Lyme Regis Driftwood Patterns

Stormy seas have brought lots of driftwood ashore at Lyme Regis in Dorset, England. I liked this particular tree because of the convolutions of its twisted roots that had incorporated stones during growth. The root bark texture was interesting; and the stripped-down trunk and branches revealed intricate spiralling patterns in the woodgrain. I loved the little survivor of the storms, sitting drenched and bemused among the tangled roots.

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Beech Tree Cut Timber Patterns

There is a lovely avenue of mature beech trees where I live. Sadly, because of the recent high winds and storms, one of these magnificent trees had to be felled as it was unsafe. Once it had been cut up you could see why. The base of the trunk was rotten and the fungal infection had spread throughout, leaving incredible patterns revealed in the cross-sectional slices of timber remaining on the ground. There was abundant beech mast and numerous small beech seedlings on the ground around the tree stump, so I hope that another tree will grow to replace the lost mighty one.

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Weathered Harbourside Timbers 1

Cross-sectional views of weathered wooden posts on the harbourside, showing remnants of green paint that highlight the wood texture, and also with patterns of radial and concentric splits appearing along the wood grain as the wood dries out and begins to rot.

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Old Whiteford Boat Wreck

Remains of a small boat wreck in the sand

I revisit things I have found on the beach to see how they change with time.

I hadn’t walked along Whiteford Sands for quite a while. My last visit was a few months ago – in December, I think. I was surprised at how much the seashore had changed when I went there again a couple of weeks ago in mid-March. There have been some very striking large scale changes as a result of the winter storms (and I will talk about what has been uncovered very soon).

I have photographed the remains of the small wrecked boat at Whiteford many times over the past ten years. Despite the major transformations to the Whiteford Point area over winter, the little wooden boat wreck remained untouched. This time the planking of the upturned hull was mostly covered by dry sand. However, part of the keel or mast-housing was still above ground. The timbers a little more weathered and etched – providing a great place for yellow lichen to flourish. The rusting old ironwork staining the adjacent timbers but the rivets still holding all the pieces together. The wreck looked very picturesque against the pristine wind-blown sand and the cold blue sky.

Remains of a small boat wreck in the sand

Yellow lichen on weathered timber with rusty ironwork on the remains of a small boat wreck

Yellow lichen on weathered timber with rusty ironwork on the remains of a small boat wreck

Yellow lichen on weathered timber with rusty ironwork on the remains of a small boat wreck

Remains of a small boat wreck in the sand

COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2013

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Rusty Pebbles at Whiteford

Rusty Pebbles at Whiteford (1) - View looking across to Llanmadoc Hill showing pebbles on the beach at Whiteford Sands, Gower, South Wales, some of which are covered with a rusty deposit thought to derive from the break up of an iron-pan associated with a Holocene peat layer.

Vast swathes of pebbles on the beach at Whiteford in Gower are coloured orange – or at least they were the last time I looked. (The beach sediments there are very mobile so it cannot be guaranteed that you will see exactly the same thing on each visit). These coloured pebbles are found in a band stretching from the base of the sand dunes at the eastern end of the beach towards the disused Victorian Whiteford Lighthouse.

The pebbles seem to be coated in rust rather than rusty because of their intrinsic composition. I guess the first couple of times that I noticed the orange pebbles I vaguely thought that they were stained by rust emanating from the decomposing remains of the old iron causeway that linked the lighthouse to the shore. You can often find pieces of the iron framework of the walkway – sometimes supports still in situ and other times single pieces of the structure lying free.

However, lately, I have been discovering more and more about the Quaternary geology of the Gower – a relatively recent geological period dating from about 2.5 million years ago to the present. This includes the Pleistocene with a variety of glacial, peri-glacial and inter-glacial deposits; and the recent Holocene (from 11,800 years ago) with peat and submerged forests, marsh, dune, beach and alluvial deposits. As I read more, I am gradually reaching something of an understanding about some of the natural phenomena that I observe and photograph on Gower beaches. So I now tentatively consider that the rusty pebbles are not related to the dilapidation of the old lighthouse but are the result of a much older natural geological process.

