A GIANT oak tree that blew down at a tourist attraction in Dorset is now being carved into a large animal-themed sculp-ture for visitors.

The huge 200-year-old tree at Abbotsbury Sub-tropical Gardens near Weymouth was felled by gale force winds last year.

Garden bosses decided to make the best of the situation by transforming the tree into a striking feature for guests.

They called in chainsaw artist Matthew Crabb to carve the tree into an intricate wildlife-themed attraction.

Abbotsbury Sub-tropical Gardens curator Steve Griffith said: “This is going to be a real feature for visitors.

“Hopefully it should last for years to come.”

The giant oak was one of the original trees that stood in the nearby woodland valley before Abbotsbury Sub-tropical Gardens was extended.

It was blown down during very high winds in 2009 and site staff were left unable to extract it.

Mr Griffith said: “It seemed a shame to burn it because it’s really lovely oak. So we thought we’d create a feature out of it.

“We looked at the timber and thought about what we could get out of it.

“I particularly wanted some carved seating at one end for visitors.”

Gardens staff brought in Mr Crabb, who runs Exmoor Chainsaw Carving and whose grandmother lives in nearby Portesham.

He has set about carving foxes and hounds into one side of the tree and a riverbed scene into the other.

“It’s a real wildlife theme,” Mr Griffith said. “It’s impressive stuff.

“There’s already something new for people to see in terms of the sculpture.”

To view more of Mr Crabb’s Exmoor Chainsaw Carving handiwork, visit www.exmoorchainsawcarving.co.uk