Along the fringe of western Scotland lie coastal temperate rainforests in isolated pockets. The ancient oak forest of the Taynish Nature Reserve in Argyll is one of these and was originally an industrial landscape created by charcoal burners during the 18th and 19th centuries. Timber was converted into fuel for the iron smelter at Bonawe on the shore of Loch Etive. The remains of the burners’ working platforms remain visible amongst the ferns and the tall oak trees.
But what was once a busy rural workplace, has now become the sanctuary of more than 250 species of bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) and more than 500 species of lichens! The damp, sheltered, coastal conditions sustained by the Atlantic climate of Loch Sween have created the perfect place for them to grow and flourish.
This design is inspired by the numerous Tree Lungwort specimens that thrive on the oak trees at Taynish. Green when wet and greyish-brown when dry, these beautiful lichens are a barometer of the air purity and an indicator of the local temperature range.
I created this design to illustrate three topics:
- the range of shapes of the Tree Lungworts on their oak tree bases;
- the “knaps” or rounded hills of Knapdale that are separated into individual fingers disappearing into Loch Sween; and
- the isolated pockets of rainforest that dot the western coast of Scotland.
There is also an individual Norwegian Specklebelly sewn onto each project bag. I was incredibly lucky to spot one of these rare lichens on a visit to Taynish in June 2021. The base fabric of the Specklebelly is an undyed Burel boiled wool made from the fleeces of native Portuguese sheep; and the French knots are embroidered using a beautiful yarn from Uist Wool.
The base “oak trees” are represented by a Pebble coloured Shetland wool from Jamieson’s of Shetland. The Tree Lungworts are illustrated by a Peruvian Highland yarn (a mixture of Corriedale and merino) in a stunning bespoke colour created by Helen of Ripples Crafts in Assynt called Ancient Woodland. The green lining fabric is from Fabric Focus in Edinburgh, my local fabric shop and haberdashery.
These project bags in Medium and Large sizes will be first available to purchase at CLOTH21 on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th August 2021 at the Dovecot Tapestry Studios, Edinburgh. And then at Perth Festival of Yarn on 11th and 12th September 2021.
Bryophytes of Atlantic Woodlands Guide 1, Plantlife Scotland
Bryophytes of Atlantic Woodlands Guide 2, Plantlife Scotland
Lichens of Atlantic Woodlands Guide 1, Plantlife Scotland
Lichens of Atlantic Woodlands Guide 2, Plantlife Scotland
Taynish Trails, Scottish Natural Heritage
The Forests of Mid Argyll and Kintyre, Forestry Commission Scotland
The Rainforests of Britain and Ireland, Clifton Bain
Welcome to Knapdale, Heart of Argyll Wildlife Organisation