I have already mentioned in Jessica’s Nature Blog the remains of the submerged forest at Broughton Bay which lies to the west and adjacent to Whiteford Sands. These ancient tree trunks are embedded in peat deposits. While I was reading George (2008), I learnt that the peat decomposes to form a hard ferruginous layer called an iron-pan or hardpan. This has led me to wonder if the iron compounds that coat the pebbles at Whiteford are derived from an iron pan layer.

Supporting evidence for this idea comes from the presence of ancient tree trunks emerging from black peat deposits close to the rusty pebbles – similar to those stumps found at Broughton. The old waterlogged wood is also stained with rust – as you will see from the photographs below. Additionally, slightly higher on the beach, closer to the dunes, the shore is strewn with pebbles around which orange-coloured watery ‘tears’ rise to the surface and weep across the surface of the sand – making me think they might originate from a concealed ferruginous hardpan below.

Then again, I suppose the rust could come from buried decomposing munitions as the beach was used for firing practice in the Second World War!

Reference:

George, Gareth T. (2008) The Geology of South Wales – A Field Guide, G.T.George at gareth@geoserve.co.uk , ISBN 978-0-9559371-0-1, p 70.

Rusty Pebbles at Whiteford (2) - View looking across to Llanmadoc Hill showing pebbles on the beach at Whiteford Sands, Gower, South Wales, some of which are covered with a rusty deposit thought to derive from the break up of an iron-pan associated with a Holocene peat layer.

Rusty Pebbles at Whiteford (3) - Pebbles on the beach at Whiteford Sands, Gower, South Wales, some of which are covered with a rusty deposit thought to derive from the break up of an iron-pan associated with a Holocene peat layer.

Rusty Pebbles at Whiteford (4) - Pebbles on the beach at Whiteford Sands, Gower, South Wales, some of which are covered with a rusty deposit thought to derive from the break up of an iron-pan associated with a Holocene peat layer.

Rusty Pebbles at Whiteford (5) - View looking across towards Whiteford Lighthouse showing pebbles on the beach at Whiteford Sands, Gower, South Wales, some of which are covered with a rusty deposit thought to derive from the break up of an iron-pan associated with a Holocene peat layer. Ancient waterlogged wood from the submerged forest is also visible.

Rusty Pebbles at Whiteford (6) - Ancient iron-stained log embedded in peat from a submerged post-glacial forest - associated with pebbles on the beach at Whiteford Sands, Gower, South Wales, some of which are also covered with a rusty deposit thought to derive from the break-up of an iron-pan associated with the disintegration of the Holocene peat layer.

Rusty Pebbles at Whiteford (7) - Ancient iron-stained log embedded in peat from a submerged post-glacial forest - associated with pebbles on the beach at Whiteford Sands, Gower, South Wales, some of which are also covered with a rusty deposit thought to derive from the break-up of an iron-pan associated with the disintegration of the Holocene peat layer.

Rusty Pebbles at Whiteford (8) - Pebbles scattered on the surface of the sand with 'tears' of rusty water, possibly rising from a buried Holocene iron-pan layer below the sand, weeping across the beach.

Rusty Pebbles at Whiteford (9) - Pebbles scattered on the surface of the sand with 'tears' of rusty water, possibly rising from a buried Holocene iron-pan layer below the sand, weeping across the beach.

COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2013

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Driftwoodgrain Patterns

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (1) - Natural patterns in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon coast beach. The small black dots are lichen.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (12) - Driftwood on an Oregon beach with interesting texture and natural patterns of whorls and grooves. These wonderful textures, swirls, whorls, and grooves – sometimes dotted or patched with black or white – are natural abstract patterns of woodgrain (growth layers) decorated with encrusting lichen – photographed on a single large heavily-weathered and etched driftwood tree trunk washed up on a basalt-covered beach of the Oregon coast.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (2) - Natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (3) - Natural patterns in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach - with encrusting black and white lichen.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (4) - Natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (5) - Natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood, with patches of black and white lichen encrustation, washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (6) - Natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (7) - Wood texture - natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (8) - Wood texture - natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (9) - Wood texture - natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (10) - Wood texture - natural patterns of swirls and grooves in weathered driftwood washed up on an Oregon Coast beach.

