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The trees illustrated are from the celebrated triple avenue and other
parts of the estate at Croft Castle. They are well over 350 years old,
attaining heights of 30 m. and 10 m. in girth. The trunks develop cracks
called “shakes” and the bark is boldly marked by a network of ribs
running in a spiral down the trunk. Sadly old age and a virus called
Phytopthera are taking their toll.
Gay has had no artistic
training. At the N.T. property at Croft Castle near Leominster in
Herefordshire, she was impressed by the ancient Spanish chestnut trees.
Fascinated by the legend that they were grown with seeds from the
Spanish Armada she started to draw them using photographs taken in
winter when the trees are bare. This happened ten years ago in her
seventieth year, and it took two years of trial and error to perfect her
technique, using a Pilot drawing pen and water colour paper.