Tag Archives: ancient trees

Autumn in the woods

European Tree of the Year … and the winner is …

Did you vote for your European Tree of the Year 2015? Now the votes are all in and counted and we have a winner … Estonia’s “Football Tree”! Congratulations, Estonia!

Estonia’s oak tree on a football field received nearly 60,000 votes so is clearly very well loved by its community. This oak tree stands right in the middle of a football field and the players play around it! Who says trees can’t be the centre of attention? 🙂

The Major Oak was England’s first entry in this competition and came in sixth in the vote.

You can find out all of this year’s results on the European Tree of the Year website. All of the trees that were finalists in the competition also become part of the ‘European Trail of Trees’. This means people can find out more about each of Europe’s chosen trees.

Whilst winning is always fun, in this competition it was the taking part that was the most important. The number of votes Estonia’s tree received (about a third of the total votes cast) shows the high regard this special tree has in their country. Here in England we don’t do so well at caring for our special trees and we need to try harder. Hopefully, the interest and support enjoyed by all of the entrants in the Tree of the Year competition will help to make more of us love our trees, especially our very special ancient trees.

J Peggy Taylor

Congratulations to the Major Oak

Do you remember voting for your “Tree of the Year” for England? The winner of this competition is the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire.

At present there is no national register of significant trees like the Major Oak. Creating this UK register will show how much we all value these living monuments and will help protect our ancient trees for future generations. Please support the Woodland Trust’s call for a national tree register – you can find the link in their post.

Thank you.

J Peggy Taylor

Autumn in the woods

England’s Tree Of The Year ~ PLEASE VOTE NOW!

Our woods were beautiful at the weekend as we took in the Autumn colours and swished our feet through the deep carpet of leaves along the paths. Trees and woods are such a pleasure at all times of year, but in Autumn they have a special appeal. I’ve shared a couple of images from our walk in this post.

As many of us in the northern hemisphere are enjoying the beauty of our trees and woodlands in their Autumn glory, here in England it’s time to vote for our favourite tree to be crowned England’s Tree Of The Year.

An Autumn walk along the old road
An Autumn walk along the old road is always a treat to the senses

After receiving over 200 nominations from tree-lovers around the country for some of the most amazing trees in England, the Woodland Trust has drawn up its shortlist of 10 special trees. Now we can vote for our own personal favourite from the shortlist. The chosen tree will represent England in the 2015 European Tree of the Year contest.  Why for England only and not the UK? Don’t worry, Scotland, Ireland and Wales are not missing out here, as each country chooses its own tree.

What is the European Tree of the Year contest all about?

“We are not searching for the oldest, the tallest, the biggest, the most beautiful or the rarest of trees. We are searching for the most lovable tree, a tree with a story that can bring the community together.”

European Tree of the Year

There are some wonderful and historic contenders on the shortlist for England’s Tree Of The Year – what they do have in common is that all of them are well-loved:

  1. The Big Bellied Oak in Savernake Forest, one of Wiltshire’s ancient ‘Royal Forests’ dating back to Norman times. With a girth of 10.8 metres, this ancient oak lives up to its name.
  2. The Allerton Oak in Calderstones Park, Liverpool, another contender dating back to medieval times when it is believed to have been used as a court of law.
  3. The Whiteleaved Oak in the Malvern Hills, Herefordshire , thought to be 400-500 years old. This tree is considered significant by the Druids.
  4.  Kett’s Oak in Hethersett, Norfolk, named after Robert Kett, the leader of the Norfolk Rebellion in 1549 who mustered his men under the oak before marching on Norwich.
  5. Newton’s Apple Tree at Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire. This is the tree under which Isaac Newton was sitting when the apple fell on his head and from this experience he subsequently developed his theory on gravity.
  6. The Ankerwycke Yew at Runnymede on the River Thames in Surrey is possibly the oldest contender in the list, believed to be over 1400 years old. This tree would have seen King John signing the Magna Carta.
  7.  The Shugborough Yew in Staffordshire is a relative youngster at around 350 years old. But its claim to fame is that it is the tree with the widest span in the UK, with an amazing circumference of 200 yards.
  8.  The Ickwell Oak in Bedfordshire is believed to be 350 years old and is highly regarded by its local community.
  9.  Old Knobbley is an ancient oak in the Essex  village of Mistley and is thought to be at least 800 years old. This tree has inspired a picture book, telling its story.
  10.  The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire is the tree associated with the legend of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. This tree is thought to be 800-1000 years old.

You can see the images of all of these fabulous trees on the Woodland Trust’s website here, where you can also vote for your favourite from the shortlist. Voting closes on 4th November so do take a look and choose your nomination for England’s Tree Of The Year.