Driftwoodgrain Patterns (11) - Large tree trunk driftwood washed up on a basalt covered beach in Oregon.

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Art and Nature – David Nash at Kew

Two Falling Spoons – bronze sculpture by David Nash (2006) in the Temperate House at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

One of the great delights of this year has been my discovery of the exhibition of sculptures by David Nash at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. I have visited three times in the last couple of months. David Nash has carved the works with chain-saw and axe from dead trees in the gardens. The sculptures frequently bear the marks of their making as well as of their intrinsic natural structure. Many pieces are deliberately and spectacularly charred black. Whilst all the works are hewn from wood initially, some pieces have subsequently been cast in bronze or steel – and it is often difficult to tell of which material a sculpture is comprised just by looking.

The works invite the viewers to think about their own and the sculpture’s relationship with nature. The sculptures are enhanced by their setting, whether indoors as in the Temperate House among the palms and ferns, or outside amongst the majestic mature trees. The sculptures distill the essence of their verdant surroundings – almost requesting that we compare and contrast the shapes, textures, patterns of the natural with the man-made structures as well as examine the thoughts and emotions that both invoke in us.

To find out more about the work of David Nash, and the exhibition at Kew Gardens, click on the following links:

Details of David Nash at Kew – A Natural Gallery

Keep up to date with the exhibition

Nash-inspired art courses & talks by the artist

Sign for the David Nash, A Natural Gallery, exhibition in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

Red and Black Dome by David Nash (2006) in the Temperate House at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

Pyramid and Sphere – bronze sculptures by David Nash in the Temperate House at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

Red Throne – a bronze sculpture by David Nash (2012) in the Temperate House at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

Plateau – bronze sculpture by David Nash (2011) in the Temperate House of Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

Red Frame – redwood sculpture by David Nash (2008) in the Temperate House at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

Signs to the David Nash ‘A Natural Gallery’ exhibition at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

Woodgrain with lichen

Woodgrain with lichens: Woodgrain pattern and texture enhanced by the delicate colours of encrusting lichens on a fence post exposed to salty sea breezes at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, U.K. on the Jurassic Coast (1)

Whether it’s on cut timber, wooden posts, fences, or driftwood that has washed ashore, I always look at the patterns, colours and textures in the exposed woodgrain. These natural designs, showing growth rings and other internal tree structures, are often accentuated by etching and weathering of the elements; and enhanced by the colonisation and colouration of different types of  lichens. I particularly like the combination of woodgrain textures with the subtle and delicate grey-green hues of the encrusting lichens on the fence posts illustrated here.

Pattern and texture in woodgrain: Woodgrain pattern and texture enhanced by the delicate colours of encrusting lichens on a fence post exposed to salty sea breezes at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, U.K. on the Jurassic Coast (2)

Botanical abstract pattern: Woodgrain pattern and texture enhanced by the delicate colours of encrusting lichens on a fence post exposed to salty sea breezes at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, U.K. on the Jurassic Coast (3)

Natural abstract patterns: Woodgrain pattern and texture enhanced by the delicate colours of encrusting lichens on a fence post exposed to salty sea breezes at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, U.K. on the Jurassic Coast (4)

Lichens on woodgrain: Woodgrain pattern and texture enhanced by the delicate colours of encrusting lichens on a fence post exposed to salty sea breezes at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, U.K. on the Jurassic Coast (5)

Woodgrain with lichens: Woodgrain pattern and texture enhanced by the delicate colours of encrusting lichens on a fence post exposed to salty sea breezes at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, U.K. on the Jurassic Coast (6)

COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2011

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Woodgrain & knots on wreck timbers

Old timbers provide a fascinating array of  textures, patterns and colours. These photographs show some details of the planking on an old boat wreck on the beach. The grain of the wood has opened up with the weathering process. In the knots, the wood has split into radiating segments like the muscles in the iris of an eye. Most of the paint has been abraded by wind-blown sand but a few layered flakes of pale blue and pink colour remain. The brightest colouring results from the corrosion of large iron rivets or nails. The rust has seeped out into the surrounding timber and stained it bright orange and in some places has given it a varnished texture. 

 

COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2012

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