
Watercolour original H 71, W 56
Price: £ 600


Oak leaf detail, Quercus petraea:
Watercolour original H 55, W 44
Price: £ 400

Shortlisted for the National Open Art Competition, 2017



The Birnam Oak: Quercus petraea
Watercolour original H 67, W 84
Price: £ 1200⇩



Magnolia x soulangeana
Watercolour original H 59, W 80
Price: £ 800


There is a story behind each of these paintings.. and more posts to add.

© W D Phillips 26 September 2018






Birnam Institute Workshop: 20th October

Later this month, I am running a workshop as follows: Drawing and Painting Trees Birnam Institute, Saturday 20th October 2018 10 am - 4 p...