Plans for the Nave

When the Cathedral of Trees was laid out, the nave was planted with heaths to give the effect of a mosaic floor and heathers. Over the years these became straggly and unsightly and so the decision was taken - in the early 70s? - to grass over the area.

With the creation of the charity (SCIO) in 2016 with the ecological and community dimension to all its aims, it has been decided to go back to the original idea of the mosaic floor and to create this with a mixed planting of ground cover and low level plants. This will be a way of increasing the diversity of the insect life as well as providing colour to the site and additional interest and learning possibilities for all visitors.

With the digger on site, we have been able to bring in top soil, dump it onto the ground area of the nave and rake it smooth in readiness for planting.

Nave with dead trees removed and ground ready for planting

Nave with dead trees removed and ground ready for planting

Some flowers (annuals and Scottish favourites) are now being planted and in the Autumn we hope to begin a programme of more permanent planting which will include replacement yew trees.

Restoration Spring 2019 - Drains again!

With the improvements to the drainage system, the repair and upgrade of the paths and now, the felling of the surrounding conifers which were were overshadowing the site - surely, we were ready to start the replanting of the interior.

Well - not quite. Restoring the Cathedral of Trees is like walking up a mountain. There is always another hill to climb before you get to the summit.

We had noticed over the winter that during periods of very heavy rain, the current ‘restored’ drainage system was not really capable of coping with the level of water flowing off the surrounding hills. The solution was to create French drains within the nave area radiating off the central path and flowing into the side ditches. These in turn were dug out and a layer of hard core stone laid along along the bottoms. Finally the broken drainage pipes running under the transepts were dug out to create open ditches.

Drainage fins being dug in the nave

Drainage fins being dug in the nave

This work will bring several positive outcomes:

It will carry away the standing water which - particularly when it freezes in Winter - has caused damage and die back to the central yews (pillars) in the nave. It creates parallel ditches - the South one operating routinely and the North one coming into action during very wet weather. It provides improved linkage with the river which exits the site and run downs to Pagan Loch.

New Transept ditcches

New Transept ditcches

Winter Update

Not much activity can happen during the winter at the Cathedral of Trees because of the weather conditions, apart that is from maintenance of the drains, especially after heavy rainfall. However, much has been going on all around in the woodland area. The conifers have been felled and light has now flooded into the site opening up the possibility of new growth and regeneration as well as spectacular views of Ben Cruachan and the surrounding hills.

With the drains and paths restored and shady areas brought into sunlight, we can focus this year on the replanting of the site. Replanting of the woodlands with native broad leaves is also due to happen soon - the first step on the recreation of the area as a place of rich biodiversity which can be enjoyed by present and future generations.

Looking down from the newly cleared South side

Hidden Secrets of the Cathedral

Visitors to the Cathedral of Trees have often asked for a translation of the Greek text on the gravestone on the left side of the altar.   Sadly, we haven't been able to provide one. 

However, earlier this summer a kind friend, Colin Heber-Percy, (a very modest ancient Greek scholar!) came to our help.  On a rainy day, he copied down the script, did a bit of research and discovered the origin of the quotation .  It is from a piece by Callimachus (310-240BC) and it is his epigram addressed to his dear friend Heracleitus.  Here is a translation with the words from the gravestone in capitals.

"One told me, Heracleitus, of thy death and brought me to tears.   I remembered how often we two in talking put the sun to rest.  Thou, methinks Halicarnasian friend, art ashes long and long ago;  BUT THY NIGHTINGALES STILL  LIVE whereon Hades, snatcher of all things, shall not lay his hand".  

Thank you, Colin.  




August Update

Timber operations have continued in the Glencruitten Woods but so far have not reached the Cathedral area.  This has meant that visitor access has remained possible over recent weeks so thank you to all those who came to the site and made donations towards the restoration.  Your gifts are very much appreciated.  

Evening in July

Evening in July

Cathedral Closure for Timber Operations

Beginning Monday 4th June, 2018, the Cathedral of Trees will close for timber operations within the surrounding woodland area.  This work  is an important step in the restoration programme and will bring huge benefit to the site by allowing in much needed sunlight and improved air circulation.   It will also provide the opportunity for the recreation of the surrounding space as an amenity woodland of native broadleaves.

We are sorry for this inconvenience to our visitors and hope to give updates on how the work is going and likely reopening date..  

May 2018

April and May have seen a lot of activity in the Cathedral.  This is the first serious phase of the restoration programme and it involved repairing and improving the drainage system and paths.  Over the years, the original drains had collapsed and this in turn caused die back in the trees and a general deterioration in the well being of the site.  The paths were eroded  by water and winter frosts and covered in weeds.

The work involved digging out the old drains and clearing them of silt and debris and scraping away at the surface of the paths.  There were some very large stones to be removed as well!  New drainage ditches have been dug along either side of the central aisle - that's about 90 metres  times 2 - and these have been infilled to form French drains.  Soil and grit has then been placed on the surrounding grass  to raise the level and further improved drainage.  We are now looking for volunteers to rake this down in readiness for replanting.

Grateful thanks go to Ian McCuish Landscaping for doing the work, to HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT SCOTLAND for being our main funder and also to The AVIVA Community Fund and those who voted for us for a grant of £1000.


Paths before restoration

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Paths after restoration

Paths after restoration

Drains, diggers and pathways

It's a pretty exciting time in the Cathedral this week as Ian McCuish and his team of expert landscapers have reinstated the drainage at the Cathedral.  This is a crucial piece of work that will allow the replanting to begin.  The ground has always been boggy but in recent years the drainage was almost completely blocked.

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