Tag Archives: Woodland Trust

The Gruffalo supports #YorkshireTree

Tea and Trees for the Gruffalo

Yorkshire Tree tea box poem by Julia Donaldson
Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler supporting Yorkshire Tree – will you help the Gruffalo?

In my deep dark wood I love to roam
among the trees around my home.
It’s so refreshing, mind restoring.
There’s much to see – it’s never boring.
Please raise a toast to Yorkshire Tea’s
campaign to plant a million trees!
Let’s drink more tea, then we can grow
a lot more trees for the Gruffalo!
“Who is this Gruffalo?” you say.
I’ll introduce him, if I may.

We first met the Gruffalo when our boys were very young. First, we found him lurking in the library picture book boxes. Then, as we grew to love him, the Gruffalo came to stay on our own bookshelves and was soon joined by an audio recording of the book, read by actress, Imelda Staunton, and then subsequently along came The Gruffalo’s Child too. Our boys loved these picture books. They’re wonderfully written by Julia Donaldson, with the text in rhyming couplets that just begs to be read aloud. Axel Scheffler’s fabulous illustrations truly bring the books to life.

Yorkshire Tea and teapot - Gruffalo supports tree planting campaign
Take a cup of #Yorkshire Tree

Now, the Gruffalo has joined the Woodland Trust and teamed up with Yorkshire Tea to support his beleaguered woodland habitat. Schoolchildren are helping with tree-planting not only here in the UK but also in Kenya, where some of Yorkshire Tea’s tea is grown. One million more trees are to be planted by 2020.

I like a nice cup of Yorkshire Tea myself and I couldn’t resist boxes of teabags incorporating Axel Scheffler’s Gruffalo illustrations. And then I found the Gruffalo was supporting my beloved trees! (I am a bit of a tree-nut, as some of you know 😉 .) If you can, make an excuse to visit woods with children this Spring or Summer – your own, your grandchildren, schoolchildren, any children … and you can find some wonderful activity resources on the Yorkshire Tree website, including how to attract a Gruffalo to your woods.

Bluebell time in the woods
Bluebell time in the woods

I hope you’ll join me in drinking #YorkshireTree tea and help the Gruffalo to “stop the wood from disappearing”!

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

Bluebells are blooming in the woods

Will You Walk this May?

Here in the UK the season of Spring comes into full bloom in the month of May. For me, May is THE month to get out for a healthy and enjoyable walk in the countryside.

We love walking in our local beechwoods in Springtime when the new leaves are just bursting from their tightly rolled buds
We love walking in our local beechwoods in Springtime when the new leaves are just bursting from their tightly rolled buds

I do most of my local walking in woodland where I find there is so much to see in Springtime. In some of my recent posts I’ve been sharing my Spring walks and the delights that are out there waiting for us. If you want to find out more about woodland walks you may find the Woodland Trust’s ‘Visiting Woods’ pages useful.

Living Streets - National Walking Month May 2014
I agree, walking really can make you feel better 🙂

The month of May also happens to be National Walking Month here in the UK. The Living Streets charity is one of several organisations involved in promoting events during this month, including Walk to Work Week (12-16 May) and Walk to School Week (19-23 May). You can find out more from their website http://www.livingstreets.org.uk/national-walking-month?

Why not walk this May? It’s an excellent and FREE way to enjoy the out-of doors and it’s good for the body, mind and soul 🙂

J Peggy Taylor

Our first flowering Bluebells of 2014

Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: SPRING!

Here’s a photo challenge I couldn’t resist! What makes Spring for me?

Well, as my regular readers will know, I have been carefully recording my own experiences of Spring’s progress here in the UK for a couple of months now.

But then this week I saw it! For me, it is the very epitome of an English Spring … this beautiful carpet of wild Bluebells … in a wonderful Welsh woodland 😉
… and Suzy Blue’s fabulous photos really are a treat.

If you’re in the UK this is certainly a great time of year to get out for a woodland walk. And we even have a Bank Holiday weekend just waiting to be enjoyed! If you aren’t sure where to find Bluebell woods near you, you might find some ideas on the Woodland Trust’s ‘Visiting Woods’ Bluebells webpage.

The true wild Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta is a flower of our precious and endangered ancient woodlands. This irreplaceable habitat now covers only 2% of the UK and we are constantly fighting to preserve what is left.

Here in the woods on our northern hills, we’ve seen one or two welcome spots of blue beginning to show here and there.

Recent footpath renovation work has not deterred these Bluebells from bursting through the bare earth.
Recent footpath renovation work has not deterred these Bluebells from bursting through the bare earth.

I’m sure it won’t be long now until our woodlands too will be blossoming in carpets of blue.

J Peggy Taylor

Catching up on Nature’s Calendar

Today I was catching up on my Spring nature records – I had my Elder bud-burst to record from Sunday and then today (as I’d anticipated in my last blog post) at lunchtime I spotted our snowdrops had opened their flowers to this morning’s warm sun. Unfortunately, it started to rain at that point so no photos yet … perhaps tomorrow.

Recording  Snowdrops on Nature's Calendar
Recording my Snowdrops on Nature’s Calendar

Phenology sounds like a phenomenally important kind of science I always think – and it certainly is. But the great thing about phenology is that many of us ‘just do it’ in our own small way without even thinking about it. As we go about our daily lives we notice nature’s own events – we spot snowdrops or bluebells coming into bloom, buds bursting on hedges, trees sprouting new leaves, frogspawn in a garden pond, a butterfly … and so on. We comment too on whether it is earlier or later than we saw them last year.

I tend to record my ‘sightings’ in a small notebook and take photos if possible. I’m usually fine with photos as long as the subject can stand still for long enough! So, flowers and frogspawn, yes; birds or deer, no!

As well as keeping my own notes and photographs I also try to share my nature records. Nature’s Calendar is one of the places where I submit my seasonal sightings. Nature’s Calendar is the Woodland Trust’s web-based phenology project and is also a really good source of information for anyone wanting to learn more about nature and the timing of seasonal events in their local area. This ongoing wildlife survey covers the whole of the UK and it’s easy to use and free to register.

As you would guess, currently Nature’s Calendar is recording Spring sightings as they occur in different parts of the country. Here is a quick peek at the key Spring events Nature’s Calendar would like us to record.

Recording Spring events for Nature's Calendar
Spring events for Nature’s Calendar

Together all of these records help to map changes in natural events over the years so every record submitted really does count. We have taken part in numerous ‘citizen science’ projects as a family and as well as being educational we find they are also lots of fun. … and of course grown-ups too can enjoy recording and learning about nature! So if you’ve never tried your hand at something like this before, why not take a look at Nature’s Calendar … beware though, it can become addictive!!

J Peggy Taylor