A new ‘Tree of Trees’ inspired by A.A. Milne’s Winnie-The-Pooh has been unveiled in Ashdown Forest

It is a majestic, ten-foot high sculpture of a tree made using recycled wood harvested from the forest and featuring over 1,400 leaves contributed by schoolchildren from across the UK.

The project highlights how Ashdown Forest, the real Hundred Acre Wood, inspired A.A. Milne’s stories and the new sequel, Winnie-the-Pooh: Tales from the Forest, by author Jane Riordan and illustrator Mark Burgess. 

The sculpture was unveiled by Jane and East Grinstead school, St Mary’s C of E Primary School, who decorated leaves for the tree today.

Jane said, “With it's forest setting, inspired by the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, it's no great surprise that trees are central to the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. 

"Characters seem to be forever walking under them, climbing them or falling out of them! And so, at a time when so many trees are being lost to deforestation, it feels more important than ever that we celebrate our trees and the incredible wild places like the Ashdown Forest where we can all go and enjoy them.” 

The project will introduce children around the UK to the importance of protecting the ecology and inhabitants of this very special environment. 

The ‘Tree of Trees’ is made from recycled wood from species found in Ashdown Forest, including sweet chestnut, beech, silver birch and oak. 

The branches feature fabric leaves decorated by more than 1,300 children from 25 schools nationwide, from Bolton to Brighton. 

The aim is for schools to explore the ecology of the forest, understand how to protect the environment and discover how writers from A.A. Milne almost 100 years ago, to Jane Riordan today, have inspired people to treasure these environments. 

As part of the project, children have taken inspiration from A.A. Milne and Jane Riordan to create their own imaginary names for some of the species regularly found in the forest, from the Snifflesnaffle (woodmouse) to Diamond Slitherside (adder). 

It is a collaboration between Ashdown Forest, the landscape that inspired Hundred Acre Wood; Farshore, the original publishers of Winnie-the-Pooh; and Ootiboo, who create projects to inspire creativity in schools. 

Ash Walmsley, Countryside Manager at Ashdown Forest, said, “Ashdown Forest is an incredible place and has inspired many generations of storytellers, poets, and artists in its long history. The rare and vulnerable habitats and the wildlife that makes the Forest so special need our protection and it is great that the next generation of young storytellers have already started to become inspired through this project.”

The Tree of Trees sculpture can be found in the garden of the Ashdown Forest visitor centre and will be enjoyed by visitors until it naturally decays over the course of a year or two. The materials are sustainable and locally sourced, with crayons from independent business The Natural Crayon Company used to decorate the leaves. 

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