Over the last week or so, with an unusual spell of dry weather, I’ve been taking more night shots of my young Ash trees. The other night, after coming home late from a meeting, when driving into our small forest I noticed our mountain was on fire.  Its the time of year that local farmers burn the heather on top of Mt Leinster and the other Blackstairs mountains for sheep grazing. Its not something I  approve. Its the main reason why we have no forested areas on the slopes of the mountains apart from plantations. Its argued its an important tradition for the shared hilltop commons area, but its odd that its the tradition of colonizers who brought sheep to Ireland and Scotland more than what was happening here originally. What was there originally supported wolves and the like…forests, the last wolf in Ireland was reported as been killed on Mt Leinster environs in 1786.

This time out, I found still photographs rather than video captured the images better.


I’m finding taking shots of the ash at night, fits in with my ideas about thinking about resilience and its also easier to highlight the young stems against the black. Taking images of young trees naturally regenerating in daylight, often in the midst of blackberry bushes other trees, often means its hard for the untrained eye to see the new trees coming up. However, somehow the orange from the mountain fire made it all seem rather operatic… so I’m not sure I will use these shots as they convey something not aligned to the ideas I’m thinking about. At times when I create my audiovisual films I use stills but not so much lately. Still images often evoke past times, when I suppose I’m trying to bring to audiences a feeling of being in my forest in real-time.

There were a few shots though where the darkness of the ground between the young stems intrigued me – I’ve long been interested in somehow capturing the real mastermind of forest ecosystems, the fungal networks underneath that support all the life in the forest… so these will be filed away until I can figure out how to approach that idea. Can’t ever stop my interest in microbes – I spent my first ten years looking down microscopes.

Mnd you how can one think of fungi without thinking about regeneration. Here is Paul Stamets – and his work is being brought to huge audiences now through the amazing film work of nature cinematographer Louis Schwartzburg (you may have seen Louis’ TED presentations of the world of our pollinators previously).

6 thoughts on “more ash night shots – fire and opera

  1. Thanks so much Kaye,

    So interested to hear abut the open crowd science efforts to determine the Ash tree genome. I’ve shared it along on facebook to forest followers here in Ireland. The Ash is our most common native tree but unfortunately we still import it, both as timber and as young trees. In the long term, we should be investing as much efforts into establishing expertise and resources here for our own varieties.

    Glad you liked the photos too, my ash love been film/opera stars 🙂


  2. I love the pics of the ash plants! I am constantly amazed at how many ash seedlings start to sprout up in these conditions, they seem like a single organism, almost like a pin mattress being pushed gently up through the soil. Your mention of blackberry bushes reminded me that I still have not got that scythe blade up to you………..


    • Hey Chris

      I really like your idea that they are like a single organism… in fact I think that is what is literally happening with their communication with the fungi world that supports them underneath…

      yes, that blade, give it to anyone you are working with here and I’ll collect it …

      the forest is looking much lighter, clearer since our 2nd thinning recently with Sean and Conor… we can all breathe again and there is so much more light (hope you saw recent posts when it was inspected for COFORD LISS low impact sivilculture research project. Have been advised to thin every 3 years rather than 4 as our growth rates are so fast 😉 and we have our shed now for the gasifier too!!! Thanks for your continued interest… and your work in the first stages of transforming ‘hollywood’


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