Autumn in the woods
An Autumn experience – the beauty of woodland colour and our feet swishing through Autumn leaves

Our ancient trees and woodlands are very precious and I am always keen to support or celebrate these living monuments. Now all I need to do, is to make my mind up which one to choose as Tree Of The Year …

J Peggy Taylor

Hugging Trees for Science … and Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge!

Ahh trees! I am a big fan of trees. All trees. But especially ancient trees. I often think, “If only ancient trees could talk what fabulous tales they’d tell!”

But when I say “ancient” what do I mean? Trees, like us, grow and age at different rates depending on a variety of factors that affect them. A few years ago we took part in the Woodland Trust’s Ancient Tree Hunt here in the UK. This project is trying to measure and map as many ancient trees as possible all over the UK. To take part we learned how to ‘hug’ our old trees to measure their likely age 🙂

We found a few very old Oak and Beech trees around our area, about 300-400 years old. As well as hugging each tree, which was fun (!) we recorded as much information about it as we could including its location, its condition – for example whether it had any broken limbs or hollows in the trunk.

We also looked to see if we could see any creatures or plants living on the trees. Ancient trees are amazingly rich habitats and as trees age the organisms that they support continues to grow – they have their own little ecosystem as well as being significant in the wider habitat.

The fattest old Oak we found was over 4.5 metres around its girth – which was a bit longer than our collective ‘hug’ at that time! But we did check our measurements with a tape measure as well as using the ‘hug’ method. The size of this tree means it is about 400 years old – this was an amazing thought and we talked about the history it had lived through.

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week I wanted to show you tree-hugging but sadly I seem to have misplaced those images so I thought I’d share some photos of some of the wonderful old trees we’ve visited recently instead …

A beech tree we hugged, in our local woods
A beech tree near where our Bluebells grow. We hugged this tree as part of our Ancient Tree Hunt recording 🙂
Broad Oak - a wonderful oak we encountered on a Summer hike
Broad Oak – a wonderful oak we encountered on a Summer hike
Old oak in an ancient woodland that is under restoration - with stray sheep!
Old oak in an ancient woodland near us that is under restoration – with stray sheep! We often walk this way … though we don’t often see stray sheep!
A wonderful beech tree we pass on our journey into town - we stopped off at this country park while we were out this week
A wonderful beech tree we pass on our journey into town – we stopped off at this country park while we were out this week

J Peggy Taylor

Saturday Nature Round-up

sprouting acorn in fallen oak leaves
I have taken the theme of “nature” as the thread that binds this post together, but there are several strands.

Today is Day 1 of the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch weekend. I posted earlier in the week about this – and there’s still time for you to take part in the biggest wildlife survey in the world if you can find an hour to spare on Sunday.

This morning we counted ‘our’ birds … 10 jackdaws. To us they really are ‘our birds’ as they were born and raised in the old chimneys of our house.

It’s a pity ‘our’ starlings didn’t put in an appearance today, as seemingly unbelievably, starlings are becoming less common than you might think. Perhaps because it was not too cold, they were evidently visiting further flung pastures today. The starlings live in our flat-roof, above our youngest son’s bedroom. They nest there and hide out there too when it’s really cold. I did hear one of them talking on the chimney earlier in the week.

As this afternoon turned wet and squally, it seemed a good time to browse other blogs to see how nature was faring elsewhere. As a self-confessed nature nut, I must say how heartened I was to see just how many other fellow bloggers care about our natural world.

It was wonderful to see Suzy Blue’s flowering snowdrops on her Country Diary blog. Seeing snowdrops always makes me feel Spring is not too far around the corner. We have some snowdrops that grow right outside of our front door – but no sign of flowers for us just yet on our windswept northern hillside.

We live surrounded by wonderful woods. I love trees – from tiny sprouting acorns to gnarled and ancient beauties. I was fascinated today when I learned about an amazing old Irish hedgerow in a post called “Bright Skies and Dark Hedges” on Littlest Allsorts.

I am always intrigued by the ways we as humans have shaped our ‘natural’ landscapes. This avenue of veritable ‘old ladies’ can be seen along a roadside near Ballymoney, Co. Antrim. If you take a peek at it you will not be surprised to hear it is not unaccustomed to photographic attention having been chosen as a film location on several occasions, including for the popular ‘Game of Thrones’.

To weave the final strand into this Nature Round-up, I want to share with you a poem I discovered today, “A Natural Curriculum” on the blog ‘wordsthatserve’. It describes to us an “alternative 3 ‘R’s”.

I really liked this poem, especially as its first verse touched on one of my own ‘pet’ subjects, litter. For me those three concepts, Respect, Resilience and Reciprocity, as represented in this poem, should act as way-markers for human-kind as we negotiate our place on this planet.

J Peggy Taylor